When Important Scenes are made Generic and Pointless, and Symbolic moments left out in the film. Whenever the executive changes the Tone of the film, where the plot is left dumbed-down. That is the Time when Adaptations are Present, Practicing their Terror with Ghoulish Delight.
It’s pretty much common knowledge that Adaptations are pretty much everywhere within the creative media. They are nothing new and will still be coming throughout the existence of Time. One of the more unique adaptations that have come out recently is for Theme Park Rides. Most of them are for Disney Rides, probably because they have some form of a plot to them.
Which leads me into the topic of today’s review, The Haunted Mansion.
The Haunted Mansion is my favorite creation in all of the Parks with the name Disney on it. I grew up mostly loving the rather Dark & Scary things rather than the usual Transforming robots or G.I. Joe stuff that everyone liked. So it was pretty obvious that this Ride was perfect for me. It always had that Mysterious Atmosphere to it on the outside and had the Mild Foreboding and Dark filled Joys that I enjoyed every time I rode it.
When news came of a Film Adaptation of the ride, I was ecstatic! I was so eager to find out what they would do for their one of my all-time favorite parts of my Childhood.
So, like the Foolish Mortal I was, I went to see the film…Unfortunately not knowing what was soon to follow…
So today, I’m going to do something different on this blog. I’m going to look at something from Disney and try to reflect on my past experience with this film that I loathed in my younger years…I can tell already this is going to be “Fun”.
Jim Evers (Eddie Murphy) and his wife Sarah are a duo team of Real Estate Agnets. After missing his Anniversary by selling a couple’s house, Jim tries to make it up to them by taking her and their kids to “the Lake” this weekend for a Family Vacation as a means to make up with his wife. Minutes Later, Sarah receives a business call about someone who wants to sell their House and with Jim being the man who puts his work before his family, they decide to go before heading out to the lake, and what could possibly be the house that they go to?
Well, it’s none other than the biggest chunk of my childhood memories, the Gracey Manor.
When they arrive at the house, A storm soon arrives and they decide to go inside where they are then greeted by the butler of the estate, Ramsley (Terrence Stamp) as well as the Owner Edward Gracey (Nathaniel Parker). Shortly after entering the House, the Storm flooded the Road and leaves the Family stuck in the house for the night. Gracey then lets them stay in his home for the night, but “Mysterious” (I use this term extremely Loosely) things go about the Hallowed Halls of the Melancholic Estate as the night progresses.
So where do I begin with this movie?…Well I start with the most obvious. The Film plays itself as a Family Comedy Movie. The Film’s jokes in it are obviously aimed for the Younger Audiences and it’s obvious that they all will fail at even trying to get a chuckle out of anyone…and that was one of the bigger disappointments with Eddie Murphy.
His earlier stuff was great. I love Beverly Hills Cop, Trading Places, and 48 Hours as well as his SNL stuff, but a lot of the films he’s doing recently have been a really waste of his talents and this was definitely one of them. With all the Family-Friendly jokes and, he definitely felt like just filling in an empty role in the film.
With them making the film into the Family Friendly territory, it was obvious what else was butchered in the process…The Scare factor. Now, I’ll admit that the Ride itself would most likely not scare anyone aside from some Minors, but it still would give you some chills from the Atmosphere that the ride builds as you ascend through the ride. (This was one of my personal favorite parts of the ride.) The Film doesn’t really try to give the slightest bit of Terror that wouldn’t scare anything outside of the Audience they film was unintentionally dumbed down for. I mean if Disney could get away with having Nightmare Before Christmas the way it is, why couldn’t they do the same for The Haunted Mansion? (I know Disney didn’t release NBC, but they do love including it in a lot of their stuff. Mainly the Kingdom Hearts games as well as the Haunted Mansion Holiday.)
One of the more important things with making any Haunted House film is the look of the setting itself. Thankfully, this was one of the better aspects of the film since they actually got the Look of the Mansion done very well. It actually looks like very similar to the Original Ride and if the film was done well enough, it would have definitely have the same feeling to it as well.
One of the biggest things I’ve noticed, as well as any other Mansion fan would (or anyone whoâ€™s been on the ride), throughout the film is that this film is just filled with References and set pieces that were from the ride. I know that they needed to throw it in so it can be just like the original mansion but they use so much of it, It honestly feels like Fan-Pandering. I mean you have the Changing Portraits, the Busts that follow you, the Singing Busts, lines of dialogue from the ride, and all of the ghosts from the Ballroom and the Graveyard together. You even get a scene where Two of the Hitch-Hiking Ghosts, Phineas and Gus, talk to Eddie Murphy in the movie but the scene was just pointless and lame. (It’s a waste of the Mascots for the Ride, which probably made this movie feel worse for me.)
…I think I forgot to mention the subplot.
In the very beginning of the film, Edward Gracey is attending a Masquerade Ball held within his Mansion and there he planned a surprise engagement there for his love, Elizabeth. Unfortunately for him, She dies at the party due to Suicide via poison and he hangs himself from a tower in the mansion.
Does that sound Familiar?
Anyways, this somehow brings a curse upon the house where all of the spirits are stuck in the Mansion and can’t Pass on into the Afterlife. (I Have No Idea how that works.) Eventually, Jim and his kids find out that the main reason Gracey invited the Evers to the Mansion was the fact that he believes he is Elizabeth reborn and wants her to be him again.
Well, the sub-plot of the film pretty much takes up the majority of the Second half of the film and it really didn’t need to be worked into the film and it left me reminded of that terrible remake of The Haunting.
….I guess I still have to mention the characters…I’ve said my Two Cents on Eddie Murphy, so I move to the Others. Sarah Evers was pretty much a pointless character who did nothing but talk to Mr. Gracey. The Kids took up the majority of the Screen time, Even more so than Eddie who gets top billings. They, much like Sarah, are very pointless and boring characters. We also get Madam Leota.
I will admit that Jennifer Tilly does give one of the few decent performances in the film playing Leota. There’s also General Zod as Ramsley….I have no Idea how they got him on board for this but it does seem rather…
Speaking of things being Inconceivable, we also oddly get Wallace Shawn in this. I don’t know why he’s there but I still enjoyed him. This is Probably only because I’m a bit of a fan. Plus there’s a Maid in this who was a little bit Over-the-top at times, but it was another pointless role anyways. Gracey was just Ok considering he didn’t really do much in the film aside give some Exposition in the scenes.
Well, with this movie taking place in a house full of Ghosts, I have to talk about the film’s Special Effects. To sum it up, The Film is FULL of Effects. The Roof of the Mansion is CGI, along with all of the Ghosts as well as the smoke within Leota’s Orb. Basically, the film is either done with some Practical effects or CGI. The CGI in this looked a bit bad, but I can’t complain too much since it was still 2004. The Particle effects were most for the Zombie battle (Yes…the Film has a Zombie Battle) in the Mausoleum. The Zombies were done by the Awesome Make Up Artist Rick Baker. So there’s another positive part of the film. Even though the scene itself was pointless.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I. HATE. THIS. MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This was just a Gigantic Waste of Film. It wasn’t Scary, Funny, or Entertaining at All. Especially to the Haunted Mansion Fans who were probably just as mad as I am. All it was is just one big Irritating Waste of My Time!
Thankfully the Film is getting a Reboot by one of my favorite Directors: Guillermo Del Toro. Although the film may not have a release date yet, I eager await to see what he has in store for it considering he seems really eager on this Project.