The Haunted House (1921)

TOMATOMETER

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

While this isn't one of Buster Keaton's best two-reelers, it has some undeniably classic moments. Keaton plays a young bank teller who isn't immune to a pretty girl begging him for an early withdrawal. Sighing, he goes to the safe's clock and turns the hand an hour ahead so the door will spring open. Behind the scenes, there is scheming afoot; the cashier (big Joe Roberts) is part of a ring of counterfeiters who have fixed up a mansion to appear haunted in order to throw off the police. Their finest trick among the trap doors and secret passageways is a staircase that becomes a flat ramp when a cord is pulled, causing anyone climbing it to slide to the bottom. Back at the bank, Keaton has some trouble with a bottle of glue that causes all the money he touches to stick to him. This is also trouble for a group of bank robbers who try to hold him up. To throw the cops off his scent once again, the cashier makes it appear that Buster is the robber, and he has to run away. Keaton eventually makes his way over to the mansion, where the staircase proves to be his nemesis. Nevertheless, he manages to capture the counterfeiters, although he is knocked cold in the process. While he is unconscious and being held tenderly by the bank president's daughter (the small but always aristocratic Virginia Fox), he has a dream: He is climbing the long steps to heaven where he faces Saint Peter. Keaton is refused admission, and the saint pulls a cord. The steps flatten out and Buster slides down until he reaches hell. Fortunately, he wakes up to find himself face to face with the girl, not the devil.
Rating:
NR
Genre:
Comedy , Horror
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
Runtime:
Studio:
Metro Pictures

Cast

Buster Keaton
as Bank Clerk
Joe Roberts
as Bank Cashier
Virginia Fox
as Bank President's Daughter
Edward F. Cline
as Customer

Critic Reviews for The Haunted House

There are no critic reviews yet for The Haunted House. Keep checking Rotten Tomatoes for updates!

Audience Reviews for The Haunted House

While the typical Keaton fair we're used to, I was disappointed the titled haunted house was not well utilized at all. Too much bank shenanigans, not enough ghost nuttiness.

Robert Iwataki
Robert Iwataki
½

"The Haunted House" is 20 Minutes in length and offers a fun and crazy house that is "haunted" by various people dressed up as ghosts, a bat, skeletons, and even the devil. The film is a hilarious look into the house and Buster discovering that the ghouls within are just ordinary men and then begins to control the situation and even use the folding staircase to his advantage! The film offers all kinds of hilarious moments but ultimately pinnacles in the dream sequence near the end when he ascends the stairway to heaven only for God to deny him and pull a lever making the stairs fold down (like the previous staircase in the haunted house) and he descends down a hole and a slide into hell! It's probably the most hilarious depiction of something horrific that I have ever seen! The film is also color tinted and the inside of the house is a sepia tone and outside generally is in a blue tint adding another layer to the already impressive set pieces and editing Buster employed throughout. Make sure to look for spot on editing when the skeleton men assemble a man from pieces with glue and he subs a real man in it's place nearly seamless! This is definitely an underrated short of Keaton's but is one of the most fun!

Chris Browning
Chris Browning

Super Reviewer

½

The glue sequence goes on far too long and the brief nod to "Faust" is puzzling (foreshadowing the ending, I guess), but you won't forget the trick staircase, the man "assembled" from multiple body parts (quite a good effect for 1921) and the imagined trip to Heaven and Hell.

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

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