I like watching classic horror films. Many of them are campy, but still thrilling in a different way modern horror films are. The films usually prey not only to the characters’ flaws and insecurities, but also on the audiences’ as well. I also find the best and most over the top acting comes from classic horror films. Who can forget Colin Clive’s hammy performance as Dr. Henry Frankenstein? Or Bela Lugosi’s lack of ability to pronounce words clearly? Acting like that just isn’t found in modern thrasher flicks which I find sad. We just don’t have actors like we did in the good old days. Nobody can be put in Bela Lugosi’s cape or Vincent Price’s shoes.
Vincent Price is one of the best scene chewers I have seen ever. His voice is iconic that any self-respecting impressionist has to have an impression of him. He can enter a scene and everything goes quite until he is done speaking. His ability to command the viewer’s attention, the director’s attention and the fellow actors’ attention seems effortless.
In House on Haunted Hill, Price plays a millionaire who invites several guests to a haunted house. He says that he will give each one ten thousand dollars if they can spend the night there. Suspecting that this is a trap, several of the guests investigate the strange goings on in the house. Meanwhile the millionaire’s wife schemes to kill her husband in a way where she would never be suspected.
I like classic horror, because it doesn’t necessarily scare the way more modern horror films do. However there is one moment in the film when the young woman guest goes into a dark room and something jumps out at her. It is the scariest moment in the film because I wasn’t expecting it. Other moments that are similar don’t work as well, including the floating skeleton that the wife thinks is her husband. It looks like they stole a skeleton from a science lab and put strings on it.
Vincent Price ends up out smarting his clever wife and giving her the old heave-ho in the most nonchalant way in cinema history. I love the scene when the millionaire and his wife are in his bedroom. Vincent Price is so mean to her and yet still oddly charming. You can see why she wants to kill him. I also love how he brings up that she had poisoned him in the past. The conversation was just as emotionless as a recounting of a day to another person and yet what he is saying is so outrageous. That is why I love Vincent Price. He can say the most outlandish dialogue and it comes off as everyday language. He is awesome. I would recommend this film in order to watch Vincent Price prance around, for the cheesy special effects (man I wish I could have seen this film on its original theatrical release. They put a fake skeleton in the theater to be swung out during the skeleton scene in the film. How awesome is that?), and the screams that the young woman pulls off every two seconds. You just want to hand her a couple of tea and lozenge at the end of some of them. Priceless. (Haha. I am so clever.)