DVD Review: The Haunted Mansion
by R.J. Carter
Published: April 25, 2004
Running time: 88 minutes + extras.
Jim Evers (Murphy) is a real estate man with a fatal flaw--he loves his work too much. It makes him miss Little League games, recitals, and even makes him late for his own anniversary.
So to make up for all the time he's lost, he decides to take his wife, son, and daughter camping on the lake for a weekend. And then the call comes in.
Someone wants Sarah Evers (Thomason)--Jim's wife and partner in real estate--to represent a house: the Gracey Mansion. But they only want Sarah, and they want her this Saturday. She's about to turn it down, but Jim convinces her that they could run by and do it on the way to the lake. Twenty minutes, tops.
Thus is the Evers family brought into the haunted Gracey Mansion, filled with ghostly servants, a creepy butler, a sweeping backyard full of zombies, and a gypsy trapped in a ball. The master of the house, (Parker), believes that Sarah is the reincarnation of his lost love, Elizabeth, who seemingly took her own life hundreds of years ago on the night they were to have been married, an act which cursed all within the house to dwell there forever until the curse could be lifted. Ramsley the Butler (Stamp) is doing all he can to see this new union happen (as well he should) including keeping the rest of the family separated and endangered until Sarah can join Master Gracie in eternal matrimony.
While not near the caliber of Disney's previous ride-themed movie, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion still delivers some eye-popping special effects and maintains the family-friendly aura despite the moss-encrusted skeletal zombies that pop up occassionally to say "Hello." Edge-of-your-seat excitement tastefully blended with Eddie Murphy comedic delivery.
The DVD bonus features include a behind-the-scenes special revealing the secrets of making The Haunted Mansion and how the filmmakers did their best to translate the ride into a movie. Rob Minkoff, Rick Baker and others are interviewed about the ride, making and designing zombies (a technique that involves finding very thin actors and sending them to Zombie School.)
Viewers get to see how the visually stunning graveyard scene was put together--how they made all those ghosts interact with each other. Or you can go exploring the Haunted Mansion via your remote control, with help from your ghostly guides, Ezra and Emma (Wallace Shawn and Dina Spybey.)
There's only one deleted scene to select from, some outtakes under another option, as well as a music video, "Superstition," performed by Raven Simone and other extras you can access via the DVD-ROM drive of your computer.
Sneak Peeks included on this DVD are:
Aladdin, coming to DVD.
The Incredibles, coming to theaters.
Ghosts of the Abyss, coming to DVD.
Ella Enchanted, in theaters.
The Haunted Mansion video game.
W.i.t.C.h. book series.
My Wife & Kids television series.
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror theme ride.
DVD reviews at The Trades contain clickable graphics which will take you directly to the item's Amazon.com page. These referrals help us to continue bringing you quality entertainment news and reviews.