Saturday, October 26, 2013

October Scares Movie: The Haunting

Claire Bloom & Julie Harris
We conclude our fright fest for this year with a brief look at a very eerie house. The Haunting (1963) is widely regarded by fans and critics as one of the best horror films of all time. Dr. John Markway (Richard Johnson) heads a group of people who are going to investigate unusual activity in a mansion called Hill House. It’s a supposedly haunted dwelling where unexplained events & several mysterious deaths have occurred. The others in the group are: Theodora (Claire Bloom), a psychic; Luke (Russ Tamblyn), a member of the family that currently owns the house, and the meek, sensitive Eleanor. As the quartet settles in, strange things begin to happen; doors seem to move by themselves, there are odd noises & ghostly apparitions. Most of the paranormal events affect Eleanor. Her delicate psyche appears to the target of the forces in the house, and the ghostly presence seems to focus on events in her own life. What's the real secret of Hill House? Will the house possess Eleanor, and consume her mind & soul?

The movie is based on the Shirley Jackson novel, The Haunting of Hill House. Director Robert Wise previously worked with iconic horror producer Val Lewton, and that influence is strongly felt here. It’s a visually interesting film; the horror is suggested rather than shown outright. What you don't see scares you a lot more than what you do see. The actors are all excellent in their roles, but Julie Harris is a particular standout as Eleanor, whose fractured mind may reflect the ominous events occurring in the house. It’s a movie that works well as a psychological thriller, in addition to being a terrifying ghost story. Long a favorite of famous fans like Stephen King and Martin Scorsese, The Haunting is a classic tale of terror. The movie would be perfect viewing for Halloween or a cold winter’s night. The Haunting has just been released on Blu-ray and features a commentary by members of the cast & crew that was ported over from a previous DVD release. Here's a link to the trailer for The Haunting

Silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.” - From the novel by Shirley Jackson

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