House on Haunted Hill Compare and Contrast Essay by Joe O’Donnell, Jr.

Joe O'Donnell, Jr.

Joe O'Donnell, Jr.

People go to see motion pictures for different reasons. Some people love the movie trailers that are shown on television or the internet. Others go because they had read the novel, or graphic novel. Still some want to compare the original movie to the remake. I’m going to be talking about both the 1959 and 1999 versions of House on Haunted hill.

In the introduction of the original film, the screen is black, and then you hear moans of man and the rattling of chains; all of a sudden, blood curdling screams from a woman.  A floating head appears on the screen, he introduces himself as Watson Pritchard, the caretaker of the House on Haunted Hill. He tells the audience that the house is haunted because of murders taking place inside the house, including the murder of his brother and sister-in-law. Watson then vanishes. Another floating head of a different man appears. He announces his name as Frederick Loren; he tells the audience that he has rented the house for a haunted theme party for his wife.Frederick has invited five guests to stay at the house for one night and each guest will get $10,000 if they stay the entire time.

In the introduction of the remake, the film shows the inside of a mental asylum and the head doctor, Dr. Richard Vannacutt, who is performing surgery on a conscious patient. Meanwhile, a male staff member clocks in for his shift. As he’s reading his paper work, he notices a female inmate standing in front of his security station. He thinks nothing about it and proceeds back to the paper work. Back in the surgery room, Dr. Vannacutt and his two female nurses notice there are inmates looking through the windows. In the matter of seconds, the inmates cause havoc all through the psychiatric ward. The deranged people start killing, maiming, and raping the staff. Dr. Richard struggles to reach for a lever that will lock down the asylum. During this time, a fire has started adding to the turmoil. The head doctor was able to hit the switch and the security panels’ close the doors and windows. The scene transitions to modern times, where you see this is a documentary on a television show. A woman is watching this program inside a tub in a luxurious bathroom. She is intrigued by the story and decides to make a phone call.  The scene cuts over to an amusement park, where her husband is working, Stephen Price, a multimillionaire, who owns many theme parks. Stephen tells his wife, Evelyn, that he’s busy and hangs up. Mr. Price is being interviewed by a local news team about a new roller coaster attraction. Stephen Price, a female reporter, and camera man board the elevator to the ride. Mr. Price and the reporter where discussing the safety of his rides, then suddenly the elevator stops abruptly. Stephen hits the emergency stop button; he tells the filming crew that everything is fine and that it’s a new and the ride is just working out all the kinks. The cable snaps and the elevator goes plugging towards the ground. The filming crew and Mr. Price are panicking. They’re coming closer to the ground, suddenly you hear and see a voice and an image on the floor of the elevator saying, “you have just survived this ride”. Mr. Price walks out of the elevator and says to the reporter and camera man, “Now, the real ride starts”. Evelyn calls back to tell him that she wants a party at the House on Haunted hill. Meanwhile, the camera man and female news reporter are on the roller coaster going around the track and through loops.  The screen splits back to Stephen talking to his wife, he asked her, “if should just like to go to a fancy restaurant together”. She is very insistent about this party and left a guest list on his desk. On the rollercoaster, the news team is having funny, then part of the track breaks. Another car of people flies off the track. The camera man alerts the female reporter on just what happened. An engineer alerts Price on what just happened. Stephen hangs up the phone again and tells the engineer, “it’s fine, it just needs a little more tweaking”. The broken track comes together and the filming crew is relaxed. Stephen Price is back at the office and he shreds his wife’s guest list. He goes on his computer to write a new guest list. A female secretary comes and advives Mr. Price that his clients are waiting for him. Stephen tells the secretary, “I’ll be there in a second”. He minimizes the email and walks out. An outside source hacks into Stephen’s computer and finds the email, and changes the guest list.

In the original picture, the guests are Lance Schroeder a test pilot, Ruth Brides a columnist who has a debt to pay from gambling, Watson Pritchard a man wants to conquer his fear of the house, Dr. David Trent a psychiatrist who says this event will help with his research on Hysteria, and Nora Manning who works for Mr. Loren and needs the money to support her family. In the remake of the film, the guests are Eddie Baker a former pro baseball star, Donald Blackburn a medical doctor, Melissa Marr a former television star, and Sara Wolfe “aka Jennifer Jensen” a vice president of a film company. Watson Pritchard, in 1999 version, was more of a tour guide for the guests; he was forced to stay because of mysterious activation of house’s security. Watson mentions that his father dies during the construction of penitentiary and his grandfather died inFlorida. In both pictures, Pritchard drinks heavy to steady his nerves and keeps mentioning that the house is haunted. The hosts in both films are wealthy, untrusting their wives, charming to the other guests, and has uncontrollable tempers. The wife in both cinemas are cold blooded, adulterous, avaricious, and tried to murder their husband. Eddie and Lance play the heroic character. Sara and Nora are the damsels in distress. Melissa only cares about getting back to showbiz; where Ruth just wants the money to pay her debt.

The base of the storyline is the same. The guests must stay for one night in order to collect the money. In the original movie, each guest will get $10,000 dollars but, if they die, their next of kin will get the money. In the remake, each guest will get $1,000,000 dollars but if they died, their money would be split between the other guests. In the 1959 version, the guest is chosen by Fredrick Loren. In 1999 version, the guests were not picked by either Evelyn or Stephen Price. The guests in both movies did arrive in hearses. Each guest is given a gun for protection from ghosts or each other. Sometime in the picture, hostess is murder by something or someone. Though the method differs from strangulation to electrocution .The host believes it was one of the guests that murdered his wife. The party goers try to find out who is the guilty one. The wife in both films makes a secret deal with the doctor in order to collect her husband’s money. She would fake her death and make the other guest believe her husband has killed her. Then this could cause panic for one guest to shoot her husband in self defense, and then she would be able to collect his fortune.

The ending in both films are different. In the 1959 picture, Nora is completely out of mind due to all happenings in house caused by Annabelle and David. She shootsFrederickin a cellar and kills him. David appears and consults Nora then tells her to go upstairs. David tries to dump his body but, unaware thatFrederickis still alive. Mrs. Loren comes down the cellar in search of the doctor. The lights go dim and a skeleton appears then, you hear voice fromFrederickcomes from it. The skeleton leads Annabelle towards a trap door filled with acid. The skeleton pushes her in. Mr. Loren appears out from a doorway; he’s using the skeleton as a puppet and throws it into trap. Lance, Nora, and Ruth rush down to cellar after hearing Nora shotFrederick. Mr. Loren appears in front them. Nora is confused.Frederickexplains that all guns had blanks and that his wife and doctor were planning to kill him.  In the 1999 film, Donald wakes up Mrs. Price and tells her everything is going as planned. Evelyn asks him about the one guest that went missing. Dr. Blackburn tells her that they still didn’t found. Evelyn believes this is a snag in her scheme. She has another idea and mentions it to Donald. She wants a dead body and Donald asks who. Evelyn stabs Dr. Blackburn repetitively. Sara and Eddie go to the room where Mrs. Price’s body was left. They did not find the body was missing but, a massive amount of blood was on the floor. Wolfe and Baker go to where Stephen was locked up. Mr. Price was missing and Donald’s head was skewed on the door and the other half was lying inside. Sara runs out the room into the hallway where she finds Stephen Price covered in blood. Stephen asks incessantly for help and Sara warns him to stay back. Stephen comes closer to her and Sara shoots him. Eddie rushes to where Sara is and he sees her with the gun in her hand and Mr. Price dead on the floor. He takes her up stairs. Mrs. Price wonders in and stands over Stephen’s body. Evelyn says, “Why couldn’t you just tear up the prenuptial agreement and give me half of your fortune”. Mr. Price springs up to life and chokes Evelyn. She asks, “Why aren’t you dead”? Stephen throws her into a partially built wall and shows her that he had a bullet resistant vest on. Inside where Mrs. Price lays semi-conscious reveals a dark specter. The phantom has the presences of many of deceased. Stephen is shocked after what he sees and tells Evelyn get up. Struggling to get up, the evil spirit consumes her and her body turn into ashes. Stephen is feeling a bit remorseful over the death of his wife. The apparition appears now as his dead wife and telling him to join them. Stephen runs upstairs to get to main floor but, the door is locked and the poltergeist is getting closer. Price bangs on the door to let him out. Sara and Eddie hear screaming and pounding. Baker warns Wolfe not to open the door but, she does anyways. They’re shock to see Stephen alive and Price tells them to run. Sara looks down and sees a creeping black shadow. Stephen says, “Get to the attic”! Everyone is running upstairs for their lives. Sara turns back and sees the ghost of Melissa. Melissa asks, “Aren’t you going to see my new show”? She runs even faster. Everyone makes haste to the attic and they’re looking for a switch to open the security panels. Mr. Price finds the lever that opens the steel doors around the windows. The ghost is now in the room. Stephen sacrifices himself in order to save the other two. Eddie tells Sara to get outside. She gets outside on the ledge of tower. The specter cuts the wires that hold panels in place and now is coming for Baker. Eddie curled into the corner and prepares to died. Watson’s soul appears to help Eddie escape and he pushes a lever that opens the panels again. Eddie rushes outside and the panels’ shut. The souls are angry and vanish. Eddie and Sara are sitting on the ledge watching the sunrise and all of the sudden Eddie sees an envelope. The letter contains the checks that Stephen Price wrote out. Overjoyed that they survived and having Five Million dollars in their hands. Sara ask, “How are going to get down”?

First, these films were made in two different time periods. So things like color, special effects, and computer graphics will change the outcome of the picture for the audience. The remake has gore, and tells more about the lives of the husband and wife, and is more of horror film. The original is more murder mystery type that uses few horror aspects. The body count is much higher in the remake then the original. In my opinion, the first film is superior to the second because it was well written and you have more emotion towards the characters versus the remake.

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