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</script></div>{/googleAds}So when you sit down to watch and review a film like Return to House on Haunted Hill, a direct-to-DVD sequel to a remake (!) that wasn't every good to begin with... well, let's just say your expectations aren't very high to say the least. The interesting thing about this film is that, depending on those expectations, you might just have a pretty good time on a Saturday night if the circumstances are right.

Return to House on Haunted Hill plays exactly like a film of this sort should, you have pretty girls and pretty guys going into a creepy mansion, doing and saying stupid things, and getting killed off one by one in a variety of gory and quasi-interesting ways. If you're lucky, at some point, someone is going to get naked and/or get his or her white tank top hosed down along the way. Yes, the film has all of those things, and it has marginally good actors doing dumb things in the name of creative death scenes.

And you know what? It's not half bad.

No, I didn't have several adult beverages before reviewing the film. Okay, I did. But that's not the point. Return to House on Haunted Hill benefits greatly from some slick production design, a fairly interesting plot involving a lost relic, a treasure hunting team, a crazed and sadistic doctor (played by the great Jeffrey Combs!), and some surprisingly nifty special effects to help it all go down easier.

The leads (Amanda Righetti, Cerina Vincent, Erik Palladino, etc.) all do serviceable work as they run screaming through this CGI-enhanced house of horrors. You can see director Victor Garcia going for a kind of cross between a treasure hunting Mummy-style adventure, a straight up haunted house flick, and an attempt to trade up on the last film.

Yes, you can see shades (rip-offs?) of Seven, Hostel, and a hundred better horror films. Yes, sometimes the movie veers off into just being mean for the sake of entertainment. However, for the most part, they pull it off.

Films of this sort are usually cheap knock-offs designed to make a buck for the studio. The interesting thing here is that you can tell that all involved were honestly trying to make a fun and frightening film that target audiences can enjoy on a Halloween night or some post pizza and beer entertainment. Return to House on Haunted Hill contains smarts and not-so smarts in equal measure, so you can enjoy the (surprisingly nasty) gore, gratuitous (and kinda sexy) nudity, and characters that were tailor made to either survive or bite the bullet in grand fashion.

Return to House on Haunted Hill isn't a particularly great film by any stretch of the imagination. Hell, it isn't even a good rental for a casual viewer. But if you love 80's horror films, some cool FX, and want something that seems to scream â"party movie", then this above average sequel might just be your cup of cognac.


DVD Details:

Pretty slim. You get a couple of short featurettes with leads talking about their characters and some of the treasure hunting plot turns. Some needless extended scenes, and a creepy Manson-style music video.

Screen Formats: 2.35:1

Subtitles: English; Spanish; French

Language and Sound: English: English: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; featurettes; extended scenes; music video.

* Featurettes
o Return to House on Haunted Hill Confessionals (16:01)
o The Search for an Idol: Dr. Richard Hammer's Quest (02:51)
* Deleted Scenes - 4 scenes that didn't make the final cut, totalling 07:45.
* Music video: for metal band Mushroomhead's song Simply Survival (03:15)
* Previews: for The Reaping and Blade Runner.

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging