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Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Haunting

 1963's "The Haunting" just might be the best and scariest haunted house movie ever.  Director Robert Wise has crafted a supremely chilling adaption of Shirley Jackson's brilliant novel, "The Haunting of Hill House".  At turns sad, eerie, touching, and downright frightening, it holds up far better than most modern ghost stories, especially that miserable waste of celluloid that was the remake.  No, the original 1963 version is simply superb and it really could not have been brought to the screen any better.

     Julie Harris turns in an unforgettably haunting (pardon the pun) performance as Eleanore, who is trying to regain her life after taking care of her invalid mother for the past few years.  She joins Dr. Markway and two other ghostbusters (the dependable Russ Tamblyn, and Claire Bloom, as a gasp!, lesbian who has her sights on Eleanore...) to find out what is really going on at Hill House, a brooding, downright scary house with a long history of unpleasantness.

     The scares begin almost immediately as we are treated to the first shot of  Hill House- the house itself just looks wrong, with all its odd angles and brooding atmosphere.  The caretakers of Hill House are extremely creepy as well- Mrs. Dudley delivers a simple and terrifying line when Eleanore arrives at Hill House.  "No one can hear you if you scream.  In the the dark...."  Hill House is all wrong angles and distorted hallways.  It just looks wrong.  

     "The Haunting" contains some truly scary scenes- especially the one where Eleanor thinks Theo is holding her hand to tightly in the dark, only to find out it wasn't Theo holding her hand at all...  Truly one of the greatest horror movies to come out of the 60's, "The Haunting" ranked #18 on Bravo's list of 100 Scariest Movie Moments.  Forget the abysmal remake- just pretend it doesn't even exist.   Watch the original alone in the dark one night and tell me you didn't come down with a good, solid case of the creeps.  And the book that this horror classic is based on is simply one of the best written ghost stories of all time.  Shirley Jackson's "The Haunting Of Hill House" is essential reading- and they perfectly brought to life Jackson's novel.  Like "Rosemary's Baby", the book and film go hand in hand.  "The Haunting" is awesome.

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