Return To House On
A- Sound: B Extras: C Film: D
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.
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.
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.
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.
on how bad this is, try our coverage on HD-DVD and DVD-Video at:
- Nate Goss