STUDIO: Warner Bros.
MSRP: $27.98
RATED: Unrated
RUNNING TIME: 81 Minutes
• Character Confessionals Gallery
• The Search for an Idol: Dr. Richard Hammer’s Quest
• Additional Scenes
• Mushroomhead Simple Survival Music Video

The Pitch

“Excuse me sir. You’ve got some Indiana Jones in my House on Haunted Hill.”

The Humans

Amanda Righetti, Cerina Vincent, Erik Palladino, Tom Riley, Andrew-Lee Potts, Steven Pacey, and Jeffrey Combs.

The Nutshell

Ariel Wolfe’s sister Sara survived Evelyn Price’s birthday bash only to meet the business end of a firearm. Sara’s death pulls Ariel into the quest for the Baphomet statue and back to the house where it all began.

Jerry told Rebecca to blow it out her ear. Rebecca is a literalist.

The Lowdown

The good Dr. Vannacutt (Combs) wasn’t just a sadistic physician, but also a collector of fine art. He had in his possession one Baphomet statue, the object Dr. Richard Hammer (Pacey) has spent the last 20 years searching for. Hammer isn’t alone in his search. His former protégé, Desmond (Palladino), wants the idol and the five million dollar paycheck that comes with it. It’s the classic “museum vs. private collection” debate that still burns up the archeology field. Sara Wolfe was going to help Dr. Hammer find the statue using Dr. Vannacutt’s journal, but death prevents her participation. The journal ends up in sister Ariel’s (Righetti) hands, which puts her in the hands of Desmond and his henchmen. Everybody ends up at the Hill House looking for the statue. Needless to say, henchmen will be killed.  Deception will be revealed. Shirts will get wet. Steps will be taken to ensure the shirts remain wet. And I bet the statue has something to do with the evil of the house.

"Where’s Taye Diggs?" "I thought he was with you."

Return to House on Haunted Hill is a sequel that tries too hard. It tries to tie into its predecessor. It tries to pump up the legend of the house with all the Baphomet statue nonsense. It tries to add Indiana Jones-style intrigue. The star of the Haunted Hill films is the house. We want to see what the house and the ghosts inside are going to do to those foolish enough to enter. Their reasons for going to the house don’t have to be spectacular, just somewhat plausible. If there must be a plot, it should at least add up to something somewhat satisfying. The concept here seems to be "let’s just throw a bunch of ideas together and see what happens", which is usually not the recipe you want to follow.

There are a few bright spots. The "Brides of Dracula meets The Shining" bit was somewhat inspired. The dedication it takes to keep Righetti’s shirt wet for half of the movie is something to applaud. Vannacutt possibly being a Nazi. He was a doctor experimenting on people, which is a red flag. Having him toss living people into incinerators and dabbling in the occult only adds to my suspicions. That gives you at least a little something to chew on after being let down by the movie as a whole.

Crystal was always confusing Fleshlights with flashlights.

The Package

RtHoHH comes with a smattering of special features. First up is the “Character Confessionals”, where the characters take a minute out of their adventures to feed us tidbits of the plot. “Search for an Idol” is more of the same. Dr. Hammer regales us with the history of the Baphomet idol and his quest for it. Four short additional/extended scenes and a music video round out the extras.

The video looks nice enough. The DD 5.1 track carries itself with dignity. Look at the cover art closely. The person who designed it is probably trying to subliminally warn you that the film is a turkey.

The “choose your own adventure” function Devin mentions here is only available on the HD-DVD and Blu-ray editions. Before watching the movie, I thought, “Hey, that sounds like a pretty good idea.” After watching the movie, I thought, “Hey it sounds like somebody read the Young Indiana Jones books back in the day.” But it could make for a more enjoyable viewing experience.

4.6 out 10