If there's one gap in my horror viewing, it's material that dates to the 1960's and before. So I jumped at the chance to brush up on some early stuff thanks to Retrofantasma's first show of the year: a William Castle double feature including both the classic House on Haunted Hill from 1959, and the little-known Let's Kill Uncle from the tail end of Castle's career in 1966.
A loose retelling of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, House focuses on a group of individuals invited to a party in an old, reputedly haunted mansion by a reclusive millionaire (played by the always delightful Vincent Price). The catch: if they can stay in the house all night, they'll be rewarded with $10k each. It's a solid premise, especially when the house's violent history is slowly revealed and the tension between the millionaire and his estranged wife becomes murderously palpable. While the material is somewhat campy, it's not afraid to lapse into full-throttle theatrics, which gives it the feel of an old haunted house tour or dinner and murder party. There are a bunch of nice touches along the way too - "party favors" of guns contained in tiny coffins, the constant question of how real the ghosts are, and constant reversals where evil characters are revealed as good, and vice versa. There's also one scare early on that caught me completely off guard, proving that slow pans are way scarier than jump cuts. It's a quick, fun film that takes a number of enjoyable turns. If you're willing to go along with it, it's a good time.
6.5 / 10 = Worth seeing
4.5 / 10 = For completists only (if you can track it down)