Horror On The Lens: The House On Haunted Hill (dir by William Castle)


The original The House on Haunted Hill is a classic and one that we make it a point to share every Halloween.  And since October is halfway over, now seems like the perfect time to do so!

Be sure to check out Gary’s review by clicking here!

Enjoy Vincent Price at his best!

Horror On The Lens: The House On Haunted Hill (dir by William Castle)


The original The House on Haunted Hill is a classic and one that we make it a point to share every Halloween.  And since October is nearly halfway over, now seems like the perfect time to do so!

Be sure to check out Gary’s review by clicking here!

Enjoy Vincent Price at his best!

30 Days of Noir #13: Undertow (dir by William Castle)


In the 1949 film, Undertow, Scott Brady plays Tony Reagan.  Tony used to be a member of the Chicago mob but that’s all in the past now.  He served his country in World War II and now, as he tells his old racket friend, Danny (John Russell), all Tony wants to do is settle down and run a hunting lodge in Reno.

However, before Tony can forever abandon Chicago for Nevada, he has to make peace with his future in-laws.  He’s engaged to marry Sally Lee (Dorothy Hart).  In fact, he’s so in love with her that not even meeting a single teacher named Ann McKnight (Peggy Dow) can distract Tony from his plans.  The only problem is that Sally is the niece of a Chicago gangster named Big Jim Lee and, in the past, Big Jim and Tony haven’t always been the best of friends.  In fact, the Chicago police are constantly harassing Tony because they’re convinced that he wants to start a gang war with Big Jim.  Instead, Tony just wants to make peace with Big Jim before the wedding.

Tony goes to visit Big Jim and …. well, you can guess what’s going to happen, can’t you?  If you’ve seen enough film noirs, you know that no one is every totally out of the rackets.  No one believes an ex-mobster when they say that they’re no longer interested in making trouble.  Even worse, any murder committed with automatically be blamed on anyone who says that they’re no longer a member of the rackets.  That’s what happens to Tony.  Not only does he discover that Big Jim has been shot dead but everyone thinks that he’s the one who did it.  Fleeing through the shadowy streets of Chicago, Tony finds himself not only being pursued by the police but also by the murderers.  Everyone wants to either capture or kill Tony.

In fact, the only person who seems to be on Tony’s side is Ann McKnight.  Ann lets Tony hide out at her apartment while he tries to figure out what’s going on.  Of course, Ann does have a nosy landlady who has no hesitation about letting herself into the apartment whenever she feels like it….

The plot of Undertow isn’t going to win any points for originality.  It’s not going to take you long to figure out who is setting Tony up, if just because there really aren’t enough characters in the film for there to be much suspense about who is betraying who.  But no matter!  The film is still an atmospherically shot and briskly-paced thriller.  Undertow was directed by William Castle, who is probably best known for directing campy B-movies like The Tingler and Strait-Jacket.  There’s nothing campy about Castle’s direction of Undertow.  The majority of the film was shot on location and Castle makes great use of Chicago.  When Tony tries to lose the cops that are tailing him, it helps that he’s not running across a soundstage but instead down real city streets, ones that feels alive with tension and danger.  There’s also a great chase that takes place in a long and dark corridor in an underground garage.

Scott Brady (who was the brother of tough-guy actor Lawrence Tierney) gives a sympathetic performance as Tony and he and Peggy Dow have a really likable chemistry in their scenes together.  Dorothy Hart is also well-cast as the film’s femme fatale, while Bruce Bennett has a few good scenes as a detective who is an old friend of Tony’s.  Fans of “classic” matinée idols will want to keep an eye out for Rock Hudson, making a brief appearance in his second film and credited as “Roc” Hudson.

Horror on the Lens: The House on Haunted Hill (dir by William Castle)


The original The House on Haunted Hill is a classic and one that we make it a point to share every Halloween.  And since Erin shared the film’s poster earlier today, now seems like the perfect time to do so!

Be sure to check out Gary’s review by clicking here!

Enjoy Vincent Price at his best!

Horror on the Lens: The House on Haunted Hill (dir by William Castle)


The original  The House on Haunted Hill is a classic and one that we make it a point to share every Halloween.

Be sure to check out Gary’s review by clicking here!

Enjoy Vincent Price at his best!

Halloween Havoc!: Joan Crawford in STRAIT-JACKET! (Columbia 1964)


cracked rear viewer

It’s time once again to revisit Joan Crawford’s later-day career as a horror star, and this one’s a pretty good shocker. STRAIT-JACKET! was Joan’s follow-up to WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE, the first in the “Older Women Do Horror” genre (better known by the detestable moniker “Psycho-Biddy Movies”). Here she teams for the first time with veteran producer/director William Castle , starring as an axe murderess released after twenty years in an insane asylum, becoming the prime suspect when people begin to get hacked to bits again.

The film itself begins with a 1940’s prolog depicting the gruesome events that occurred when Lucy Harbin (Joan) catches her husband (Lee Majors in his uncredited film debut) in bed with another woman. Joan, all dolled up to resemble her MILDRED PIERCE-era self, grabs the nearest axe and CHOP! CHOP! CHOP! goes hubby and his squeeze into itsy-bitsy pieces. The act is witnessed…

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Halloween TV Havoc!: GHOST STORY “Elegy for a Vampire” (1972)


cracked rear viewer

ghst1

NBC-TV tried to bring a horror anthology series back to prime time during the 1972-73 season with GHOST STORY, executive produced by the one-and-only William Castle . Sebastian Cabot played Winston Essex, introducing the tales from haunted Mansfield House hotel. GHOST STORY had great writers, including Richard Matheson (who helped develop the concept), Robert Bloch, Harlan Ellison, Henry Slesar, and Hammer vet Jimmy Sangster, some good directors (Richard Doner, John Llewelyn Moxey, Robert Day), and a plethora of Hollywood talent: Karen Black, Kim Darby, Angie Dickinson, Melvyn Douglas, Patty Duke, Jodie Foster, Helen Hayes, Tab Hunter, John Ireland, Janet Leigh, Patricia Neal, Jason Robards, Gena Rowlands, Martin Sheen, and William Windom.

Despite all this, the show got clobbered in the ratings by the CBS FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE and ABC’s comedy duo of ROOM 222 and THE ODD COUPLE. A mid-season title change to CIRCLE OF FEAR (dropping the Cabot segments in the process) didn’t help, and…

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Horror on the Lens: 13 Ghosts (dir by William Castle)


Since I reviewed the remake yesterday, today’s Horror on the Lens is the 1960 original, William Castle’s 13 Ghosts!

Now, William Castle was famous for his gimmicks.  For instance, theaters showing The Tingler were wired to give electrical shocks to random patrons.  He had a special gimmick for 13 Ghosts, a film about a house haunted by ghosts that you can only see while wearing special goggles.  Since I’m a lazy film blogger, I’m going to quote the film’s Wikipedia article on this particular gimmick:

“For 13 Ghosts, audience members were given a choice: the “brave” ones could watch the movie and see the ghosts, while the apprehensive among them would be able to opt out of the horror and watch without the stress of having to see the ghosts. The choice came via the special viewer, supposedly “left by Dr. Zorba.”

In the theatres, most scenes were black and white, but scenes involving ghosts were shown in a “process” dubbed Illusion-O: the filmed elements of the actors and the sets — everything except the ghosts — had a blue filter applied to the footage, while the ghost elements had a red filter and were superimposed over the frame. Audiences received viewers with red and blue cellophane filters. Unlike early 3D glasses where one eye is red and the other is cyan or blue, the Illusion-O viewer required people to look through a single color with both eyes. Choosing to look through the red filter intensified the images of the ghosts, while the blue filter “removed” them. Despite Castle’s claims to the contrary, not many heart failures or nervous breakdowns were averted by the Illusion-O process; although the blue filter did screen out the ghostly images, the ghosts were visible with the naked eye, without the red filter.”

Personally, if I had been alive in 1960, I totally would have watched the whole movie through the red filter.  Go ghosts go!

Anyway, 13 Ghosts is actually a lot of fun in a low-budget, 1960s drive-in sort of way.  Watch it below and, as always, enjoy!

 

Horror On The Lens: House On Haunted Hill (dir by William Castle)


I was actually planning on waiting until closer to Halloween before I posted this film but … well, why save the best for last?  Seriously, it’s always a good time watch the original House on Haunted Hill.  Be sure to check out Gary’s review by clicking here!

Now, I will admit that I previously shared this film two Halloweens ago.  However, the YouTube video that I embedded in that post no longer exists.  So, I figured, why not post it again?

Below is what I wrote the previous time that I shared this movie:

“Released in 1959, House On Haunted Hill tells the story of how an eccentric millionaire (played by Vincent Price, of course) rented out a “haunted” mansion for a party. invited over five guests, and offered each of them $10,000 on the condition that they manage to spend the entire night in the house.  Along for the ride is Price’s unhappy wife (Carol Ohmart) and the house’s wonderfully neurotic caretaker (played by Elisha Cook, Jr, who played a lot of neurotic caretakers over the course of his long career).

House on Haunted Hill remains one of the classic B-movies.  This is largely because of Price’s wonderfully over-the-top lead performance and William Castle’s equally over-the-top direction.

Back in 1959, theaters were equipped so that a plastic skeleton would appear to fly over the heads of the audience during some of the film’s more shocking moments.  So, grab yourself a skeleton, take a seat, and enjoy House on Haunted Hill!”

 

Horror On The Lens: House on Haunted Hill (dir by William Castle)


House on Haunted Hill

With only two days left to go until we reach Halloween, now seems like the perfect time to watch a classic Vincent Price haunted house film.  I’m talking, of course, about the original House On Haunted Hill.

Released in 1959, House On Haunted Hill tells the story of how an eccentric millionaire (played by Vincent Price, of course) rented out a “haunted” mansion for a party. invited over five guests, and offered each of them $10,000 on the condition that they manage to spend the entire night in the house.  Along for the ride is Price’s unhappy wife (Carol Ohmart) and the house’s wonderfully neurotic caretaker (played by Elisha Cook, Jr, who played a lot of neurotic caretakers over the course of his long career).

House on Haunted Hill remains one of the classic B-movies.  This is largely because of Price’s wonderfully over-the-top lead performance and William Castle’s equally over-the-top direction.

Back in 1959, theaters were equipped so that a plastic skeleton would appear to fly over the heads of the audience during some of the film’s more shocking moments.  So, grab yourself a skeleton, take a seat, and enjoy House on Haunted Hill!