A late night slot at the Pleasance Dome perfectly suits the latest offering from The Lampoons, a raucous, defiantly silly parody of the creaky well-loved William Castle classic, delivered with just the right level of absolutely no respect whatsoever.
So cheerfully and brilliantly telegraphed that the audience is helpless to resist.
Like many of the parody versions of films on offer at the Fringe this year, you needn't have seen the original movie in order to get the jokes. Sure, the humour may be even sweeter if you’ve already enjoyed a wasted evening laughing at the overwrought relationship between Vincent Price’s character and wife Annabelle during a late-night screening of Haunted Hill, but the version here – delivered with plummy intonations and tortured looks – is so cheerfully and brilliantly telegraphed that the audience is helpless to resist.
In fact, the audience is an important element of the show, providing a healthy amount of the special effects: so when a treacherous rainstorm soaks the main characters of the story, those sitting watching are employed to fire water pistols at the actors. One of the great joys of House On Haunted Hill is the way that The Lampoons get the audience to excitedly join in, and then get annoyed when the audience – inevitably – get rather too over-excited, and refuse to put down the water pistols. Christina Baston in particular gives good dead eye.
Following a quite spectacular (and, upon reflection, a spectacularly pointless) costume change, the plot (such as it is) kicks in: a disparate bunch of possibly clichéd characters are forced to stay in a creaky old house overnight for the chance of winning ten thousand dollars. At one point there are as many Vincent Prices as there are Lampoons actors (each competing with one another in terms of moustache size). Subtlety is entirely absent from this hour, but crucially so is any degree of self-indulgence – each joke pulled apart for the maximum amount of laughter that can be wrestled from the audience, one highlight in particular being the selection of potential murder weapons, which gets a certain character into a bit of a pickle.
The gags whizz past furiously, with hallucinations of a dancing cats jostling up against a repeated joke of an actor wanting her moment in the spotlight to impress a visiting agent. Even if you happen to be familiar with the original House On Haunted Hill, it’s very unlikely that you’ll see what’s coming next at any given moment.
House On Haunted Hill is breathlessly fast moving, very funny, unashamedly stupid – and very much what your fringe experience should be made of.