Flashback Review: The Haunted Mansion

In 1969, three years after the death of Walt Disney or from a certain point of view of a conspiracy theorist, cryogenically frozen, Disneyland opened a new attraction called, “The Haunted Mansion.” A dark ride that lets attendees participate in a voyage by entering the mansion filled with ghosts, creepy imagery, among other mysteries surrounding the mansion’s history. The Haunted Mansion went on to become one of Disneyland’s most popular attractions connected to “The New Orleans Square Area” located in the official Disneyland map, along with Pirates Of The Caribbean & Disneyland Railroad.

After The Disney Channel adapted The Tower Of Terror, Walt Disney Pictures begin pre-production based on Disneyland two attractions starting with The Country Bears released in 2002. It turned out to be a miscalculation. In July, 2003, Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl earned critical and financial success earning Johnny Depp an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow.

Four Months Later, The Haunted Mansion was released during Thanksgiving month around the same time as Elf and that god awful Cat In The Hat film. Unlike The Curse Of The Black Pearl, The Haunted Mansion earned negative reviews from critics. Despite poor reception, the film managed to make money at the box office.

In 2010, Guillermo Del Toro announced that he was working on a faithful retelling of The Haunted Mansion with storyline focusing on The Hatbox Ghost. Unfortunately, he dropped out, because he was busy producing The Hobbit Trilogy, directing Pacific Rim, adapting his vampire trilogy, The Strain on FX & directed The Shape Of Water which earned him an Oscar for Best Director & Best Picture. Maybe the producers of the 2017 version of It might take over Guillermo’s place. They’re working on a remake of Pet Sematary, perhaps The Haunted Mansion could work.

The following review lists a truckload crucial SPOILERS. If you’ve never seen this movie, read at your own risk. I’ll do my best not to steal Doug Walker/Nostalgia Critic & Erod/The Blockbuster Buster’s review of The Haunted Mansion.

Scary & Unscary Aspects

Scary: Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Tilly & Wallace Shawn all did an adequate job for their performances.

Production Designers retained several Set Pieces from the ride.

Oscar winning Make-Up Artist, Rick Baker (An American Werewolf In London, Men In Black, The Nutty Professor & Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video) applied Prosthetic Make-Up for the extras to resemble skeletons.

At first, The Opening Credits felt promising with a voiceover saying “Welcome foolish mortals.” A nod to guests entering the ride & a prologue setting up the story.

The film made a reference to knockers (the ones attached to the door) from Young Frankenstein. I thought it was pretty funny.

A blue floating ball predates “Wisps” from Pixar’s Brave.

A character is named Elizabeth. Coincidentally, Keira Knightley’s character Elizabeth Swann, from Pirates Of The Caribbean, also originated from a Disneyland attraction.

At the 0:41:35 mark, you can pause your TV with your remote, a Mickey Mouse logo is displayed. Disney is known for using “Hidden Mickey” logos as Easter Eggs.

Gracey & Elizabeth are dressed in blue & yellow. A reference to Disney’s Beauty & The Beast. Seeing them in both outfits in live action format, foreshadows the 2017 remake.

Unscary: The film lacked a legitimate “Scare Factor” and a sense of going on a spooky voyage.

Not a single joke except the knockers bit from Young Frankenstein, didn’t make me smirk.

Marsha Thomason did a terrible job for her performance as Sara Evers. Is her acting technique from Hayden Christensen instead of Lee Strasberg?

Terrence Stamp’s voice sounded like he ate Shaun The Sheep. Did anybody crack up or couldn’t keep a straight face on set? His performance felt like nails on a chalkboard.

Rob Minkoff (The Lion King, Stuart Little, Mr. Peabody & Sherman) did a horrible job for directing the film.

C.G.I. is conspicuously fake. Examples such as an obvious blue screen, flying instruments, Eddie Murphy lookin’ at a mirror, seeing himself as decaying zombie. Ghosts glowing in a blue aura & spiders. So the guy who made Eddie Murphy fat, didn’t apply make-up to resemble a zombie. What a shame!

A Plot Hole involving two ghosts (one of them played by Wallace Shawn) didn’t helped The Evers Family to retrieve the key. They just brushed them off without any assistance whatsoever.

Another Plot Hole involving Madame Leota & The Singing Statues’s spirits didn’t go to heaven. Maybe God decided to punish both Eddie & Jennifer by sparing the statues after watching Pluto Nash & Daddy Day Care & make Jennifer reprise her role as Chucky’s bride Tiffany in Seed Of Chucky.

Eddie Murphy’s character, Jim Evers, is a borderline workaholic. His wife mentioned he skipped three soccer games, two birthday parties & barbecue in favor of selling houses for customers. To put salt in the wound, he skipped his wedding anniversary in order to sell a house! This cliche has been overused in many family films including Hook, Ghost Dad, The Santa Clause, Jingle All The Way, Flubber, The Shaggy Dog, Evan Almighty & shockingly, Jurassic World.

Jim somehow managed to fight his way through armored knights guarding his kids. You think Rey from the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy is overpowered, get a load of Eddie Murphy dodging obstacles like he’s a Jedi Knight! Perhaps a doctor performed a blood transfusion containing Anakin’s midi-chlorions. It broke my Suspension Of Disbelief.

Jim’s daughter Meg, didn’t gasp upon witnessing a floating blue ball. Billy (from The Grim Adventures Of Billy & Mandy) has more range of emotions based on his fear of spiders!

I understand Eddie is trying to headline a fantasy horror comedy film, but every time I hear him scream at the top of his lungs, I can already picture Donkey from Shrek fleeing from a fire breathing dragon.

The Sixth Sense’s signature quote, “I see dead people,” was butchered as a stupid visual pun. Sora (Haley Joel Osmet) from Kingdom Hearts delivered it better without ghosts appearing behind Bruce Willis!

Mike overcoming his fear of spiders to rescue his dad and sister is sorta a rip-off of Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom. The part when Willie is forced to recuse Indy & Short Round from being slowly crushed to death while overcoming her fear of insects.

After Jim gets tossed out by Ramsley, how the heck did Madame Leota exit the mansion without assistance? Did she pay Goku (from Dragon Ball Z) to teleport her outside the mansion?

Ramsley stole Charlton Heston’s infamous “Damn you all to hell” line from the original Planet Of The Apes. Alex The Lion from Madagascar did a proper reference to the classic in some form of parody.

Ramsley’s fate is a knock-off of George Hamilton’s character, Desmond Spellman (yep, that’s his last name) from Casper Meets Wendy. He falls into a fiery dimension.

The Final Verdict: F, FOR FAKER!

The Haunted Mansion is basically described as a 90 minute fart joke. Fellas, It’s worse than Daddy Day Care & Pluto Nash combined! Do not, I repeat, do not waste your spare time on this rotten corpse! If you want to watch an actual scary haunted location, go watch American Horror Story Season 1 & 5. That’ll keep you busy from start to finish.

I hope the producers of It: Chapter 1 and its upcoming sequel can do justice or anybody who’s willing to take creative risks by giving us a faithful adaptation of Disneyland’s famous attractions. All we can do is cross our fingers.

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