Black and White Horror Classic: House on Haunted Hill (1959)

House on Haunted Hill

La mansion de los horrores 1959 Black and White Horror Classic House on Haunted Hill 1959

La mansion de los horrores – House on Haunted Hill (1959) – click for full size

Strange how it can take decades to discover things you would ordinarily consider central to your tastes and passions. I adore black and white horror flicks.  Fond memories of being in my early teens, late at night, watching Boris Karloff and Béla Lugosi as Frankenstein’s Monster / Ardath Bey and Dracula / Bela the gypsy.  Around the same time that I got into the cosmic horror and weird psychological twists of H.P.Lovecraft – and the Cthulhu Mythos.

So I’ve only just discovered House on Haunted Hill. I watched it last night via YouTube, camped out in our master bedroom – girlfriend away the night – with a laptop and headphones.  And I bloody loved it.  There’s flavours of the comical CLUE and the over-stylised Thir13en Ghosts (the William Castle remake).

Black and White Horror Classic House on Haunted Hill 1959 Vincent Price narrates the start of the story

Vincent Price narrates the start of the story

The sinister aspect of Frederick Loren (Vincent Price), with his sardonic smiles and aggressive jealousy plays brilliantly into the plot’s final twist.  The femme fatale is cunning as the damsel in distress. And the real malefactor bubbles up like a poisonous draft. Stepping out of shot as a potential hero and oozing back into frame with a gun and the cold eyes of death in his face.  These aren’t spoilers by the way – there are a number of characters who could fit these descriptions. That’s what I really enjoyed about the movie: the characters work seamlessly with the plot and its unfolding sting in the tail. The special effects are OK for the period. I think much more could have been made of the house itself, and the suggestion of a network of secret passageways and interconnecting doors – and the actual haunting(s) that predated the current story – but that’s me being over zealous and wanting more from this fragment of classic horror.

Black and White Horror Classic House on Haunted Hill 1959 -Richard Long as Lance Schroeder, Alan Marshal as Dr. David Trent, Carolyn Craig as Nora Manning and Elisha Cook Jr as Watson Pritchard

Black and White Horror: House on Haunted Hill 1959 – a classic cast of characters – click full size

It would also make a fantastic short scenario for many roleplaying game – of many genres. From the middle-earth fantasy of D&D (a strange medieval Lord has his men cajole people to his castle for the night) through to the classic 1920’s investigations of Call of Cthulhu or  the more brutal post-apocalyptic survival horror of Yellow Dawn.

You can watch it now on YouTube thanks to CinemaVintage:

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If you enjoy haunting horror

The Black Lake by David J Rodger a science fiction dark fantasy horror story that blends post-apocalypse with Cthulhu Mythos

Available in paperback and Kindle formats

The Black Lake

By David J Rodger

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A remote island haunted by a terrible act  has brought new monsters into our world

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“Atmospheric and Creepy” – The Guardian on The Black Lake

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“…the best Sci-Fi horror I’ve read in ten years” – Floyd Hayes, Creative Director of World’s Fastest Agency on Dog Eat Dog

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David J Rodger’s vision of a post-apocalyptic world was given a spooky twist last year in The Black Lake, after the action-packed hit Dog Eat Dog and alongside the tense, slow-burning thriller of recently released The Social Club.

In the wake of a cataclysmic event ten years ago (Yellow Dawn), survivors are still struggling to understand what has happened to the Earth – and make sense of the alien, sometimes surreal, consequences that now dominate so much of daily life across the planet.

Five men leave their survivor fortress in Malta on a sea-expedition to the sub-Arctic waters above Scotland. They intend to undertake scientific observations of violent and fascinating meteorological phenomenon that takes place there – considered the focus point of some kind of singularity. What they find is a cosmic horror that seethes amongst the shadows of this darkened world. It is a story of escape and wonder, of madness and terror.

 

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