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The Haunting [VHS] [1963]


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Product details

  • Actors: Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn, Fay Compton
  • Directors: Robert Wise
  • Writers: Nelson Gidding, Shirley Jackson
  • Producers: Robert Wise, Denis Johnson
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Warner
  • VHS Release Date: 14 Aug 1995
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CQUP
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 235,282 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Classic haunted house horror, directed by Robert Wise and starring Claire Bloom and Julie Harris. An anthropologist foolishly starts to investigate a haunted house and gets sucked into the terrifying world of the paranormal.

From Amazon.co.uk

Certain to remain one of the greatest haunted-house movies ever made, Robert Wise's The Haunting (1963) is antithetical to all the gory horror films of subsequent decades, because its considerable frights remain implicitly rooted in the viewer's sensitivity to abject fear. A classic spook-fest based on Shirley Jackson's novel The Haunting of Hill House (which also inspired the 1999 remake directed by Jan de Bont), the film begins with a prologue that concisely establishes the dark history of Hill House, a massive New England mansion (actually filmed in England) that will play host to four daring guests determined to investigate--and hopefully debunk--the legacy of death and ghostly possession that has given the mansion its terrifying reputation.

Consumed by guilt and grief over her mother's recent death and driven to adventure by her belief in the supernatural, Eleanor Vance (Julie Harris) is the most unstable--and therefore the most vulnerable--visitor to Hill House. She's invited there by anthropologist Dr. Markway (Richard Johnson), along with the bohemian lesbian Theodora (Claire Bloom), who has acute extra-sensory abilities, and glib playboy Luke Sanderson (Russ Tamblyn, from Wise's West Side Story), who will gladly inherit Hill House if it proves to be hospitable. Of course, the shadowy mansion is anything but welcoming to its unwanted intruders. Strange noises, from muffled wails to deafening pounding, set the stage for even scarier occurrences, including a door that appears to breathe (with a slowly turning doorknob that's almost unbearably suspenseful), unexplained writing on walls, and a delicate spiral staircase that seems to have a life of its own.

The genius of The Haunting lies in the restraint of Wise and screenwriter Nelson Gidding, who elicit almost all of the film's mounting terror from the psychology of its characters--particularly Eleanor, whose grip on sanity grows increasingly tenuous. The presence of lurking spirits relies heavily on the power of suggestion (likewise the cautious handling of Theodora's attraction to Eleanor) and the film's use of sound is more terrifying than anything Wise could have shown with his camera. Like Jack Clayton's 1961 chiller, The Innocents, The Haunting knows the value of planting the seeds of terror in the mind, as opposed to letting them blossom graphically on the screen. What you don't see is infinitely more frightening than what you do, and with nary a severed head or bloody corpse in sight, The Haunting is guaranteed to chill you to the bone. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mr Lumpy on 29 Dec 2010
Format: DVD
Although dated in may ways this offering from Robert Wise is a perfectly constructed gothic horror movie. Making allowances for the lack of modern special effects the film is an early take on the idea of the haunted house as a character in the story. Wise and writer Gidding base the story around the interaction of the four main characters and the horror is very much about suggestion. As Wise says in the commentary, the film is really about one woman's descent into mental illness, rather than a haunted house story. Hints of future Horror classics such as Evil Dead and Blair Witch Project are obvious in the narrative structure and characterisation, yet Wise and Gidding don't give in to the more obvious horror movie histrionics we would find a mere ten years later in movies such as The Exorcist.

The commentary is well worth a listen, particularly for the thoughts and anecdotes of Richard Johnson, who plays Dr Markway, (apparently considered for the part of the first James Bond!) and the insights into Julie Harris' state of mind and relationship with the rest of the cast during the making of the film. Presently being sold for £2.79 on Amazon, you just can't go wrong. An absolute classic.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Willow on 19 Nov 2009
Format: DVD
You know, if you look at the horror genre today (because horror is what it is all about; in bucket loads) there seems to be something missing. When was the last time you were truly scared whilst watching a movie? Screen writers today, seem to concentrate far too much on CGI and tidal waves of blood and guts to cover for a poor and shallow script performed by equally poor actors. Nobody seems to know anymore how to put a good shocker together. Gone are the genuine scares, to be replaced by instantly forgettable, shallow scripted nonsense.

I have always held true, it is not what you see on screen, it is what you do not see, that generates the shocks. This technique is put to excellent use in The Haunting of Hill House, to give it its original title. The unseen menace that haunts this Gothic mansion, is atmospherically played out with minimum effects, other than sound and lighting used to perfection.

The mental state of Eleanor, played quite brilliantly by Julie Harris, is laid bare and brought it to question quite early in the movie and escalates in to full blown hysteria toward the end. What starts as a paranormal investigation, soon spirals into terror for Eleanor, as she is singled out by the entity, who is hell bent on claiming her soul.

A great movie and well worth the meagre asking price.
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77 of 85 people found the following review helpful By cardinaluk@hotmail.com on 25 Dec 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Modern horror film today relies upon computer graphics, copius amounts of cursing and beautiful actors and actresses pretending to be talented.
Directors and producers should take heed from the imagination and uniquity that was shown in the amateur flick "The Blair Witch Project" which, despite a 6th form college Media Studies A-Level type ending, and annoying american actors was a highly engrossing film.
What Blair Witch Project got right was the rule that you should never show the evil doer throughout the film. Evil Dead 1-3, Blair Witch and other now noticeably cult films used this technique.
And so did the director of "The Haunting".
This film is an intriguing analysis of a disturbed woman from an uncaring background, haunted by her mother who fell ill and was bed-ridden. The daughter had to look after her for a long time, suffering from depression and stress until one night her mother banged on the wall and she just ignored her. The mother died and the daughter blames herself. She decides all of a sudden to join a team of people that are going to spend a few days in a house on a hill. (Hill House). The team is made up of paranormal enthusiasts, a sensitive, and the young heir to the house.
The mixture of people really decides the amount of tension between the characters, let alone the ghosts! The sensitive senses the main characters psychological problems which stem from her poor background. Small conflicts happen between them throughout the film until the sheer terror presented to them by this evil, dark, twisted house ultimately unites all the characters.
The House begins to mock the disturbed woman who begins to lose her mind, very much like Jack Nicholson in "The Shining".
Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Adrian Drew TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 Nov 2013
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Although not as sharp as I remember the original print to be, this new blu ray delivers a more than acceptable image, the gray scale is fine, and the sound is solid, if unremarkable, too. Shot in England, rather than New England where the film/novel is set, the strange opening shots of the car driving through the "American" countryside (Kent?) don't ring true at all, with some very ordinary British houses standing in for their colonial counterparts! However, once the old dark house is entered, ( a more convincing venue) things take off quite nicely. Some splendid acting, (Harris and Bloom are particularly effective) and a good script, deliver well and with a slow-burn sophistication generally missing from this genre - although the film never truly generates the true terror required and many of the "shock" moments are curiously "mishandled" or more likely sacrificed to the creation of the "poetry" that permeates the look and feel of this extraordinary film - and Shirly Jackson's famous novel. That said, along with "The Innocents" it still remains one of the great "haunted house" movies (way superior to the ludicrously over the top re/make) and it will certainly please many fans to have this upgraded transfer. However younger, or new viewers, be aware this film is very different to contemporary horror movies - it's as much about character and "repression" as it is about ghosts and hauntings - and it's very "slow" too - so do not expect a traditional "thriller" or rollercoaster ride - or you could be very disappointed.
It's also deliberately shot in black and white too.... The perfect medium for some people like me ... But not others!
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