Although not a work of art like The Shining (1980) and Poltergeist (1982), House on Haunted Hill is perhaps the most fun haunted house film ever made.
A big reason for this is, of course, Vincent Price, who plays multi-millionaire Frederick Loren, who offers five people $10,000 each to spend the night in a house which is supposedly haunted. The guests, some of whom are more skeptical than others, are even given pistols as party favors.
Loren also must deal with his unscrupulous wife (Carol Ohmart), who knows more than she’s letting on.
Pretty soon, all the guests are eyeing their host and each other suspiciously in order to make it through the night.
The film was directed by the legendary William Castle, who is known for adding gimmicks to his films.
For this movie, the gimmick was ‘Emergo,’ which entailed a skeleton attached to a wire floating over the audience during the moment in the film when a skeleton goes after Loren’s wife.
The film’s great success and low budget would inspire Alfred Hitchcock to film his classic movie Psycho (1960) in a similar manner.
Castle’s other films include The Tingler (1959), also starring Price, 13 Ghosts (1960) and Homicidal (1961). He would go on to produce Rosemary’s Baby (1968).