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"HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL"
(1999) (Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Extreme Extreme Extreme Moderate
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor Moderate Extreme None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Minor Mild Mild Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Horror: Hoping to receive one million dollars each if they manage to succeed, several strangers attempt to spend the night with a quarreling husband and wife in a long-closed, but reportedly haunted psychiatric institute.
PLOT:
Steven Price (GEOFFREY RUSH) is an amusement park mogul who delights in scaring the dickens out of those who choose to ride his new attractions. His wife, Evelyn (FAMKE JANSSEN), seems to have had enough of him, but nonetheless wants him to throw her a birthday party at the long-closed Vannacutt Psychiatric Institute for the criminally insane.

Empty after a deadly patient rebellion in the 30s save for a family that's taken care of the place, Evelyn thinks it will be a fun place for a party. Price agrees, but destroys her guest list, substituting his own instead. Little does he know, however, that his list is mysteriously deleted and replaced by a quartet of strangers.

Among them is Eddie Baker (TAYE DIGGS), a former pro baseball player, Sara Wolfe (ALI LARTER) a woman who masquerades as her former boss, Dr. Donald Blackburn (PETER GALLAGHER), and Melissa Marr (BRIDGETTE WILSON), a woman willing to do anything to make it on TV.

Arriving at night and greeted at the Institute by Watson Pritchett (CHRIS KATTAN), its latest caretaker, the group heads inside where they meet Steven and Evelyn who both believe the other altered the guest list. To make the evening more fun, Steven announces not only that the building is reportedly haunted -- a fact that Pritchett acknowledges from firsthand experience -- but that he'll pay anyone who can spend the entire night there -- without dying or running away in fright -- one million dollars each. Should someone leave or die, their money would then be split among the "survivors."

The running away aspect is soon resolved, however, as the building's massive but archaic security system closes off any and all exits, doors and windows, effectively sealing everyone inside. From that point on and as the night progresses, the unwillingly assembled group attempts to get out while trying to figure out whether the eerie and seemingly lethal occurrences within the house are just Price's trickery or is a result of the building being haunted.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're into haunted house type horror films, or are fans of anyone in the cast, they might.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For horror violence and gore, sexual images and language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • GEOFFREY RUSH plays a somewhat demented man who gets a kick out of scaring people. He also has it out for his wife, uses strong profanity and briefly smokes.
  • FAMKE JANSSEN plays his wife who can't stand him, drinks heavily and curses just as much.
  • CHRIS KATTAN plays the nervous naysayer who drinks and also uses strong profanity.
  • TAYE DIGGS plays a former pro baseball player who tries to find a way out and uses profanity.
  • ALI LARTER plays a woman who masquerades as her former boss, helps Eddie, cusses and shoots someone she believes to be the killer.
  • BRIDGETTE WILSON plays an aspiring TV personality whose curiosity gets the better of her. She also uses strong profanity.
  • PETER GALLAGHER plays a doctor who conspires against the others.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick summary of the content found in this R-rated horror film. As can be expected for the genre, the film contains a plethora of haunted house type scenes (along with an extreme amount of related music to add to the effect) that may spook, frighten or genuinely terrorize some viewers, all dependent, of course, on their age and tolerance for such scenes and material.

    Violence is extreme with characters being wounded or killed in various ways, including some on-screen (being stabbed with a scalpel, zapped with electricity, etc...) and others off (being decapitated and chopped/sawed into smaller bits, etc...). The results are extremely bloody, with copious amounts of blood pouring from wounds and mouths or being seen on floors, as well as views of those various body parts.

    Profanity is extreme with more than 20 "f" words being used, along with other profanities and colorful phrases. Some sexually related dialogue is present, what looks like a necrophilia-type encounter involves some groping with what's presumably a corpse, and some unrelated glimpses of nudity are also present.

    Bad attitudes are present in the form of those who double-cross and/or kill others, while several characters drink quite a bit and some brief smoking also occurs. Due to the intensity of the horror-related material and gore, we strongly suggest that you more closely examine our listed content should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone in your home.

    Of special note for those concerned with repetitive flashing of bright lights, several scenes of that occur in this picture.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Evelyn has a drink.
  • Price tells the others that there's food and booze in the salon and we then see some of them, including Evelyn and Blackburn, drinking.
  • Blackburn pours liquor on Pritchett's cut hands and the latter then takes a swig from the bottle.
  • Evelyn has a martini.
  • Evelyn has another drink and then another.
  • Melissa has a drink.
  • Pritchett drinks and then has more.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see a "doctor" slicing open a patient with a scalpel and see blood pouring out from the incision.
  • A patient jabs several pencils through a staffer's neck and they come out the other side (with bloody results from the wound and the victim's mouth).
  • We see black and white newsreel footage about a patient revolt and see footage of the above operation, as well as several views of completely charred burn victims after an ensuing fire.
  • Evelyn has a tiny bloody scratch on her face.
  • Pritchett's hands are bloody after he tries breaking the glass of an enclosed window to escape from the building.
  • We see some decomposed but preserved bodies in cases down in the basement.
  • Sarah sees Eddie jump into a large vat of blood and then tries to retrieve him, inserting her arms into the gooey red mess. Later, Sarah has some blood on her face and neck from that and Eddie shows everyone a bloody towel.
  • The group finds a pool of blood on the floor and then a trail leading away from it that then reappears on parts of the ceiling.
  • In a video playback we see a woman's bloody hand and a pool of blood near it.
  • We see a person whose entire face is missing (there's a big, bloody hole in his head where his face should be).
  • Blood pours out of a person's mouth.
  • Price's face is a little bloody after being punched.
  • In some odd hallucinations, we see red blood coming from the mouths of women appearing in black and white, as well as glimpses of what appears to be a severed, stitched up head, and blood then pours from another woman's mouth into the water surrounding her.
  • A man wipes blood from a woman's mouth.
  • A man is bloody (from his wound and mouth) after being knifed in the gut with a scalpel that's then dropped into his blood on the floor. The assailant's hand is very bloody. The remaining group then finds the bloody scene (sans the body) along with a bloody surgical saw.
  • We see a bloody, severed head as well as the headless body.
  • A man is very bloody.
  • A person's hands and face deteriorate as they're consumed by an otherworldly creature. Another person's body later does the same.
  • We see a person's severed head as well as other body parts in a display case.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Price and Evelyn obviously don't get along and he shreds her invite list for her party. Some references are also made to her trying to kill him in the past.
  • Several characters try to kill others for their own good (with some succeeding).
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • For those with low thresholds for scary and/or suspenseful material, this film is a nearly nonstop examination of that. Many, many scenes involve one or more characters slowly walking down or through dimly lit and decrepit hallways and rooms. In addition, scenes listed under "Violence" and "Blood/Gore" may be disturbing and/or frightening to some viewers.
  • In a flashback to the mental institute's "heyday," we hear patients screaming in the background, see another medically being cut open and then a general revolt with the patients attacking and killing the staff. Later, we see black and white newsreel footage of the aftermath of the ensuing fire and see many charred bodies.
  • At an amusement park, an elevator appears to drop hundreds of feet in a free fall, while a roller coaster train appears to jump the tracks.
  • Evelyn briefly aims a handgun at Price's head.
  • Eddie, Sara and Pritchett head into the basement for a several minute sequence of them trying to find the controls for the security system (that includes many long, suspenseful moments as they slowly make their way through the decrepit hallways partially illuminated by flickering lights). As they proceed, they eventually become separated. Sara then sees glimpses and visions of Eddie, but he's acting creepy and continually walks away from her. She finally sees him jump into a vat of blood and when she tries to rescue him, she suddenly sees him approaching her -- not knowing what she's doing -- and then finds something trying to yank her down into the vat (plenty of suspenseful/scary music plays during all of this).
  • Melissa goes down into the basement by herself, videotaping everything as she goes. Something then blows past her and scares her. Only through her camera viewfinder does she then see the aforementioned medical operation from the past, but doesn't see it in person in front of her. She then sees a body of sorts suddenly coming at her rather fast and we then see all sorts of spooky subliminal images flashing on the screen. The others then hear her screams coming from the basement.
  • In a video playback we see a woman's bloody hand and a pool of blood near it. We then hear her screaming, the hand moving and then quickly being dragged out of view.
  • We see a person whose entire face is missing (there's a big, bloody hole in his head where his face should be) and then see an odd, jerky character moving toward Evelyn on a surveillance monitor.
  • We see a person's body wildly jerking and convulsing from being zapped with electroshock therapy.
  • A man experiences weird, unsettling and frightening hallucinations in a sensory overload isolation chamber.
  • A character hears the cries of another, but then encounters a third believed to be a murderer. As a result, the first person then repeatedly shoots the third.
  • A menacing and flowing otherworldly creature chases after and consumes/kills several characters in a several minute sequence.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handguns: Given to various members by Price as part of "the game." Later used to threaten or seemingly kill people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Knife: Carried by a strange "shape shifter."
  • Scalpel: Used to stab someone to death.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "You sick f*ck," "Shut the f*ck up," "Get laid" (sexual), "Pissed off," "Taking a leak," "Bitch," "Piss me off," "Whore," "Pissed," "Moron," "Geek" and "Kick ass."
  • Sarah messes around with some old electrical wiring to get the lights working again (and nearly gets shocked).
  • JUMP SCENES
  • Glass from a ceiling display suddenly falls to the floor.
  • Price suddenly steps into the camera shot during a suspenseful scene.
  • Something suddenly and quickly races toward Melissa.
  • A person suddenly shows up and startles others.
  • A person suddenly grabs another.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • The film is filled with suspenseful, frightening and ominous music.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 21 "f" words (2 used sexually, 1 with "mother"), 18 "s" words, 7 hells, 4 damns, 4 asses (1 used with "hole"), 1 S.O.B., 1 crap, and 11 uses of "G-damn," 6 of "Oh my God," 3 of "Jesus," 2 each of "Oh Jesus," "Oh God," "Jesus Christ" and "For God's sakes," and 1 use each of "What in the name of Christ," "God" and "Swear to God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • During a flashback to a patient revolt at the institute, we briefly see a woman's bare breasts.
  • Stating that she lost her TV show, Melissa says that she either wants "to earn or f*ck my way" back into the business.
  • Evelyn shows a lot of cleavage.
  • Evelyn tells Price that he'll have to try harder next time (to kill her), and then adds, "If you can get it up" (an erection reference).
  • Price tells Evelyn that he'd be delirious "if you weren't f*cking everything in our area code." He then adds that everything about her makes him hot, but then adds not in a sexual way.
  • Eddie feels Sarah's butt as he helps her to stand up on a gurney. She comments that her request for help was not an invitation for him to grope her. He just smiles and some sparks fly between them, but nothing else happens.
  • Pritchett states, "God, I'd love to get laid before I die" and then acts friendly toward Evelyn.
  • In some odd hallucinations, we see glimpses of a woman's bare breasts as well as the bare butts of two crouching women. In an underwater scene, we then see a woman's nude body floating and see her bare breasts and butt.
  • In what initially appears to be a necrophila-related scene, a man kisses a presumably dead woman on the mouth, feels her clothed breast and then runs his hand down her body to her crotch (seen from the side of her body).
  • We see a person's severed body parts (including a bare female breast on the torso) in a display case.
  • SMOKING
  • Price smokes a cigar several times while his assistant is seen smoking once.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Price and Evelyn obviously don't get along and they quarrel quite often (which escalates as the film does).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Whether any houses are really haunted or not.
  • Psychiatric institutes.
  • VIOLENCE
  • In a flashback to the mental institute being open, the patients revolt and attack the staff. As such, many break glass windows, while one jabs several pencils clear though a staffer's neck. Another dunks a person's head under water to drown them.
  • The group is nearly hit by falling glass (resulting in Evelyn with a slight cut on her cheek).
  • Evelyn bites Price's finger.
  • Pritchett breaks the glass of an enclosed window trying to escape from the building.
  • Evelyn briefly aims a handgun at Price's head.
  • Eddie and Sara are nearly hit by falling ceiling debris.
  • Eddie slaps a glass of booze from Pritchett's hand.
  • Evelyn aims her gun at Price and then fires a warning shot by him.
  • We see a person whose entire face is missing (there's a big, bloody hole in his head where his face should be).
  • We see a person's body wildly jerking and convulsing from being electrocuted and blood pours from their mouth.
  • Price holds his gun on the others, causing Sarah to aim hers at him. Eddie then jumps Price who wildly fires his gun until Eddie punches him, slams him back into a wall and punches him several more times.
  • A person stabs another in the gut with a scalpel several times, killing them.
  • We see a bloody, severed head as well as the headless body.
  • One character repeatedly shoots another character (until the latter is presumably dead).
  • A character grabs another by the throat and then slams them around a room and then through a wall that collapses.
  • An otherworldly creature consumes/kills several characters and rips up some hallway flooring as it does so.



  • Reviewed October 29, 1999 / Posted October 30, 1999

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