I LOVE this movie! It’s not just one of my favourite horror movies, it’s one of my favourite movies ever. To set the record straight, I am talking about the 1963 version. The 1999 remake was an utter pile of shit!
The original movie was masterfully directed by Robert Wise, known for things like The Sound of Music and Star Trek: The Motion Picture; three very different genres, but his Haunting is not only a chilling movie but it’s so well made.
Based on the book by Shirley Jackson, it stars Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Jonson and Russ Tamblyn. The story is nice and simple:
Hill House has stood for about 90 years and appears haunted: its inhabitants have always met strange, tragic ends. Now Dr. John Markway has assembled a team of people who he thinks will prove whether or not the house is haunted.
As the night comes, things start to happen in the house and it seems to call Eleanor, played by Julie Harris. Harris is amazing in this movie, she is the focal point and she carries it so well. You can see the conflict going on with her, she has had the self-confidence stomped out of her and she finally has a chance to break free, only to find another form of oppression.
There is no ‘monster’ in the house. There are strange happenings, banging on the walls, cold spots, odd voices. I do like a good monster, but in this, it’s the house that is the focus of horror.
Throughout the entire movie, there isn’t really any special effects, the horror is done through the noises and the actors, there is very little music over the scary parts. All of the actors in this are amazing, they are so believable and you feel their goosebumps.
Personally, I think this movie has more atmosphere more than any other movie I’ve seen. It is a close call with The Exorcist, but I always felt that the Exorcist is an obvious horror, which I know sounds stupid, but you expect it to be scary, it’s about a possession and it is very scary.
The Haunting is a much more subtle movie, the atmosphere it builds is wonderful, chilling and gives me the creeps every time I watch it. It’s a must-see for me over Halloween, with the lights out, headphones on and no distractions and soak up this great horror movie.