I had always wanted to see this ever since I saw the clip on Bravo of the scary old woman who gets pulled away on a little cart. It is a little surprising even when you know it's coming and I imagine it would have been very scary back in the day. The movie as a whole however really stands as more of a mystery thriller.
The film begins with Vincent Price introducing himself as the millionaire Fredrick Loren, who is throwing a party at the only known haunted house, where each surviving guests receives $5,000. The guests arrive in hearses and Loren presents each guest with a gun inside of a tiny coffin to protect themselves. Loren's wife begins making her appearance and warns some of the guests that her husband is psychotic and is trying to kill every one of them.
Nora, one of the guests is the only one who seems to have any encounter with the "ghosts". She even finds a severed head in her suitcase and is almost strangled in the basement. She soon becomes convinced that Loren is trying to kill her. Once Loren's wife hangs herself the others believe that Loren is responsible for murdering her.
However we soon find out the truth- that Loren's wife was having an affair with the psychiatrist and they faked her death together and drew Nora into hysterics so that she would shoot Loren. Their plan seems to work, as Nora shoots him then runs away. The psychiatrist comes in to drag the body into the acid pit when the lights go out. Loren's wife comes to the basement where a skeleton emerges from the acid pit and talking to her in Loren's voice. She mistakenly falls into the pit and dies when Loren comes out of the shadows holding a contraption to make the skeleton move. The others rush down to the basement where he tells them that his wife and the psychiatrist had planned to murder him and says that he had put blanks into Nora's gun.
The movie is a good mystery, but it completely wipes out any aspect of a horror movie by the end. Every "ghost" was created and rigged to merely frighten Nora into hysterics. Once I found out the scary old lady was one of the caretakers I was a little disappointed. Once again it comes down to the fact that the only thing we have to fear is ourselves. The guns embody this because obviously a gun isn't a real threat to the ghosts, they are only a threat to living people.
I guess I just wished there were some real ghosts. And it's unclear whether or not there is suppose to be. The ominous ending doesn't really give us a clear answer, and we didn't see any evidence of them. So I'm not really sure. I can understand why they chose to make the remake of this film more dependent on real ghosts because it makes it much more interesting. But the movie is still pretty classic and achieves a few scares.
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