House on Haunted Hill (1959) - dir. William Castle; starring Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart
Vincent Price is the man. He is one of the great all-time suspense/horror actors also. This film ranks up in one of his best horror films. This is a devilishly delightful tale of intrigue and horror. Unlike its 1999 remake, this film does not settle for cheap thrills but instead plays on the insecurities of the audience. We are the ones that are placing our own value of horror on the events of the movie, because not one ghost, ghoul or long-legged beastie appears in the film.
The setup for the film is great where Price’s character has specifically invited certain people to a haunted house party and if they make it through the night then he will pay them 10,000 dollars each. The absolute genius of the film is the nastiness and seething hatred that is apparent between Price and his wife. The dialogue is ridiculously sharp and cutting between these lovers. And, in the end, we find that the explanation for the night lies exactly where the film started, in the midst of a lover’s spat. This is an exceptional example of an early horror movie that is smart and full of suspense and tension.