The House on Haunted Hill – a true rarity
Original movie posters for The House on Haunted Hill have always been highly sought after but Australian movie posters are incredibly scarce. The classic Vincent Price film was released in 1959 and the Paramount daybill is a striking example of Richardson Studio art. You would expect Australian posters from this era to turn up occasionally but there seems to be only a handful known to exist.
Many Australian posters came from the collections of people who worked in cinemas or for distributors. One of the biggest and most significant collections of Australian movie posters surfaced about seven years ago. The owner of the collection worked for the distributor and was in charge of distributing posters to owners of cinemas around Australia. He was apparently quite miserly with the posters and a little cantankerous with his customers and kept an eagle eye on everything. He would only supply the exact amount of posters that had been ordered and paid for and never gave anything away or added any "freebies" to the order.
After the films had finished screening, the surplus posters were supposed to be destroyed or shelved for a period of time. However, he was also a hoarder and one of the earliest collectors of movie posters and he salted away many thousands of posters, press books, lobby cards and movie memorabilia into his own collection.
His collection included original US, Australian and international posters from the 30s to the 80s with many major titles amongst them. They were all stored under his house in Queensland in an absolutely massive collection. After he passed away, a friend was appointed as executor and the posters were sold off in lots to various collectors at the discretion of the executor. Many dealers had no idea that the collection was being auctioned.
The story goes that he wasn't a big fan of House on Haunted Hill and he stored a large bundle of the daybills and one sheets under the counter and used them as wrapping paper to send orders out. Consequently, the surplus daybills and one sheets were pretty much destroyed. I have often come across posters that were heavily folded with labels and postage stamps on the back where they would have been used as wrapping for orders from cinema owners.
Although he didnt save House on Haunted Hill, we can be thankful that he managed to salvage many thousands of posters and lobby cards that would have been otherwise destined for the junkyard.
Over the years, I know of only a single copy of an Australian one sheet appearing and that was laminated. The daybill is also very rare with just a few known copies in private collections. A couple of heavily censored daybills printed for the New Zealand release have surfaced over the years but the blacked out areas on the posters makes them considerably less desirable.
House on Haunted Hill is a 1959 American horror film directed by William Castle. The film was written by Robb White and stars Vincent Price and Carol Ohmart