May 18th, 2012: House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Cast and Crew:  William Castle (Director, Producer); Robb White (Writer, Associate Producer)

What It’s About: Frederick Loren (Vincent Price)  throws a very unusual party for his fourth wife, Annabelle (Carol Ohmart):  he invites guests who don’t know one another or him, gives each a present of a small coffin loaded with a .45, and promises $1o,ooo to anyone who spends the night in the “House on Haunted Hill”, known for its seven murders….and their ghosts!  At midnight the caretakers lock the doors…will anyone be alive in the morning when they are opened?

Why Watch it Today?:  Elisha Cook Jr., one of the great character actors of the 40s through 60s, died today in 1995.  Although he was in more famous films, his role here as Watson Pritchard is one of my favorites.  Pritchard bought the mansion, and spent just one night there; when they found him the next day, he was a complete wreck.  Cook’s disembodied head introduces the film, setting the mood that Cook shores up throughout the film with his warnings and forebodings.

Where to Get It: House on Haunted Hill is in the public domain, so its available online free nearly everywhere;  why not try the YouTube version below?

Other Choices:  Elisha Cook appeared in former Movies of the Day Blacula, The Big Sleep, and The Maltese Falcon.

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