Friday, January 29, 2010

The Haunting (1963)

A group of investigators are assembled to stay the week at the supposedly haunted Hill House in order to determine whether there is any paranormal activity occurring in the isolated mansion, but creaky floorboards and distant moans are only the start of the odd happenings that befall them. Unlike the other spook shows of the time (particularly in the cases of William Castle's gimmicky HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL or 13 GHOSTS), Robert Wise's THE HAUNTING reveals very little on screen, opting for subtly implied horrors and psychological terror over full bodied apparitions or cheap thrills. One could even argue that Hill House isn't even haunted, but rather that the four would-be ghost hunters are either giving in to their overactive imaginations or possibly suffering from a group psychosis. As we explore each of the characters, we find various breaks in each of there personalities that could easily allow for such delusions. Even the tragic ending can be seen as a complete coincidence, just another ambiguity left for the viewer to decide upon. The low angled exterior shots and long tracking shots through the cavernous hallways also give the house itself an ominous life of its own, including a dark heart and breathing walls. While the smart script is competently acted and engaging, the intent focus on its characters, lengthy dialogue, and lack of physical specters may surprise new viewers expecting a more visual experience. THE HAUNTING is still a step above all other entries of its time, and a definite Horror classic!

Rating: 10/10.
Number of views: 1.



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11 comments:

  1. I keep hearing good things about this classic and keep never getting around to it; Saw about 20 minutes of it on cable one night several years ago, loved it but dozed off. It was almost mine as part of a great Barnes & Noble buy 2 get 1 free sale... but then I heard the disc rattling around loose in the case and refused to buy it, 'cuz, well, I hate that shit. Is J. Astro fated - nay, CURSED!!! - to never ever see THE HAUNTING? Probably.

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  2. Oh, I held my breath through this whole review....what if he...hates it....can I still talk to him after that :D

    After the Universal monster movies (and most of the Hammer films) this is my FAVORITE movie.....I could watch this every day. Okay, that is probably the sign of a mental condition....but so is spending ridiculous amounts of money decorating your yard for Halloween. :D

    Seriously, this movie defiantly shaped me as haunter. Made me understand and appreciate small details and understand the importance of the watchers imagination.

    Thanks again for putting into words what I was thinking.

    Cheers!

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  3. mi è piaciuto davvero tanto questo film!
    guara caso l'ho visto pochissimi giorni fa e devo dire che merita davvero.
    inquietante, e pauroso al punto giusto. un cocktail di puro terrore.
    complimenti per il blog, molto specializzato e indirizzato nel settore horror che io personalmente adoro!

    a presto

    Lorenzo

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  4. This is an aweswone film. Well worth a watch. Great post.

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  5. Great film! I was worried you weren't going to like it, either. Definitely slower-paced than people expect, and in this ADD world, you know it is not going to appeal to everyone. Glad you liked it!

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  6. Hey Im just as happy to see that everyone else enjoyed it as well! It was probably the exact opposite of my expectations going into the film, and admittedly I had to rewind and rewatch some of it because I fell asleep after a long days work (another reason I havent had as many reviews up this week), but it was definitely a superior example of terror over horror in cinema.

    J., the only thing worse than finding the only disc you want at the store rattling is getting the disc you bought online rattling.. Ugh.. Break peoples faces.. I highly recommend picking this one up in the TCM pack unless you already purchased the other flicks individually, the only downside is you lose out on MYSTERIES OF THE WAX MUSEUM and DR JECKYLL AND MR HYDE (1932)in doing so since they were on the original B sides.

    Grazie per le gentili parole Lorenzo e mi scuso per la traduzione poveri, io sto usando un traduttore online. Attendo con ansia di leggere il tuo blog, e sono felice di sentire vi è piaciuto il film!

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  7. This is one of my favorite films. Oh that scene when Eleanor tells Cleo to stop holding her hand so tightly...still freaks me out.

    A brilliant film no matter how you cut it.

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  8. Im always afraid that I am going to hate old Horror, but thankfully my viewing habits have matured over the years and Im not locked into the gore and grue that I always liked as a teenager. I really liked this one, and I appreciate that it was so good without showing a single ghost!

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  9. Ive been meaning to watch this for the longest time! im a fan of the remake the Jan DeBont one, some people don't like it, but I love its art direction and the film itself is quite spooky at times.

    I want to see this one, but like you, I think I will be let down by it. I do this a lot with old movies as well, but every now and again a truly excellent one shows up. This one has always sounded to me like its going to be one of the great old ones. I need to give it a shot, maybe on a double feature with the original House on Haunted or Hill or House of Wax!

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  10. I love this film - and no matter how many times I watch it (which is, erm, A LOT) - it never gets dull. A masterpiece in effective restraint and atmosphere.

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  11. The new one never settled well with me Franco, but there are still many things I remember liking about it, particularly in the FX. Ill definitely be revisiting it someday!

    Im pleasantly surprised to see just how many people are into this film, it seems me and Franc are two of the last people to see it =D

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