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Warner Home Video presents
Return To House On Haunted Hill (Unrated) (2007)

"If this place goes into lockdown, we'll be trapped."
- Ariel (Amanda Righetti)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: October 15, 2007

Stars: Amanda Righetti, Tom Riley
Other Stars: Cerina Vincent, Erik Palladino, Andrew-Lee Potts, Steven Pacey, Andrew Pleavin, Gil Kolirin, Chucky Venice, Clyta Rainford, Jeffrey Combs, Laia Gonzŕlez
Director: Victor Garcia

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (horror violence, nudity, language)
Run Time: 01h:21m:05s
Release Date: October 16, 2007
UPC: 085391146766
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- C+B-B- C+

DVD Review

Return To House On Haunted Hill is a sequel to the enjoyable 1999 remake of the 1958 Vincent Price B-movie classic. This time around it is low-cut-top-wearing Amanda Righetti playing the sister of one of the survivors of the 1999 version. As the telling title of this one indicates, a return is made to the titular haunted domicile by a gaggle of expendables; in this case the reason is the hunt for the mysterious and very valuable Baphomet Idol. And once again, the possessed mansion/insane asylum locks itself down with a series of mechanical doors and uncorks all sorts of deadly ghosts to try and kill off everyone inside.

Aside from the setting, the only real tether to the remake is the presence of Jeffrey Combs, who reprises his role as the evil and spectral Dr. Vannacutt. Without any real dialogue however, Combs is left to simply look menacing, popping up here and there like a mad gopher to wreak havoc, such as a neat bit of fast scalpel work he performs during one of the better death scenes. It seems kind of a waste for a genre favorite like Combs to be so underused here, and his presence during the slick opening credit sequence would seem to indicate the promise of a larger role that just never materializes.

Director Victor Garcia uses a lot of that herky-jerky The Ring-styled motion for the ghosts, and by now that sort of movement has become almost de rigueur for the genre. If you've seen one spastic, pale-faced spirit with its head cocked to one side making weird hissing sounds, you've seen them all. In between the familiar-looking moments, it's a bickering mix of good guys and bad guys trying to get their paws on the infamous Baphomet Idol, traipsing through drain tunnels and furnaces while the occasional character gets drawn and quartered or has a brain removed.

None of the characters are especially endearing—and that includes popular genre babe Cerina Vincent, who curiously remains fully clothed throughout—so you can't invest much concern over any of their fates. There's plenty of flashlights, dark corridors, and things that go bump, yet it is almost mechanical in the way it all unfolds, so much so that predicting the order of character deaths should be pretty easy to anyone who has ever seen a similar film. It's very nice to look at, though, with decent set designs that present a respectably creepy haunted house setting.

There is also a separate R-rated version of this DVD available, though this unrated edition only tacks on a couple of additional minutes of runtime, for a whopping 81 minutes altogether. If I was a betting man, I'd wager the cuts for the R rating had to do with softening some of the brief nudity (a bit of ghostly lesbianism) and a couple of the gorier money shots, so if you prefer things unexpurgated, stick with this unrated version.

And be sure to hang for a post-credits tag that not only sets up the possibility for yet another sequel, but includes some bonus nudity as well.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Though a direct-to-video title, Warner Brothers has issued Garcia's sequel in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. With the exception of some early scenes, most of the film is set in the perpetually shadowy interiors of Hill House. Black levels here are decent, and though edges are a little soft, there's no major difficulty in following the action. Some moderate grain is evident here and there, as well.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track is fairly aggressive, which is all well and good for creating the right mood for a haunted house flick. Some discrete rear channel cues and a wide sense of depth across the fronts make for a nice presentation, augmented by periodic sub rumblings. Voice quality is clear, though sometimes dialogue gets pushed down for the sake of sound effects.

A Spanish 5.1 dub is also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Reaping, Bladerunner: 25th Anniversary Edition
4 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray with slipcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: This one has a slipcover if that's important to you, with identical artwork found on the inner case. Extras are fairly minimal, kicking off with a set of actors-in-character segments known as Return To House On Haunted Hill Confessionals (16m:02s); these 19 short bits isolate individual characters, who provide a little background on themselves. Ditto for mock doc The Search For An Idol: Dr. Richard Hammer's Quest (02m:51s), which offers a little pseudo-history presented in-character on the mysterious Baphomet Idol that serves as the apparent source of everyone's problems in the film.

A collection of four additional scenes (07m:46s) are largely alternate variations on existing sequences, none of which are particularly noteworthy. A freaky Slipknot-ish music video by the band Mushroomhead for the tune Simple Survival (03m:16s) is also included, as are trailers for The Reaping and the much anticipated Bladerunner: 25th Anniversary Edition.

The disc is cut into a generous 22 chapters, with optional subtitles in English, French, or Spanish.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

A few quality kills in this sequel give you something to savor, as characters get picked off one by one on trying to make it to the end of the movie. Not nearly as fun as the 1999 Geoffrey Rush/Famke Janssen remake of the original, but worth a rental.

 


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