Saturday, April 28, 2007

Lost Stream Gem: "House On Haunted Hill" (1959)

"I wanna be a Hare Krishna
Tattoo a dot right on my head
And the Prozac is my fixer
I am the living dead."    
Aerosmith ~

In the first five minutes of director William Castle's ( I swear that's his last name) film "House On Haunted Hill" (1959), viewers quickly discover they are in for some campy, appetizing chills and thrills. With the camera zoomed in on multimillionaire Frederick Loren's (Vincent Price) mug, he gleefully explains the premise of his little shindig.

Five strangers are invited to spend the night in a supposedly haunted mansion with the promise of a $10,000 reward to any guest who survives the night. Each invitee is driven to the party in their own individual hearse, forming what appears to be a funeral procession. Again, this is just the first five minutes of the movie. How can this NOT be any good?
Vincent Price

Vincent Price steals every scene with his usual over the top (although toned-down somewhat) acting style, and he's aided by an interesting cast of supporting characters around him.

Perhaps the funniest role (unintentional) is delivered by the wonderful Elisha Cook in his bid as Watson Pritchard, the male "Debbie Downer" of the bunch, spouting gloom and doom every time he opens his mouth.
Elisha Cook Jr.

And the jumpy Nora Manning (Carolyn Craig) has as many screams as she does lines. And for a visual dessert, Annabelle Loren (Carol Ohmart) provides some welcome risqué 1950s eye candy in between the scares and frights.
"Eye Candy"

"House On Haunted Hill" is full of camp-scare moments, some cliché, but with a few that genuinely make you jump. Obviously, this isn't Academy Award winning material, but it is lots of fun.

When the movie first ran in theaters, a skeleton would unexpectedly drop down from the ceiling and dangle over the crowd.  Castle was renown for his awesomely quirky moviehouse monkeyshines.

MUST SEE MOMENT: Watch Elisha Cook's face when Vincent Price finally gives this "Debbie Downer" a good, long overdue neck shake.

"The Farm" - Aerosmith / Nine Lives (1997)

There's a cockroach in my coffee
There's a needle in my arm
And I feel like New York Cittay
Get me to the farm

Get me to the farm
Get me to the farm
Somebody get me to the farm

I got terminal uniqueness
I'm an egocentric man
I get caught up in my freakness
But I ain't no Peter Pan
Get me to the farm

Buckle up straight jack
Sanity is such a drag
Jellybean thorazine
Transcendental jet lag

Sanity I ain't gotta
Feeling like a pi'ata
Sucker punch - blowin' lunch
Motherload - pigeonholed
I'm feeling like I'm gonna explode

I wanna be a Hare Krishna
Tattoo a dot right on my head
And the prozac is my fixer
I am the living dead

Take me to the farm
Take me to the farm
Somebody take me to the farm
Somebody take me to the farm

Casey Chambers
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