The iconic Vincent Price invites a group of guests to stay for a night in this apparently haunted house in this classic tale of terror.
Millionaire Frederick Loren has come up with an idea to help some local folks earn some much-needed money. He invites them over to a house he rents for the night located on top of a hill. If they agree to spend the entire night with both he and his wife, each person will receive $10,000. The guest list includes Lance Schroeder, a test pilot; Ruth Bridgers, a newspaper columnist; David Trent, a psychiatrist specializing in hysteria; Nora Manning, who works for one of Loren’s companies; and house owner Watson Prichard.
While the guests are both scared yet excited to give the challenge a shot, one person not happy with the arrangements is Frederick’s 4th wife, Annabelle. Frederick is convinced Annabelle is trying to have him killed so she can get her hands on the Loren fortune. However, Frederick always seems to be one step ahead of her. Watson is convinced that the house is haunted, and death is coming for all of them. When Annabelle is seen hung from a staircase and Nora begins to see things she never saw before, the guests are convinced the house is haunted. However, something even more sinister is upon the horizon.
This classic ghost tale is quite interesting in its storytelling as it involves one simple word: tension. There are lots of tense scenes between the ensemble cast and it makes it more thrilling to see as there are many secrets to unfold in this film. And who better to lead the cast than the iconic Vincent Price as millionaire Frederick Loren?
From the looks of it, Price’s Loren may be somewhat crazy in how he came up with a plan to spend the night in a supposed haunted house. However, he seems to have good intentions as he knows the people he has chosen are in somewhat dire straits and need financial compensation to help them become better people. That seems to the case more with Carolyn Craig’s Nora, who is the true “scream queen” of the film as she practically screams throughout the film when she sees certain things happen in front of her.
Carol Ohmart does a great job as Annabelle, who clearly acts submissive to Loren, but it looks to be just that at times. Her attempts to stand up to her husband prove futile. It is because Frederick knows that she wants to have him killed at some point to get her hands on the inheritance. Richard Long’s Lance is the most level-headed member of the group and there is a romantic tension between he and Nora that sadly, doesn’t get a chance to suffice. Julie Mitchum’s Ruth is practically a throwaway character and she doesn’t really bring anything to the table. As for Elisha Cook’s Watson, he may as well be a “scream queen” himself because of his consistent expression with the notion there are ghosts in the house.
The original House on Haunted Hill is quite fun because of Vincent Price, who makes this a night to remember. Carolyn Craig is on OG scream queen level here with Elisha Cook is somewhat of a comic relief in Watson. The final moments are pretty wild and definitely make the film even more worth seeing.
WFG RATING: B+
An Allied Artists production. Director: William Castle. Producer: William Castle. Writers: William Castle and Robb White. Cinematography: Carl E. Guthrie. Editing: Roy Livingston.
Cast: Vincent Price, Caraol Ohmart, Richard Long, Alan Marshal, Carolyn Craig, Elisha Cook, Julie Mitchum, Leona Anderson, Howard Hoffman, Skeleton.