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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Slasher > Supernatural > Return To House On Haunted Hill (2007/Blu-ray)

Return To House On Haunted Hill (2007/Blu-ray)


Picture: A-     Sound: B     Extras: C     Film: D



When you typically see a ‘best of’ list or ‘favorites list’ regarding the Horror genre there is a very good chance that one title that will make most serious lists is William Castle’s classic 1959 House on Haunted Hill, which to this day is still chilling, entertaining, and influential in many respects.  Of course the late, great Vincent Price really steals the scene throughout the film and it’s a shame that every imitator of this film since has manages to just botch up a classic in some capacity or another.  The first atrocity came with, but is certainly not limited to 1999’s remake of the same title that somehow manages to get people like Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, and Taye Diggs involved in and the results is a highly forgettable film that has been eclipses now by an even more pathetic attempt with 2007’s straight-to-video Return to House on Haunted Hill, as if we were all crying out desperately for a film to revisit the last disaster of a film.  I just don’t get it. 


Well, I do understand what the ‘idea’ was though this time around as the newer technologies with Blu-ray have enabled the filmmakers to do something different around and basically turn the film into an interactive adventure in which case you determine the outcome of the film by selecting different paths for the characters to go down and the package claims that there are 96 different possibilities.  I did not try all 96, but after a few of them my immediate thought was, “how do I just skip to the end?”  Better yet is there a navigational device that enables me to branch off and go to a better film, like perhaps the original 1959 film?  So this is one of the earlier films to take advantage of this technology, but does that really make the film valuable?  Interesting?  Or enjoyable?  There are even bigger philosophically questions though that are going through my mind at this point in regards to the art of cinema and if ‘the viewer’ is now controlling the outcome what does that say about the people who made the film?  Perhaps it suggests that they were so incompetent, indecisive, and unable to complete the film that they are relying on the viewing public to piece the film together in some semblance. 


Whatever the case may be this Blu-ray presentation is noteworthy for using the technology and benefit that it’s larger storage capacity enables, plus the quality is often quite good in terms of picture and sound, even for a straight-to-video release.  The 2.40 X 1 anamorphically enhanced 1080p High Definition image looks very good and was a surprise as it handles the murky film in very solid ways.  This is indeed a highlight area and the color depth is rich, vibrant, and even stunning in some cases, although the film has a darker palette of colors that it is using, which is the latest trend in these unrated, slasher, gore-fests.  The same does not apply though to the basic Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, which is maybe just a notch above a normal DVD’s audio track in Dolby Digital in terms of presence, fidelity, and overall presentation.  This is a big disappointment as the film needs to rely on its scare-tactical soundtrack to grab the audience, but that rarely happens and after getting used to some of the better Blu-ray and other HD materials audio tracks in either PCM 5.1 or Dolby TrueHD, and even DTS-HD material this simply falls short. 


Fortunately the film is a short 81-minutes, which at times feels a bit longer, but the interacting with the film enables the viewer to create the storyline to some degree and this at least keeps you awake for the most part as you have to keep selecting things, which at times can also be annoying.  Extras also include some deleted scenes, a music video, and some other promo material and the material bounce between different resolutions, which might be distracting on some setups.  You may also have to update to the latest firmware in order to play the entire disc, which I didn’t have any issues with, but it’s going to be player-dependant is my best guess.


For more on how bad this is, try our coverage on HD-DVD and DVD-Video at:





-   Nate Goss


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