April 12, 2017

The House on Haunted Hill (1999)

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(A Note From Derek: We got our hands on some new equipment this week, and we're still working with it to get the best sound we can. Naturally, there may be a few teething problems, so please be patient while we get these newfangled doohickeys working right. Thanks!)

This week, the guys decided to look at a re-make make of a Vincent Price classic. But don't let the fact that Price is not in it deter you from watching it.

That's what Chris Kattan is for!
It stars Geoffrey Rush, who, despite an excessively over-spelled name, manages to deliver the kind of performance that can make you believe that he will one day play pirate second-banana to Johnny Depp. (But, you know, in a good way.) It also has Famke Janssen, Ali Larter, Taye Diggs, Jeffrey "Reasonably Spelled Name" Combs, Peter Gallagher and his eyebrows, Bridgette Wilson, and, as noted above, Chris Kattan. There are also bonus appearances by the guy who played Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (James Marsten), Peter "I'm Peter Graves" Graves, and the perpetually adorable Lisa Loeb!

But, for the most part, you're stuck with these guys.
Waaaaaay back in 1931, there was an insane asylum on a huge cliff face, where a deranged doctor (Combs) experimented on his patients in the creepiest and grossest ways possible...until the patients had enough and revolted against him and his staff, killing them all.

And it's all Dr. David Arquette's fault.
But forget about that for now, because Stephen Price is opening a new amusement park ride and throwing a birthday/murder party for his wife, Evelyn (Janssen)! And she's down for it because she wants the "murder" part to be his! What we're saying is, their marriage is not on the most stable of grounds. And things go from bad to worse when, after the party guest list is mysteriously changed, a whole bunch of people neither of them know show up to see what the heck this nutjob wants with them.

Maybe he needs help with his Jazz Hands, because he just can't get it right.
Among the mysterious party guests is Watson Pritchett (Kattan), who owns the house Price and his wife live in. He is unsure what's going on, but he's really not keen on taking part in whatever it is. Also, there's Nora Manning (Larter), Lance Schroeder (Diggs), Dr. David Trent (Gallagher and his eyebrows), and Ruth Bridgers (Wilson). While they spend a lot of time arguing over why they are there, Evelyn tries to shoot Price, and the house mysteriously locks them all in.

Even Dr. Trent's eyebrows can't save them now!
Pritchett tells everyone that the house is going to kill them all, and he slowly, throughout the entire movie, explains why: This house...is the asylum from the beginning of the movie! We know--shocking, right? But Price isn't going to worry about that, because he has an offer for him guests, and he informs them that, if they can manage to stay in the house for the whole night, each of them will get a cashier's check for one million dollars. And if anybody dies or leaves, their share will be divided among those remaining. See? It's fun! And no reason at all for anybody to consider killing the others in order to take home a bigger chunk of the money!

But Evelyn wants all the money. As well as a little bit of murder.
What follows is a lot of bickering, some light murder, and more bickering. But when people start actually disappearing ("because the house is doing it," according to Pritchett), the arguments sort of slow down long enough to try finding them, as well as a way out of this place. Along the way, we learn that not everyone here is whom they appear to be. In particular, Nora reveals to Lance that she's not exactly the studio executive she claimed to be, but rather that executive's assistant who was recently fired. Then she is almost dragged to her death in a big ol' tub full of blood. (Well, where else would you keep it?)

Somehow, Evelyn ends up strapped to a table and electrocuted. The others force price into this weird chamber where he has to watch a cinematograph of what looks like John Cleese playing basketball in a tuxedo while the lights strobe. This was designed by the crazy doctor at the beginning, who believed that if this sort of thing could drive a sane man crazy, it totally had to work the other way, right? Anyway, he's locked in, and the others go off looking for an exit again.

Except for Eyebrows, who goes to Evelyn's corpse, still on the table, and starts groping it, kissing it, and giving it injections in its hoo-ha, which is not, as far as we know, the way you're supposed to prepare a corpse. But we're not doctors, so...

Well, it seems to work because, surprise! Evelyn's not dead! Dr. Eyebrows gave her Atropine to make everyone think she was dead, because they are both terrible people who do terrible things. Case in point: Feeling that her (fake) death was not enough to turn everyone against Price, she decides that murdering Dr. Eyebrows would be just right, so she does.

But we have to wonder...Will her plan to murder Price work? What about his plan to murder her? Will anyone find Nora? Or will it all be thrown out the window for a ridiculous "Tittie Smoke Monster" (a term coined by Jake)?

Did you really have to wonder?
you'll have to tune in to find out what happens next!

Jake has a deep love of this film. Although it is absurd, it captures the spirit of the original, and Geoffrey Rush's attempt at being Vincent Price is absolutely amazing. He does, however, not care for the CGI, which can best be described as "like The Matrix (which came out the same year), but not!"

Larry also likes this film unnaturally. His intense dislike of Chris Kattan, however, can only be described as "exactly like any right-thinking person would feel." For him, the CGI was also not very good at all, although it didn't take him out of the film like it did in Below, mostly because there was more gore.

Derek is all over the map on this one. While he didn't care for most of the movie, he felt the only problem with the CGI was that it lacked dimension. As for Chris Kattan...While he agrees that Kattan is an awful human being who should never be allowed to utter words in front of a camera ever, he also gave the most realistic performance. Weird.

So put on your straightjacket, strap on your murderin' shoes, and tune in to this week's episode!