Combustible Celluloid
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With: Vincent Price, Carolyn Craig, Richard Long, Elisha Cook Jr., Carol Ohmart, Alan Marshal, Julie Mitchum, Leona Anderson, Howard Hoffman
Written by: Robb White
Directed by: William Castle
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 75
Date: 02/17/1959

House on Haunted Hill (1959)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Skeleton Crew

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

William Castle was better known for his gimmicks than for his films, but this haunted house chiller is actually very good, with a few genuinely spooky scenes. A man (Vincent Price) invites five guests to a haunted house, where they will earn $10,000 if they can last the night. Castle opts for a clean, evenly-lit look, but uses shadows and off-camera noises to brilliant effect (not to mention the vat of acid in the basement!). The gimmick here was called "Emergo." During the appropriate moment, a skeleton would emerge from below the screen and "fly" out into the audience. The film works fine without it. The great Elisha Cook Jr. co-stars.

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