Friends, there are times when I will admit that I’m so busy working down here in the Retroist Vault that I fail to see important pieces of news. For example that on Sunday, the classic ‘haunted house’ picture hit it’s 60th Anniversary. William Castle’s legendary picture starring the likes of Vincent Price, Elisha Cook Jr., Carol Ohmart, and Richard Long to name a few is a wonderful movie. Rockford Jay and myself, both huge fans of Castle’s work have managed to put together a screening tonight for the Vault staff – because what better way to spend an evening than watching a Vincent Price film? Oh, before I forget – you are invited to the screen as well, before we begin however I’m going to share some facts with you about the film and give you this friendly warning from Watson Pritchard, the current owner of the House on Haunted Hill!
“The ghosts are moving tonight, restless… hungry. May I introduce myself? I’m Watson Pritchard. In just a moment I’ll show you the only really haunted house in the world. Since it was built a century ago, seven people, including my brother, have been murdered in it. Since then, I’ve owned the house. I only spent one night then and when they found me in the morning, I… I was almost dead.”
Obviously when it comes to the late and great William Castle – the man was a born showman, in fact he was the inspiration for John Goodman’s character in Joe Dante’s Matinee from back in 1993. Castle brilliantly created something of a jump scare right off the bat, with nothing but blackness followed by screams and otherworldly noises – imagine being in a theater auditorium and hearing that with no lights whatsoever. But that wasn’t all of the frights that William Castle had in store for some audiences that caught the film – because House on Haunted Hill was presented in Emergo. Which basically meant that at a certain point in the film a giant plastic skeleton attached to a pulley system would fly above the audiences’ heads!
The story of how Price and Castle became acquainted is an awesome one – I’ll give you the abbreviated version for this article. Vincent Price had been passed over for a part in a movie he had been really pushing for – over an afternoon of coffee and pleasant conversation about House on Haunted Hill at a nearby cafe, the actor and Castle came to an agreement – with Price starring in that picture as well as The Tingler. In my humble opinion I actually prefer the latter more – but it’s hard to resist the terror of a crawling and strangling parasite, especially when it strikes at a movie theater.
Now then, I see Rockford Jay has given me the okay – the Projectionist has House on Haunted Hill threaded up and we are ready to go. I have your ticket right here, so dim those lights if you can and turn up the volume as we celebrate the 60th Anniversary of House on Haunted Hill!