HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL
The filmmakers believed that one of the biggest challenges of the film would be to create the
horrifically haunted insane asylum, essentially establishing the house as its own character. In doing so. production design would be a key element.
Malone's vision of the house was based upon an episode of "Tales from the Crypt" shot in an English psychiatric hospital.
"We shot it in a former mental institution that was now being rented out as a film location." recalled Malone. "Before we could begin shooting the film we had to exorcise the location. That event instantly sparked my imagination: make the house a former mental institution turned into
Rather than stick with the traditional Victorian-style haunted house associated with most horror films, production designer David Klassen created a house that looked as if it came straight out of the 1930s. Klassen designed the house in the monolithic style of Albert Speer, the infamous architect of the Third Reich. "It was very exciting to design a psychiatric institute for the criminally insane in this very looming, large and clean style," says
Klassen. "It really draws the audience into the setting."
"David did an amazing job of recreating the house; once you were inside the sets, you felt like you were in the actual home," says Malone. "It really had a creepy feeling."
In addition to the design of the house, sound and visual effects play an integral part in the storytelling. Malone turned to the renowned visual-effects team of Bob and Dennis
The Academy Award-winning Skotaks, who have worked on such contemporary classics as "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" and "Titanic," were very excited about the
opportunity to work on a horror film. Says Bob Skotak. "Bill Malone's an old friend. I ran into him at a Halloween party last year and he told me he was going to do this movie. I thought it over for a few days and realized that I had never really done visual effects on a fiat- out horror picture before and I wanted to give it a whirl. My brother and I and our digital artist, Helena Packer, discovered that this movie let us try things we'd never done before. It was a lot of fun."
The exterior of the house was created out a combination of matte painting and miniatures. "The only part of the house that was physically real was the entrance," explains Bob
Skotak. "For that, we used the entrance to the Griffith Park Observatory in Los Angeles."
An entire amusement park. based on one that exists in Florida, was created in miniature for some of the early scenes in the movie, continues
"But two of the most interesting things we created were what we called the Shape Shifter and the actual animation of the building itself," he says. "There's a supernatural presence in the house that shows up both as a sort of moving tangle of images and as a physical transformation of the walls and objects. In both situations, we used a combination of actual images and practical construction as well as digital compositing to create very disturbing moments onscreen. I don't believe what we did has ever been done before and we're very pleased with the results we achieved."
Supervising sound editor Dane Davis, who previously' collaborated with Joel Silver on the sensational hit "The Matrix," also had the opportunity to achieve some technological "firsts" with "House on Haunted
"I think this is the first movie to use a completely virtual mix," explains Davis. "Using some brand-new software, I was able to capture and create sounds, combine special effects, music, dialogue and background, and keep the entire mix in the computer where each element could be manipulated. I could change the relationship between sounds, or control the timbre and intensity of a particular
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