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HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL Revisited and MORE!
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The Bite #82
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HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL Revisited and MORE!

October 29, 2019

In this Issue:


HORROR HISTORY: YOU’RE INVITED TO ONE HELL OF A PARTY

By Marisa Mirabal*

Haunted houses are a seminal setting within the horror genre. Their histories range from violent murders and demonic possession to witchcraft, ancient burial grounds, and insane asylums, all of which provide a menacing backdrop for tales of terror. This particular subgenre possesses a vastly experimental playground for technical execution and storyline that allows its visual aesthetic to thrive while the film’s characters spiral into madness, questioning the very fabric of life and death. Enter House on Haunted Hill.

In true William Castle fashion, tricks and treats are plentiful in director William Malone’s 1999 adaptation, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Based off of Castle’s original film of the same name, Malone pulls out all the stops to deliver a zeitgeisty horror film that is pure ‘90s in all of its visual and musical glory. Geoffrey Rush stars as Stephen Price (a nod to Vincent Price complete with signature thin-line mustache), a wealthy amusement park owner keen on scaring his patrons at all costs – a perfect setup for the film’s allusion to Castle’s signature gimmicks as well as a plot device to confuse the characters, forcing them to question what is real and what is a prank. Party guests include ‘90s notables like Famke Janssen, Ali Larter, Taye Diggs, and SNL’s Chris Kattan. There are cameos from Lisa Loeb and James Marsters, and Marilyn Manson’s “Sweet Dreams” cover plays like an eerie broken record throughout the film.

The remake follows the same premise as the original: a group of seemingly random strangers are invited to a haunted house for a party and whoever survives the night collects a monetary prize at the end. Of course, chaos ensues as the history of the building reveals itself. Nothing is as it seems, and no one is to be trusted.

The set design is one of the film’s defining features. Production designer David F. Klassen slayed the aesthetic required for a decrepit insane asylum beyond just cracked walls and cobwebs. Jars of human specimens and encased medical anomalies line the walls, rusted medical devices are illuminated under broken flashing lights, and the film’s “Saturation Chamber” is a wickedly whimsical torture device. The patients’ illnesses were only amplified by the deranged Dr. Vannacutt (played by horror icon Jeffrey Combs) while spotlighting the horrific history of medical techniques.

House on Haunted Hill is a remake that takes up residence in the vein of other Dark Castle films like Thirteen Ghosts and Ghost Ship. Its aesthetic and allusions exhume all the best aspects from the 1959 Castle classic, repurposing them for over-the-top ‘90s culture. It’s a spooky cinematic party and everyone’s invited.


*Marisa Mirabal is an Austin-based writer with a penchant for horror, documentaries, and ’80s sci-fi. You can find more of her work over at Birth.Movies.Death./Film, Fangoria Magazine, and more.


IMAGE OF THE WEEK

Image Of The Week #82 - American Werewolf in London - The Bite

Beware The Moon

While you’re coveting this week’s Things We Love, enjoy this fun behind-the-scenes shot of SFX maestro Rick Baker working on David Naughton’s metamorphosis in An American Werewolf in London.


TINY BITES

HAUNTED COLLECTIBLES, OINGO BOINGO AND MORE

This video purports that Stephen King’s greatest fear is … laundry? They make a solid case.

King also weighed in on the horror movie, show, and book you need to partake in this Halloween season.

Get in the trick-or-treating mood with this short film directed by Graham Reznick and narrated by the Tall Man himself, Angus Scrimm – The Trick Is The Treat. Be sure to plug in your headphones, ASMR fans.

Are you Ablutophobic? How about Chronophobic? Or maybe you’re a little Linonophobic? Don’t worry, there’s a horror movie for that.

Sometimes, truth is scarier than fiction, and these 19 films based on real (and terrifying) stories are perfect examples.

2018’s Halloween may have retconned the franchise, but we’ll always have the delightful gem that is Halloween: H20 and its glorious meta-Psycho moment.

Add more scream to your reading list with these new horror novels and short stories.

The Los Angeles Times takes a close look at how horror television took over the “airwaves”

… while Rolling Stone has a few suggestions for what horror show you should watch next. In fact, they have 30, and they’re ranked.

From Oingo Boingo to Huey Lewis and the News, these are some of the best needle drops in horror movies.

We love good urban myths about the “cursed” makings of our favorite horror films.

The New York Times did a feature on the terrifying world of haunted artifact collection. We’ll stick to our movies and memorabilia, thanks.

While you’re getting your fix of Thriller and The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror this Halloween, don’t forget to rewatch these original Adams Family classics on YouTube.

“Is there a formula for frights?” Is Joker a horror movie? Seems the jury’s still out on this one.


Things We Love #82 - Rick Baker book - The Bite

THE MAN BEHIND THE MONSTERS

Feast your eyes on this monstrous tome. We’re salivating over this deluxe two-volume set of books on Rick Baker’s 50-plus year career, from 1960 to the present.


HEY, THAT’S US! – SHUDDER IN THE NEWS

10 Spooky Shows to Stream for Halloween Screams (Creepshow)

‘Creepshow’ Breaks Viewership Records For AMC’s Shudder

Halloween Hootenannies & Silver Shamrock Shots: An Interview with Darcy The Mail Girl

31 Days of Streaming Horror: ‘Haunt’ Will Get You In the Halloween Spirit

The Ghoul Log: Every Day is Halloween