HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL
About The Production
Director William Castle brought 65 adventure, thriller and horror
movies to the screen from the 1940s to the 70s. Until the time of his death in
1977, he was also known as one of the movie world's most imaginative and
uninhibited film promoters. His publicity stunts included parking an ambulance
and several medical attendants in front of the theater in case an audience
member would be scared literally to death. At screenings of Castle's 1958
version of "House on Haunted Hill." he had skeletons seem to fly off
the screen and over the audience's heads. He also offered death insurance to
anyone whose heart gave out from fright while watching his movie
"Macabre." and he wired theater seats to vibrate when the lights went
out at showings of his film "The Tingler."
Renowned filmmaker Robert Zemeckis had long been a fan of William Castle's work
and counted "House on Haunted Hill" among his all-time favorite
movies. Zemeckis shared his enthusiasm with noted producer Joel Silver, who was
also a longtime fan of the movie. The two decided it would be an ideal project
for a remake, and joined forces with Gil Adler, a friend and partner on such
similarly themed projects as the successful I IBO series "Tales From the
Crypt." Explains Silver, "It's a pure, clean horror story, virtually
the classic setup for a haunted-house tale. Five strangers, a house with a
terrible past. people who have to survive the night — it's just a great story.
told with flair.
There's so much you can do with effects today to take a story like this and move
it into another dimension of entertainment. We thought that a well-chosen cast
and good, strong execution could make this movie fun for a new generation of
As they began researching the picture, which was owned by Warner Bros., they
learned that Terry Castle, daughter of William Castle. was also interested in
remaking the movie. They agreed to join forces on the production, which would
become the premiere offering from Zemeckis' and Silver's Dark Castle
productions, a new film company created "in the spirit of the late William
Castle." Terry Castle enthusiastically joined the team as co-producer.
The filmmakers quickly set out to find the ideal director for their project.
William Malone, a writer and director who is a veteran of the horror genre, was
asked to help develop the film. Malone's history with Zemeckis went all the way
back to Zemeckis' 1978 picture, "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," in which
Malone played George Harrison. He had also, more recently, worked with both
Silver and Zemeckis on episodes of "Tales From the Crypt."
Although Malone had offers at the time to direct other features, he felt
"House on Haunted Hill" was the perfect type of film to remake, and
the perfect opportunity for him.
"The original is fun," says Malone. "I had always been a fan of
William Castle's film and felt that this particular project would be a great
subject for a remake. Plus, I had a lot of interest in doing a haunted-house
Screenwriter Dick Beebe. Malone and the filmmakers began to develop the
screenplay. They decided to keep the premise of the original film, but felt it
would be best to develop the plot to take advantage of today's great
visual-effects technology. "In our movie, we pick up where the original
left off, because we have a lot more special effects." adds Malone.
"Everything, from the house to the underground basements, is bigger and
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