The Haunted Mansion
Review By: Gringo

When hinges creak in doorless chambers, and strange and frightening sounds echo through the halls…whenever candle lights flicker where the air is deathly still…that is the time when ghosts are present, practising their terror with ghoulish delight…

…beware, foolish mortals, because the spectre of Eddie Murphy’s good career moves lurks in the dark, ready to remind you with ghostly traces of Trading Places in the shadows of the nightmarish Daddy Day Care

But something strange has happened. This must be a séance, because after watching The Haunted Mansion I’ve seen the grim gurning ghost of good Eddie Murphy make something of a return. Spooky!

So Disney decided a while ago to try making movies out of its most popular rides. For some reason, they thought the Country Bears attraction should be on that list, even though I’m not aware anyone, ever, enjoys the ride. Ah well, that movie sank without a trace, leaving us this effort and Pirates of the Caribbean.

That swashbuckling movie was rather good, although it had a few negative elements (mostly Orlando Bloom, who has yet to provide any evidence that he is not an insufferable, egotistical prick, and the fact Keira Knightley may be incredibly attractive but has an emotional acting range limited to playing a golly-gosh chipper Brit), but anyway Joe reviewed it, so enough said. And yes, that was a long bit of parenthesising! Now shut up, Fats Domino.

But what about The Haunted Mansion? It’s based on the building of the same name, which is always a special place to visit, no matter what Disney theme park you frequent, from Anaheim to Orlando, Paris to Tokyo. Wait…do they have ghosts in Japan? Who knows?

My favourite part of the ride is the guy or girl you meet at the entrance to the mansion that performs in the role of Stereotypical Generic Evil Haunted Mansion Butler. It’s clearly a failed actor -- regardless of the country you’re in -- who overdoes the MWAH-HA-HA! evil routine so much that what you’re scared of is the person getting anywhere near your genitals.

It’s always amusing to see people try and get a reaction out of the butler character by hurling abuse at them, taking photos of them and the like, mostly because their response is to glare menacingly. It’s like the Royal guards in London -- people can pretty much do anything, because what’s the worst the Disney guy can do? Stamp his feet on the ground like a petulant child and sob uncontrollably? Here’s hoping!

To bring things effortlessly back to the point, in The Haunted Mansion, Terence Stamp plays the role of the creepy potentially-already-dead butler. Okay, so he’s not a failed actor, but you’re fat and you don’t hear me complaining, do you? Good!

Unfortunately for Mr. Stamp, he has to put up with Eddie Murphy, his wife and two Disney children fresh out of the Disney Movie Magic Children Farm. These forgettable tykes will no doubt look back on their days involved with this movie with joy. Unless, of course, they become like every other child actor and descend into self-doubt and hate their own body. One day we may find little Loshonda (or whatever is the name of the girl playing Murphy’s daughter) slumped on the bathroom floor, fresh from throwing up her lunch into the toilet, as she shivers and clutches a picture of her taken in her prime, sobbing as she whispers the words “I’m…so…beautiful” to herself until she passes out.

But for now, the children in this particular Disney movie are thankfully not irritating and mercifully written with a smidgen of intelligence. Just a smidgen, mind you! These kids tag along as Eddie Murphy’s character (a realtor) somehow winds up exploring the Haunted Mansion in question.

Seems there is some murky back-story to the building. Something about forbidden love, broken hearts, haunting and all that boozabba. I wish I could care enough to summarise the movie, but really, I can’t. If it’s a synopsis you’ve come to this site for, go fuck yourself. Yeah. I am mature.

So why doesn’t this movie suck? Well, they actually preserved some decent elements of the ride, including the mysterious woman with the green face in the crystal ball that forecasts doom and gloom, the creepy haunted house and its grim grinning ghosts and keeping it just long enough that you enjoy it but short enough that you’re not looking for the exit.

Also a major plus is the fact that Eddie Murphy doesn’t seem to be just doing this for the big fat paycheque (though it’s fairly likely he probably was just doing this for the $$$). There’s something about his performance here that, like Bowfinger, shows that not everything he touches turns to suck. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Now how’s about a Beverley Hills Cop IV to correct the mistakes of number three in that series? And while you’re at it, bring back the fat cop with the moustache. Hector Elizondo may be a nice guy, but HE’S NO FAT COP, YOU HEAR?!

By the way, if Disney is looking for the next ride to convert into a movie, here’s a suggestion: make a movie out of Main Street USA. You could made the lead character someone who thinks they’re the greatest person in the world, but ends up caught in never-ending series of increasingly expensive stores and restaurants, with no way out. A ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha…

Shut up.


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