Return To House On Haunted Hill

OCTOBER 15, 2007


I don’t recall too much about the first House On Haunted Hill, only that other than Geoffery Rush channeling James Woods, and Famke Jannsen looking incredibly hot, it wasn’t all that great. I don’t think I need to say again that haunted house movies are never a favorite with me, and they are even WORSE when they rely on CG and other truly non-terrifying things to “scare” me. Also, come on, Chris Kattan?

But the sequel, Return To House On Haunted Hill, kind of intrigued me, due to the ‘revolutionary’ navigational cinema option on the HD and BluRay discs. Instead of just watching the movie, you could make choices that ultimately give you 96 versions of the film.

Now, I am not sure where Warner gets off saying they invented this, because they had a choose your own adventure movie in the mid 90s with Christopher Lloyd (it’s called Mr Payback), and New Line did something similar with the Final Destination 3 DVD just last year. But whatever. At Screamfest, they were going to show off the technology with the film’s cameo, er, co-star Jeffrey Combs making all the decisions. Sounds fun, right?

Well it’s not. Most of the choices are pretty lame (“Should they answer the phone?” comes up TWICE!), and they are also a lot more infrequent than one would expect considering the alleged 96 different ways the film can be seen. There also seems to be many occasions where making a choice would seem natural, and yet no choice is given. And of course, when the movie isn't that great, you will have to endure your own brain and everyone you are watching it with making some variation of a "I choose for the film to end now" joke.

Also, I should point out that when I got the HD DVD, I considered reviewing all 96 versions, one per day, for HMAD. But then I realized that it would annoy you guys so much that your children would be born hating me. Plus, just two versions of the film (in addition to a tour through the “Navigational Cinema” version, I also watched the “real” version) seems like more than enough to sit through.

The problem with the film is that it barely makes any goddamn sense, and the numerous attempts to be funny (mostly from the awful Jeremy Sisto-y Erik Palladino, co-star of another unfunny horror movie, Dead & Breakfast) fall flat (except for when Palladino LITERALLY falls flat after slipping Jimmy the paramedic style in someone’s blood – a gag he also did in D&B now that I think about it). I guess when you have to consider telling your story 96 ways, narrative cohesion kind of gets lost in the shuffle. There’s some good gore gags here and there, and the ghost makeups continue to impress, but it’s just an empty experience, seeming much longer than it is (the “real” version clocks in at around 80 minutes). Victor Garcia may be a skilled shooter (the film certainly LOOKS good for the most part), but when the script is so banal, it’s kind of hard to judge him as a filmmaker.

There’s also a confusing casting decision, as two characters look very similar (and are paired up with other characters who also look a bit like each other), so when one dies, I and some other folks I watched it with got a bit confused as to why he was “back” when the other one was onscreen.

However the main girl, Amanda Righetti, is so ridiculously hot I will probably watch all versions eventually, because she seems to keep finding ways to get herself soaking wet, which is a plus. So if I ever find a way to watch the film that actually makes it good, I will report back. All I know for sure is, if you want to cut your experience short, have her save the map instead of her friend.

What say you?


  1. Just caught the new movie this evening. I thought the first movie was better...even scarier. I'm not liking the new trend in horror movies.
    (More Violence/Gore = Good Horror)

    I don't think so...the first movie played on the atmosphere and emotiosn more than the second. Return relied too much on shock factor and CGI. Oh well. Love the blog btw.

  2. Yeah I want to check out the original again... been too long and the theater i saw it in sucked.

    Thanks for reading, fellow Fletch fan!!

  3. A lot of people hated the first one, but I dug it for the campy trip it was. The way I looked at it, the movie itself was like one of the "spookhouse" rides Rush's character was supposed to be famous for--loud noises, darkness, flashes of light revealing disturbing tableaux, and in the end just a fun ride. And some of the scenes--the Jeffrey Combs "cameo" spots in particular--I found genuinely chilling.

    And no offense to the original, which I love, but it was more of a carnival ride than a cinematic masterpiece itself.

    I also enjoyed the Lisa Loeb turn near the beginning. She's just an out-and-out cutie, that one. :)

  4. Mmm... loeb.

    The original I like just because Price is so goddamn good in it. Probably my favorite of his performances.

  5. Loeb was in another horror movie called Serial Killing 101 (aka Serial Killing for Dummys [sic]), which I almost bought for $1 on VHS but passed up for something that looked, you know, good.

    Still, I kind of regret not throwing down the greenback just on the strength of her black-rimmed glasses alone.

    Maybe you could review that one? :)

  6. Oh good. I won't bother with this one. Was about to. Thanks, BC!

  7. check out Amanda Righetti's web site

  8. Will do! Now just tell her to check out my site, and the world will be a better place...

  9. Damn. I was hoping this might be watchable but now I'm torn. After checking out pics of Amanda (who looks hot as hell and strikingly like Famke in that white tank top!) I can't decide whether to waste my time with it or not.

    Oh who am I fooling...that chick is hot.

  10. Yes! I had the exact same problem with the actors all looking the same.

  11. I enjoyed the movie but mostly because of amanda going to admit i watched THE OC and was floored the second she popped onto the show wearing pretty much nothing...was hooked after that....this movie had some cool death scenes but felt like IT TOOK FOREVER...i have a PS3 and rented the Blu Ray version but there was no way in hell i was going to do the never ending movie sequences....The back stabbing whore broad was from cabin fever..i prefer her in that because well she got naked...i was hoping amanda would do the same..but no such luck....I love the old House on Haunted Hill with Ali Larter (never saw the original..need 2) because of all the fun that was in the theater when i saw it. This one just didnt keep me interested besides amanda in the rain...amanda in the pool of water...amanda fighting in a shower...i say take out all of the other people and just have her in there fighting thats a 5 skull movie (BD rating :) )


Movie & TV Show Preview Widget