Lately we’ve been encountering a few lost souls who seem to think the horror genre didn’t start until 1970. An “old” scary movie to them is The Exorcist, or Texas Chainsaw Massacre, or Lord have mercy, even Friday the 13th. It’s probably a generational thing, and we understand that when you were born in 1997, a film from 1973 probably seems very…old. But, this week we are here to encourage the young’uns to go back a little further – to delve a little deeper – and explore the indisputably old horror films, such as this week’s feature, 1959’s House on Haunted Hill.
We open on darkness. We hear distinctly terrifying, blood-curdling screams against the black screen. After 40 seconds, the disembodied head of Watson Pritchard appears, warning us that “the ghosts are moving tonight.” He goes on to tell us of his family home, the “only really haunted house in the world.” We hear the tale of seven murders that have occurred in the house, including that of his brother. Shortly thereafter, another head appears – it’s Frederick Loren, the host of the night’s soiree, tempting us with a generous reward if we dare to spend the night in the foreboding house, and of course, if we make it out alive.
Filled with mystery, revenge, murderous “party favors,” a goofy skeleton, a ghoulish woman named Mrs. Slydes, screams, chills, and thrills, the suspenseful mayhem of House on Haunted Hill is lauded to this day as a standout horror picture from a bygone era. And Vincent Price in this? We can’t think of any role that is more well-suited for him.
Part of the reason we know these old, rather, classic films get overlooked by newer generations is that they always seem corny in comparison to our modern sensibilities. Mostly, the scare moments are laughable instead of terrifying, and the use of archaic language or effects can be trying to some. But these old films are the films that influenced your favorite filmmakers of today, who will in turn influence your favorite filmmakers of tomorrow. If not for William Castle, there may not have been Joe Dante. Without Joe Dante, there’s no modern era of horror-comedy – namely, no Gremlins. Do you really want to live in a world with no Gremlins?
Click below to hear how much we enjoy 1959’s House on Haunted Hill, and stick around for a little bit on its lackluster 1999 remake. While you’re at it, leave us a rating or review, and subscribe on your favorite podcast app! As always, check us out on Twitter and Facebook! Thanks for listening!