Many of our viewers share our enjoyment of Vincent Price- so, tonight on MeTV, they will be getting their wishes to see one of his films- in fact, one that many of them have requested! It’s the collaboration between Vincent and that master of ballyhoo, William Castle- in a tale that is a mix of ghost story, domestic tension, and a contest between needy subjects to gain wealth- without losing their lives! It’s the original 1959 version of “House on Haunted Hill”!
We join a group of people, none acquainted with each other, as they make their way to a home rented by Frederick Loren- a millionaire- and his sultry wife Annabelle. These five folks have been invited by Frederick to an unusual party- and the one thing they have in common is the desperate need for money. Frederick offers them the chance to get some- $10,000 each, in fact- with one stipulation- they must spend the night sealed up in this house, from midnight through to the next morning. It sounds simple enough- until it is revealed that this place is haunted by treacherous ghosts of those murdered here-who seem more than willing to add to their number!
Little do the guests realize that Frederick and Annabelle are not exactly a coosome twosome- Frederick thinks that his wife tried to poison him to gain control of his wealth, while Annabelle ( actually his fourth wife) suspects that he did in previous wives, and that he is planning something with this sleepover party.
Among the guests is the house’s actual owner, Watson Pritchard, who relates the haunted history of the place- indeed, his own brother is among the spirits supposedly inhabiting the house. He gives the party a tour of the premises, including a dungeon-like cellar that includes its own acid pit- reputed to be the site of one of the murders. Before long, a few apparitions appear, causing some panic among the guests.
Frederick lays down the contest rules, provides each guest with a gun for protection ( against ghosts?!), and gives the option that anyone who doesn’t want to play may leave. Unfortunately, the caretaker couple of the house leave early, and lock the house up BEFORE the midnight starting point- leaving everyone stuck in the house, like it or not!
Thus begins the quest to survive until morning- as the guests encounter more strange occurrences and what appears to be a death by suicide- or was it murder? Suspicions arise that one of the group in the house may indeed be a murderer- as terror and treachery stand in the way of survival!
We’ll have background information on our cast and the production, and talk about the gimmick Castle invented for this film- a process he called “Emergo”! We’ll also bring you a new song, promotion for a questionable mortgage finance company, a vintage segment with some clips from the film in Svensurround, and more. Though this film is widely seen, since it is has fallen into public domain, we have procured a digitally restored print that looks great.
“House on Haunted Hill” opens its doors to you tonight at 8 pm eastern/pacific, 7 central time. As usual, you can join in on the “Live-Tweet” posting during the show on Twitter- please include the hashtag #svengoolie to your posts. In the Chicago viewing area, viewers get an encore showing of Karloff and Lugosi in “Black Friday” at 11 am on our main local station, CW26.
Join us this evening to spend the night with Vincent Price and a gallery of ghosts- sorry, you will NOT get $10,000 for staying through the entire show, but you will get plenty of fun and fright!