Sleepover at the Vannacutt Psychiatric Institute for the Criminally Insane? Count me in! House on Haunted Hill was one of the first in a glut of glossy remakes of horror classics that came out in the late ’90s and into the 21st century, and it’s still one of the better ones (Granted, that’s like saying Hillary is the more talented Duff sister.).
But for the matters of this website, HHH is noteworthy as one of the few horror films in which “the black guy” (Taye Diggs) not only survives, but he’s also the resident sex symbol hero-type. Although there’s no one clear-cut star, he comes as close as any of the cast, sharing “final girl/guy” status with Ali Larter. While there is mild sexual tension between the two, miscegenation laws in the Red States did not permit any action at the time this was made.
The movie itself, while certainly not the high point in Geoffrey Rush’s career, has some effectively scary, grisly moments (although the whole “darkness” embodiment of evil is pretty lame for any number of reasons, not the least of which is its resemblance to a Rorschach Test) and is easily superior to contemporary haunted house remakes like the bland The Haunting, the chicken-headed 13 Ghosts and the Ryan Reynolds ab showcase The Amityville Horror.