The Haunting

Dr. Markway, doing research to prove the existence of ghosts, investigates Hill House, a large, eerie mansion with a lurid history of violent death and insanity.

Credits: TheMovieDb.

Film Cast:

  • Eleanor Lance: Julie Harris
  • Theodora: Claire Bloom
  • Dr. John Markway: Richard Johnson
  • Luke Sanderson: Russ Tamblyn
  • Mrs. Sanderson: Fay Compton
  • Mrs. Dudley: Rosalie Crutchley
  • Grace Markway: Lois Maxwell
  • Mr. Dudley: Valentine Dyall
  • Carrie Fredericks: Diane Clare
  • Eldridge Harper: Ronald Adam
  • First Mrs. Crain (uncredited): Pamela Buckley
  • Second Mrs. Crain (uncredited): Frieda Knorr
  • Abigail Crain at 80 years old (uncredited): Amy Dalby
  • Abigail Crain’s Nurse’s Companion (uncredited): Rosemary Dorken
  • Dora Fredericks (uncredited): Verina Greenlaw
  • Hugh Crain (uncredited): Howard Lang
  • Bud Fredericks (uncredited): Paul Maxwell
  • Nurse (uncredited): Susan Richards
  • Landlady (uncredited): Mavis Villiers

Film Crew:

  • Producer: Robert Wise
  • Production Design: Elliot Scott
  • Casting: Irene Howard
  • Makeup Artist: Tom Smith
  • Editor: Ernest Walter
  • Set Decoration: John Jarvis
  • Screenplay: Nelson Gidding
  • Novel: Shirley Jackson
  • Original Music Composer: Humphrey Searle
  • Director of Photography: Davis Boulton
  • Associate Producer: Denis Johnson
  • Special Effects: Tom Howard
  • Assistant Director: David Tomblin

Movie Reviews:

  • Nutshell: Many years ago little nutshell asked Mommy and Daddy for permission to stay up and watch this movie. He soon regretted it, as this bone-chilling ghost story nearly caused the young lad
    to soil his shorts, and it would be several more days until he could fall asleep with the lights out.
    Even today, I can’t watch this movie in an empty house with the lights off. It’s just too damn scary.
    Robert Wise had one of the most varied and distinguished directorial careers in Hollywood history,
    and he understood very well that psychologically speaking, what you can’t see can hurt you. An
    imaginative viewer will almost always fill in a blank with something far more horrible than what
    the director could show on screen. This is a formula that has been largely abandoned, and is a
    highly contributing reason why most of today’s horror movies absolutely suck. Give this one a go.
    Wait until nightfall. Wait until nobody else is home. Turn off the lights and watch. I dare you…
  • John Chard: And whatever walked there, walked alone.

    The Haunting is directed by Robert Wise and adapted to screenplay by Nelson Gidding from the Shirley Jackson novel The Haunting of Hill House. It stars Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn and Lois Maxwell. Music is by Humphrey Searle and cinematography by David Boulton.

    Hill House has a troubled history, death, either by accident or by suicide, has occurred there over the years. Today, Dr. Markway, an anthropologist and investigator of paranormal activity, leads a team of four for a stay at Hill House, where they will stay for a period of time in the hope that Markway can prove something paranormal resides there…

    The haunted house premise has been a staple for horror film makers since forever. To place the viewer in a murky house, alongside some character unfortunates, and then scare the tar out of them has always been the aim. It hasn’t often worked to great effect, in fact the number of genuine scary haunted house movies barely trouble the fingers of both hands. How strange, then, that the best of the bunch chose a simple formula that has never been replicated since with the same great effect.

    The Haunting thrives not on what it throws at you by way of jumps and peek-a-boo visceral shocks, it deals firmly in the realm of what you can’t see scares you the most. Where we have to use our own fretful imaginations to fill in the blanks for us, which is never a good thing in psychological horror parlance. Robert Wise, a most gifted and versatile director, uses oblique camera angles, thundering sound effects and angled close ups of his actors to get the maximum amount of atmosphere from the premise.

    Distortion is very much a key component here. We are told the history of the house and some of its structural quirks, the camera angles heighten this for ethereal impact whilst simultaneously marrying up to the distortion of a key character’s mental health. The story in essence sounds simple, yet there is much bubbling away in Hill House, both on the page and up there on the screen. This is not simply a case of a group of people being haunted by a spectre or otherwise, the mind is a key player here, very much so.

    Along the way are some truly breath holding scenes; a bending door, pounding in the corridor, a face on the wall (the lighting here genius), Nell’s hand holding incident, a rickety spiral staircase that we fear from the off, and the ghostly finale as Hill House reveals its hand and what we thought was a simple and true narrative is actually more clever, more chilling than we first imagined. Suggestion is a very big thing in The Haunting, it’s what drives it to greatness, but it also has scenes that really bring the gooseflesh jumping up on your arms.

    The acting is mostly great, with Tamblyn and Johnson correctly underplaying their roles to let the two girls take centre stage. Both Harris and Bloom are excellent. As Nell, Harris is nervous, introverted and caught up in the atmosphere of the house, it’s the pivotal role and Harris instills a heart aching fragility into the character. Bloom as Theodora has mystical qualities, a sexiness and a devilishly playful disposition, things that play off of Harris’ egg shell walking quite brilliantly. While the house itself (exterior is Ettington Park Hotel in Stratford-Upon-Avon) is an ominous character all of its own. As Nell first spies the monolithic frontage she muses that it’s a monster waiting to swallow her, a small creature, whole; we know exactly how she feels.

    Still the template haunted house movie, accept no substitutes and ignore stupid claims of homophobia, this is intelligent, scary and crafted with great skill. 10/10

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