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William Castle Continues to Prove It’s Hard to Keep a Dead Man Down

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For all the entertaining he did in life, William Castle is proving to be just as enjoyable in the afterlife. We recently told you about his upcoming book From the Grave: The Prayer. Now the ghostly scribe has yet another work about to be released, and this one’s based around a classic film.

House on Haunted Hill: A William Castle Annotated Screamplay is a completely restored authentic script from Castle’s most recognizable work. It’s so complete it even contains Castle’s handwritten notes. A true look into the mind of this brilliant director/showman. The book has an October 31 release date and is a very interesting collector’s item for fans of the late(?) director. Read on for the details and info on some upcoming live(?) events.

From the Press Release
Due out on October 31, 2011, William Castle Productions proudly presents House on Haunted Hill: A William Castle Annotated Screamplay. The book features legendary horror filmmaker William Castle’s authentic working script from his 1959 classic thriller with original formatting and Castle’s own hand-written notes. This collector’s item even comes with a new twist on Castle’s famous theater gimmick, Emerg-O. The 248-page book includes a foreword by acclaimed director Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Howling, Matinee), hailing the book as “an important artifact.” It also includes an introduction by William’s daughter, Terry Castle, who shares her personal thoughts on this seminal piece of film history. A critical perspective of the film by writer and illustrator Charlie Largent is also included as well as a special welcome from William Castle himself.

The Screamplay will be available in print for $24.99 via Amazon and select retailers through the recently resurrected William Castle Productions (ISBN-13: 978-0578092928). For more information please visit the William Castle Productions website.

“It’s not that often that you find a script from this period surviving with annotations,” writes Joe Dante in the introduction, “And that’s what makes reading this script such a pleasant surprise; you can actually imagine what it was like to be there, reading the script on the set with the actors, and coming up with artistic decisions on the spot.”

House on Haunted Hill remains a classic chiller to this day. Produced and directed by William Castle and written by Robb White, the shocker is beloved not only for Castle’s suspense-filled direction but what came to be known as “The Gimmick,” carnival sideshow trickery that both scared and delighted the audience. The original film stars the inimitable Vincent Price and features the classic gimmick Emerg-O – an inflatable glow in the dark skeleton attached to a wire that floated over the heads of the uproarious audience during the final moments of the film to parallel the action on the screen.

Upcoming William Castle Events
New York City:
10/16 – Books of Wonder’s “Chills & Thrills for Young Readers” – 1:00pm – Terry Castle’s FearMaker: Family Matters book reading/signing – Event info

Buffalo:
10/19 – Buffalo International Film Festival [Lancaster] – 7:30pm – SKYPE appearance to introduce House on Haunted Hill screening with Emerg-O! Buffalo Film Festival and Event info

New Jersey:
10/28 – Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre [Jersey City] – 8:00pm – House on Haunted Hill screening with Emerg-O! – Castle’s grandson hosts a Q&A and raffle with copies of House on Haunted Hill: A William Castle Annotated ScreemplayEvent info

SF Bay Area:
10/21 – Book Passage [Corte Madera] – 7:00pm – From The Grave: The Prayer book reading/signing – Event info

LA
10/22 – Aero Theatre [Santa Monica] – 6:30pm – House on Haunted Hill screening with Emerg-O! as part of American Cinematheque’s Vincent Price Centennial Weekend. Introduction by Terry Castle who will sign copies of House on Haunted Hill: A William Castle Annotated Screamplay before the film in the Aero lobby – Event info

10/27 – Stories Books & Café [Echo Park] – 7:30pm – From The Grave: The Prayer & FearMaker: Family Matters book reading/signing – Event info

11/10 – Larry Edmunds [Hollywood] 7:30pm – House on Haunted Hill: A William Castle Annotated Screamplay book reading/signing – Event info

William Castle Continues to Prove It's Hard to Keep a Dead Man Down

William Castle Continues to Prove It's Hard to Keep a Dead Man Down

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Video: The Shape of Water Q&A with Guillermo del Toro and Doug Jones at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre

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This past weekend at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, CA betwixt a double screening of The Shape of Water and the classic The Creature from the Black Lagoon, the former’s director Guillermo del Toro (and star Doug Jones) sat down to discuss the latter’s influence on the film, Gill-man sex, “one sock movies,” his career in the genre, and more with moderator Jonah Ray, and we were there to film a portion of it.

Our sincere thanks to American Cinematheque general manager Dennis Bartok for extending the invitation.

For more Cinematheque screenings, visit the official website here.

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The Open House Review – Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here

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Starring Dylan Minnette, Piercey Dalton, Patricia Bethune, Sharif Atkins

Written by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote

Directed by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote


Mere weeks, even days, after effusively beating Netflix’s original horror content drum (The Babysitter, Before I Wake, Creep 2), I’m here to confirm that The Open House is emptier than an vacant bomb shelter. Cold, unappealing and thoughtlessly plotted to the point where “generic” would have been an improvement. From the moment we’re welcomed into Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote’s scripted imprisonment, it’s nothing but loose floorboards and busted plumbing. The home invasion genre has rarely been navigated with such little attention to detail, asking for our suspension of coherent storytelling early, often, and without earning the right to be deemed mindless genre fun. Not even Ty Pennington could save this extreme renovation disaster.

Dylan Minnette plays Logan Wallace, a track star and student who must find closure after watching his father fall victim to a fatal car accident. It is his mother Naomi’s (Piercey Dalton) idea to spend a little time away from their suburban home – escape those painful memories – so they retreat to her sister’s luxurious mountain getaway. The catch? It’s in the process of being sold and open houses are on the regular, so Naomi and Logan must vacate their temporary premises on certain days. It’s after one of these very showings that Logan begins to notice slight changes around the house, and he fears that an unwanted visitor may be in their midst. Guess what? He’s right.

To understand how little The Open House cares about conscious blueprinting, just read the poster’s tagline. “You can’t lock out what’s already inside” – right, but you could have prevented them from coming in, or checked the house to make sure they weren’t squatting, or explored numerous other possibilities to avoid this scenario. The mansion’s realtor allows prospective buyers to come and go but it’s not her job to make sure no one’s hiding in the basement? Naomi can’t even keep track of the *single* visitor she lets look around the house? It’s infuriating to see so many people neglect safety out of forced coincidence because the script couldn’t rationalize the killer’s entry any other way – a confounding strike one.

This is also a film that admits no reasoning for why its own murderer has targeted the Wallaces, or why he stokes a violent fetish when it comes to open houses. We never actually see his face, just his imposing handyman-looking attire, nor do we savor any kind of tangible backstory (his family died during their own open house and he suffered a psychotic breakdown – just give me *something*). His undefined form never demands curiosity like John Carpenter’s “The Shape” once did, because scripting is nothing more than bullet notes for basic horror movie necessities. Here he is, your bad guy – too bad he’s introduced without fear, handled without originality and unable to characterize beyond torturous kidnapper dotted lines. He’s just, you know, a guy who sneaks into open houses and kills – COMPLETE WITH A FINAL PAN-IN ON AN OPEN HOUSE SIGN WHEN HE MOVES TO HIS NEXT TARGET [eye roll into infinity].

Every scene in The Open House feels like an afterthought. “Ah, we need a way to build tension – how about a senile local woman who lives down the street and wanders aimlessly into frame?” Overplayed and in no way suitable to most her inclusions, but sure. “Oh, and we need inner conflict – what about if the breaker-iner steals Logan’s phone and frames him for later acts?” I mean, didn’t Logan canonically lose his phone even before Naomi’s mid-shower water heater issues – but sure, instant fake tension. “How are people going to believe the killer is always around and never blows his cover – think they’ll just buy it?” No, we don’t. Worse off, his cat-and-mouse game is dully repetitive until a finale that skyrockets intensity with jarring tonal imbalance. This closing, dreadful end without any sort of redemptive quality. More abusive than it is fulfilling.

If there’s anything positive worth conveying, it’s that Minnette does a fine job shuffling around as a character with severe sight impairment. The killer makes a point to remove his contacts as a final “FUCK YOU,” just to toy around a bit more, and Minnette frantically slips or stumbles with nothing more than foggy vision. Otherwise, dialogue finds itself ripped form a billion other straight-to-TV Logo dramas about broken families, no moment ever utilizing horror past a few shadowy forms standing in doorways after oblivious characters turn away. You can’t just take an overused subgenre and sleepwalk through homogenized beats…case and god-forsaken point.

Even as a streamable Netflix watch, The Open House is irredeemable beyond fault. The walls are caving in on this dilapidated excuse for home invasion horror, benefiting not from the star power of a temperamental Dylan Minnette. I have seen most involved players here in far better projects (Minnette’s stock has rightfully been skyrocketing, Matt Angel in The Funhouse Massacre, etc), but this is bargain bin theatrics without a fully formed idea. A nameless villain, doomed nice guy (Sharif Atkins), woefully unaware plot advancement – all the worst cliches found in one rage-quit worthy effort. Anyone who makes it through deserves an award…or a dunce cap.

  • The Open House
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Summary

Unless you’re irrationally afraid of cold showers, The Open House fails to deliver on a premise that can be summed up by no more than two lines of text.

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Michael C. Hall Buried in Stephen King’s Pet Sematary

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Now here’s an audio book we can REALLY get behind! Entertainment Weekly is reporting that former “Dexter” star Michael C. Hall will be narrating the first ever unabridged recording of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. Sometime’s audio is better!

Readers have been asking for this audiobook for a very long time,” Stephen King said in a statement. “I know the listening experience will be worth the wait with Michael as narrator.

We’re thrilled to finally bring Pet Sematary to King’s audiobook fans,” Simon & Schuster Audio president and publisher Chris Lynch added. “Michael C. Hall is a perfect match for this timeless story, which has long deserved an unabridged production.

The unabridged audiobook of Pet Sematary will be released by Simon & Schuster Audio on March 27. Speaking of Hall… you know he would make a pretty friggin’ good casting choice to play Victor Pascow in the upcoming Pet Sematary remake. Just sayin’.

BUY IT NOW!

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