For some strange reason we've been covering the hell out of a movie called Return to House on Haunted Hill. Sure, we'll write up little pieces about direct-to-video sequels whenever they're interesting or amusing, but there's something a little extra-special about this particular DTV title -- and I'm sure you've already read about it by now. Through the magic of DVD technology, RTHOHH will be the world's first 'choose your own path' horror movie. (I was going to say 'choose your own adventure' but out of respect for the silly little book series that I devoured as a kid ... I went with 'path'.)

Joel Silver has been hyping this "revolutionary" video release for the last several months, and now we finally have a look at some footage. Bloody-Disgusting.com is linking to the apparently-YouTube-exclusive first trailer for Return, so click right here to get a peek at that clip. (They also give you access to a Quicktime version, which is always nice.) Aside from the multi-multi-branching option, the movie looks to be just another haunted house romp, only with a generous dose of gore because that's what horror flicks are (mostly) like these days.

But as the trailer spun, I noticed something a little strange: The words "exclusive to HD" (or something) ran across the screen as the announcer was describing the 'pick the options you want' feature. So now it's time to do a little digging...

First stop, Amazon.com: There you'll find four listings for Return to House on Haunted Hill: The HD-DVD (81 minutes), the Blu-Ray DVD (81m) and two regular DVDs, one at 81m and another at 79m -- which tells me that the "normal" DVD will also be available in an R-rated version, as if anyone would want that. No info on if the 'branching story" option is indeed exclusive to the next-gen DVD players. Then a Google search led me to this press release, and that's where the news was confirmed: Apparently this whole "multi-story" option was just a shameless ploy to get you to buy an HD or Blu-Ray DVD player. The regular DVD releases will offer the linear story only, plus some featurettes and such.

LAME!