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!
on 25 December 2001
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". This eventually leads to a very decent ending for a film of this sort.
The actors are quite literally superb, from the disturbed woman to the paranormal investigator who coins the excellent phrase "The worst protection against the supernatural is a closed mind"
The Ghosts are never seen. This really heightens the fear factor and makes you wait for the next chilling moment. One truly chilling moment is when the disturbed woman is lying asleep suddenly awoken by a noise. As she mulls over about what had happened during the day she grows more tense about her surroundings. The camera moves toward a very strange position, it points at the wall with moonlight shining from the right. In the background a monk-like chanting begins to grow in intensity and volume while a small childs crying can be heard under the chanting. As the moonlight begins to heighten in the sky small holes in the wall begin to shadow resembling a statanic looking face. This is *the* most evil, dark, disturbing image and sound you or anyone on this planet will *EVER* see. I assure you, this film sets precedents that will never be bettered. I'm surprised that this film did'nt win an Oscar, well actually I'm not surprised, because this film is far greater than the trash that has fouled such a impressive awards ceremony.
You must buy this film.
on 19 November 2009
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.
on 29 December 2010
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.
on 6 March 2015
The Haunting is an absolute classic!! Modern Horror film makers watch and learn. This is how you make the perfect horror film... It's of the old school setup proving that what you don't see is far scarier than what you do see, relying on suspense and atmosphere over blood and guts. The cast is perfect as well from our 2 stunning leading ladies Claire Bloom and Julie Harris to their 2 male counterparts Richard Johnson and Russ Tamblyn. As a fellow reviewer has already mentioned not only do we have the supernatural events occurring throughout the film but also the personal disintegration of Eleanor, who in her fragile state of mind is pure fodder to the spirits haunting Hill House. Truly tragic to witness but acted superbly by the awesome Ms Harris. The whole atmosphere of the film grips you and it makes me wonder whether a certain Mr Sam Raimi wasn't slightly inspired by it when he made The Evil Dead, especially with regards to the ominous sound effects used quite brilliantly in this gem. This film is pure genius. I upgraded to this Bluray from my DVD copy and I was so engrossed in the movie that I failed to notice if there was any real improvement in quality, To be frank I don't really care. The overall quality of this film says it all.... As I've already suggested.. Watch and learn..... They just don't make horror films like this anymore. Now to get The Legend Of Hell House House on bluray. Another classic in the same vein as The Haunting..............
on 9 August 2015
Almost five stars. A film that seems like it's been shot yesterday, for the tension, the editing, the effects that make it one of the best horror ever made. Probably it's not as amazingly modern and purely scary like The Innocents (made more or less around the same time) but Robert Wise is an excellent director (West Side Story, and a wonderful editor (he worked for Welles, editing Citizen Kane) and although he never became a true author, he can master cinema like few others.
He can make the house breathe and live like a real creature (only few others succeded in that, like The Fall of Usher House). Blu ray is glorious
on 25 April 2006
This has to be my favourite haunted house movie of all time. The abysmal 1999 remake only made the craftwork and subtelty of this 1963 classic even more apparent. The story seems simple enough, but it has many intricate undercurrents. Basically, a doctor with an interest in haunted houses recruits a group of people to join him in staying at Hill House - a place with the most notorious reputation for supernatural activity he has ever discovered . The small group arrive at the house with the intent of monitoring any unusual phenomena, but the events that take place affect them in ways far beyond their expectations.
The pleasure that comes from watching the film is two-fold. Firstly and most obviously, the scary thrills as the group is assailed by various ghostly manifestations are tremendously well implemented. But secondly, the more subtle effects on the minds of the four main characters is equally as skillfully woven into the proceedings, and the viewer can clearly see the ways that all four of them handle the situation, with their friendships and allegiances to each other being severely tested, culminating in some emotionally charged arguments, and one particularly tragic final outcome.
The central cast handle their characters very well, The stunning Claire Bloom effortlessy brings to life the stylish psychic Theo, and both Russ Tamblyn and Richard Johnson also acquit themsleves well. But as in the novel, it is the character of Eleanor who really carries the action of the film, and Julie Harris makes a memorable impression as this disturbed and vunerable woman. The character sketch starts with her lonely home life being pictured in the early scenes, and the film then charts her initial delight in arriving at the house and meeting people who actually take an interest in her, then her unfolding bewilderment as Hill House seemingly singles her out for attention, followed by a whole range of emotions as she struggles to understand why fate seems to have brought her to the place. The other three characters often seem at a loss to understand Eleanor, and watching them all on screen closely, you can pick out various significant signs and habits, see their distrust starting to grow, and finally watch them accusing each other of either making things up or even faking some of the supernatural events that are happening. You also have to listen closely, as several scenes have characters speaking very quickly and over the top of each other, especially during arguments, which is a realistic depiction and one that is rarely attempted in the movies, but it is pulled off superbly here.
But the beauty of this film's power is that all the supernatural activity actually happens off screen, by which I mean that 90% of the scares are produced entirely on the soundtrack. The scenes in which episodes of the "haunting" are actually happening are superbly played out, and more than make up for the lack of any visible phantoms. The other dynamic element of the film is Hill House itself. Thanks to the superb art direction and sumptuous wide-screen photography, the exterior shots show it as one of the most menacing and eerie "haunted mansions" ever seen in the cinema. Equally effective is the interior design ,with every room and angle dripping with threatening looking statues and creepy ornamentation. The house itself is really the fifth star of the movie.
To get the most out of the experience, I would advise any potential viewer to put aside expectations of "The Haunting" as being a horror movie, and approach it instead as a psychological drama. It's actually a very thought provoking film that rewards your full attention so it's not one for fans of flashy action or in-your-face effects. It's also recommended for an adult audience simply because of the sheer subtlety of it, but being quite talky in places and long on mood between actual events, to my mind makes the action set pieces even more potent. Scenes like Eleanor climbing the dangerous spiral staircase, or the most famous sequence of the film, in which Eleanor and Theo are terrorised in bed by an unseen "something" making a racket in the corridor outside, are gripping and memorable, and probably work all the better after the time taken to establish the various dynamics of the four lead characters. There is so much between the lines in the script, I can't address many of the subtler issues, but having read the book as well, it's easy to read the events of the film on more than just one level, and it succeeds as both a very frightening haunted house thriller, and as a psychological character study. Definitely worth buying, because anyone prepared to put in the effort will find they reap rich rewards from watching this one more than just the once.
"It was an evil house from the beginning, a house that was born bad."
A Metro-Goldwyn Mayer production. Produced and directed by Robert Wise. Starring; Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn. Based on the novel 'The Haunting of Hill House' by Shirley Jackson.
'The Haunting' is still one of the best horror/supernatural films. I originally watched it in the early 1970s and it terrified me. Even now, I've watched the DVD many times since, the scenes of poltergeist activity and haunting give me a chill. They're genuinely eerie. There's a growing feeling of claustrophobia made all the more believable due to the small cast.
The spirits of Hill House are hounding down a group of eccentric individuals bought into the house by a 'scientist' to study supernatural phenomenon. The problem is; one of them wasn't selected for the research. One of them was chosen by the house!.
In the novel it's made pretty clear insanity plays a role in what's to come. In the film those themes are kept subtle. It's all about the house. There's no doubt something evil is stalking the group, searching for someone or something but who?. What's the link?.
The scene setting is excellent. The house is brilliantly bought to life. Slamming doors, long twisting corridors, cold spots and a nursery that seems to beat with an evil heart of it's own. Spine chilling stuff but; The Haunting is more than that. There's an excellent story working it's way through and the cast interact beautifully with one another.
The book and the film are very different. The film highlights haunting and the paranormal while the novel concentrates on the characters, their growing paranoia and the influence of their environment. It's much more subtle. If you watch 'The Haunting' and then read the 'The Haunting of Hill House' you might be surprised how different they are.
The Haunting runs for approx. 107 minutes and is contained on one disc. This edition is black and white. Special Features; feature length audio commentary (by Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn, Director Robert Wise and Screenwriter Nelson Gidding), Stills Gallery and Trailer.
The DVD has an age 12 classification due to scenes of moderate horror.
on 9 January 2015
FOR ALL THE BAD REVIEWERS....Its a 1963 film...1963....its not a hollywood blockbuster from 2014, its from 1963.
This film was a milestone for the year and decade...its a sign of the times when everyone expects to see p[eople being butchered, de capitated, burnt, eaten alive by rabid starfish from another planet....for gods sake just watch the film for what it is...a classic from 1963...
in the dark, with popcorn...enjoy.
on 15 July 2014
I appreciate the fact that in today's market of splatterfest gore with beautiful people on screen, this might be seen as not scary?
The fact of the matter is, under the surface, this film is one of a clutch of true horror classic, which delivers the chills NOT through gore, but tension, atmosphere and great story telling.
This film scares the hell out of you because of what you DONT see, and the tricks of the imagination and sight it plays on.And what it plays on is your fear of the unknown.Primal and stunning, this film left my wife in a cold sweat.And she doesn't normally sit through b/w films.Night Of The Demon is another thriller chiller.
Dont be put off 1 star reviews.Watch this at night, do not compare to todays horror flicks, dont expect blood, guts or a man with an axe, just sit back and be prepared for a psychological thrill ride.