House on Haunted Hill 1959 vs House on Haunted Hill 1999 [spoilers]


Cast: Vincent Price, Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, old crone, floating skeleton

Plot of the 1959 original: A wealthy guy with an unspecified job invites five people to stay the night with him in a haunted house on a hill. If they survive the night, they’ll each get ten thousand dollars, which was quite a lot of money in 1959. If they don’t survive the night then Vincent Price will surely go to prison for accessorising murder. Actually, I wasn’t clear on that part.

Plot of the 1999 remake: A wealthy guy who ironically owns amusement parks invites five people to stay the night in an over-stylised house that is haunted by CGI. If they survive the night, they’ll each get $1,000,000, which is enough, I guess. If they don’t survive the night then Geoffrey Rush will surely go to prison for copying the plot of the original.

Subplot of both films: Vincent Price and his wife hate each other and it’s implied that he has killed three previous wives. Geoffrey Rush seems a bit nicer, though he does try to strangle Famke Janssen at one point.

Other subplots: An old, blind housekeeper feels bored of life and decides to stop brushing her hair, hang around the basement walking slowly in and out of shadow and skateboard past the second lead actress without saying a word.

A woman who writes a newspaper column has a vision of the future where she is in a remake of this film and wanders off alone into the basement and gets slaughtered. When she snaps out of her trance, she grabs a gun and clings to the other characters like a manacle.

A hot-headed pilot meets a girl he can boss around and so looks for opportunities to impress her and keep her away from the other men in the film. At one point, he locks her in her room, promising he’ll come back later and check on her. In a different film, this could’ve been very creepy.

A nervous man drinks a hell of a lot but only seems to get more nervous, which is surely the opposite of what should happen.

A new media woman mistakes herself for the lead female character and goes exploring in the basement alone.

A token black guy looks around, sees blindingly white faces looking back at him and prepares for death. An hour later, after no one else steps up and Geoffrey Rush seems to be insane, he realises that not only might he get through this thing, he might also get to have sex on a cliff ledge with the blonde woman. Continue reading

Masque of the Red Death [1964] – [thoughts + spoilers]


Film: Masque of the Red Death [1964]

Setting: Fake Medieval castle

Cast: Vincent Price, Hazel Court, Jane Asher

Director: Roger Corman

Plot: Prince Prospero is on his way back home to his impressive castle when some peasants make loud noises. Irritated, he gets out of his carriage and threatens to kill two men who complain about having no food. Jane Asher begs him for mercy as the two men are her father and love interest. Prospero says mercy is for weaklings, and compares the two men to pet dogs biting the hand of their master, even though biting isn’t really the same as mentioning that people are starving to death.

Luckily, an old woman has red paint on her face nearby, which spooks the Prince enough for him to grab Jane Asher and hole up in his castle with other nobles so they can escape the red death. He also takes the two men as prisoners so they can provide entertainment for him and his guests.

In the castle is something rare, a strong female character, and she’s not happy about Prospero giving her room to a peasant girl. The rest of the film deals with Prospero worshiping Satan and trying to convince Jane Asher that Satan is great, mostly by doing reprehensible things and completely failing to justify them.

Subplot: Another noble called Alfredo hits a dwarf and then gets wine thrown in his face. He then goes into lurk mode and flits about like a bored teenager who’s too bored to even try and sneak into Jane Asher’s room at night and sexually assault her, which is what I thought he would do.

Dwarf subplot: A dwarf watches his female friend, also a dwarf, get hit by Alfredo and plots revenge. His plot: convince Alfredo to dress up as a gorilla for the ball, whip him a bit, tie him to a chandelier then burn him alive. Thanks to Alfredo’s lobotomy before the film, it works.

Hazel Court subplot: Julianna, Prospero’s girlfriend, wants to marry Satan and either be Prospero’s lover forever or supplant him as Satan’s favourite. The idea that Prospero might just be mad seems to escape her.

Another Poe story?

Yes. And there’s still six more to come.

I watched this one after watching The Raven, and honestly, I would’ve watched it even if it wasn’t related to that one as the plot synopsis is so unique.

A Medieval Italian prince worshipping Satan in his castle while the nearby villagers die from the Red Death.

How many modern films even attempt this kind of thing?

Not many.

The plot doesn’t even matter really. The only forward momentum comes from the two men who are captured and have to find a way to escape while also rescuing Jane Asher before she gets brainwashed by Prince Prospero. The bulk of the film consists of Prospero [Vincent Price, in case that wasn’t clear] wandering around his castle, humiliating people, training Julianna in the ways of Satanism and trying to wrap his cultish fingers around the brain of innocent, god-fearing villager, Jane Asher. Continue reading