An October viewing staple, “House on Haunted Hill” is a go-to title for horror fans, whether referring to the 1959 William Castle feature (one of whose jump-scares landed at #37 on Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments) or its superior Dark Castle Entertainment remake from 1999. It takes place at an allegedly haunted cliffside mansion, where the people summoned there are all in dire need of the reward that comes with escape.
The gameplay element is a financial incentive: the winner will emerge from the fortified building significantly richer. In the original, Vincent Price’s peculiar fat cat Loren offered $10,000 to the victor, a tidy sum in 1959. When the Dark Castle remake of “House on Haunted Hill” was released four decades later, the cash pot (offered this time by Geoffrey Rush, though his character is named Price and he’s clearly using the horror icon as a guiding star in his performance) swelled to a cool million.
The source of the alleged hauntings changed, as well. The specter-filled mansion is now a private residence converted from the Vannacutt Psychiatric Institute for the Criminally Insane, leading to a fantastic fourth-wall-breaking scare with an operating room and a handheld camcorder, one of many tight atmospheric, stylized sequences with eerie imagery. But the parameters of Robb White’s original story (one of five he penned for William Castle productions) remained: survive a night of lockdown in this spooky house, and the money is all yours.
“House on Haunted Hill” is one of the few entries on this list that, according to its professed rules, could allow for multiple players to survive. But survival horror movies generally operate by Highlander rules: there can only be one.