The Haunting [VHS]
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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:

  • A True Classic From a Master Film Maker
    Robert Wise is not as well known to the general public as, say, Hitchcock or Kubrick but he was truly a master of his craft. The imagery, the stunning black & white photography, the widescreen aspect ratio, the editing, the music (so atonal and creepy), the set design (also creepy). Can you tell I love this film? Every Wise film is finely crafted and some (The Haunting, West Side Story, The Sound of Music, The Day the Earth Stood Still) are true cinema classics. Bravo Mr. Wise!...more info
  • DVD review
    I purchased this dvd in order to replace an old off the air recording. Since I am getting rid of my old vcr in favor of a dvr unit, I wanted a copy of this movie in good condition. It is of great quality unlike the recording I had been watching....more info
  • The Scream Of The Crop
    Brilliantly directed by the late, great Robert Wise, 'The Haunting' is definitely a film that deserves its reputation as a classic -- perhaps THE classic -- of the genre.

    Along with Kubrick's 'The Shining', Jack Clayton's 'The Innocents', Peter Medak's 'The Changeling', and John Hough's 'The Legend Of Hell House', this is one of the very finest examples of what Stephen King refers to as stories about the archetypal "Bad Place". (Having written 'The Shining' HE oughtta know!) And, believe me, Hill House is one of the baddest places around!

    Masterfully edited, shot in gorgeous wide-screen black and white, and utilizing infrared filters in a remarkable way to bring out the toweringly poisonous "personality" of Hill House, Wise managed to create one of the most skin-crawlingly disturbing atmospheres imaginable.

    Along with the films' characters, the viewer soon feels that they are also "bottled up" inside the monstrous mansion like so many insects waiting for a spider to pounce.

    And pounce the house does, although often in surprisingly subtle ways that rely much more on the imagination of the viewer and less on graphic special effects.

    Seldom has the use of sound played such an unnerving role in the creation of fear and dread as it does here (although 'The Exorcist' comes to mind in this regard as well, with its well-deserved Oscar for Best Sound). Sometimes a high-pitched woman's laugh echoing down a corridor or a man's deep, muffled voice murmuring indistinctly behind a wall in the dead of night -- especially when NO man or woman should BE there -- can be far creepier than all the gore and prosthetics that Hollywood can throw at you.

    And this is not to denigrate the use of expert make-up or effects when expertly USED in the right way and to the right ends. But there is sure something to be said for being able to get maximum impact with the minimum of visuals on display, and this is something that 'The Haunting' does in spades.

    It also manages to improve -- via Nelson Gidding's superlative screenplay -- upon Shirley Jackson's celebrated and gorgeously written source novel 'The Haunting Of Hill House'. Upon reading it several years ago, I was surprised by a number of elements that struck me as rather clumsy, obvious or melodramatically clich谷 compared to the far subtler and/or more original handling of the equivalent moments in the film. And one only needs to skim the Amazon customer reviews for both this film and its utterly unnecessary color remake to get a strong idea of which version is generally felt to be more effective and frightening.

    I must also make special mention of the unforgettably unsettling musical score by Humphrey Searle and the magnificently moody cinematography by Davis Boulton which help bring Hill House to hideous life as a character all its own. And I suspect that the virtuoso editing, which I've mentioned before, has, perhaps less to do with the credited editor, Ernest Walter, than it does with the man who edited 'Citizen Kane' -- i.e. a certain Mr. Robert Wise!

    But this is not to ignore the all-important human factor either, with classic performances by its marvelous ensemble of actors, each sheer perfection in their roles. And even though she has only a few minutes of total screen time, you won't soon forget THE single creepiest housekeeper in the history of cinema (including Mrs. Danvers in 'Rebecca'!). And if her signature "in the night... in the dark" refrain doesn't make your blood run just a bit colder then you're a bolder soul than I!

    In fact, I suppose this is a good time for a singular and, perhaps, surprising confession: namely that this is THE one film that, to this day, I am truly uncomfortable watching alone at night. And this is coming from a dude who has seen, without notable problems or discomfort, just about everything the horror genre has to offer. And yet THIS one STILL manages to get under my skin in a way that I find difficult to shake and that disturbs me in a not particularly enjoyable way.

    A friend of mine once made me turn off the film halfway through simply because she found the atmosphere just too dreadfully disturbing. So at least I KNOW I'm not alone in this reaction.

    And while visual shocks don't play THE major role in this particular cinematic haunting, that's NOT to say that there aren't a couple memorable visual scares to be found -- two involving doors, and two involving walls. But no spoilers here: ya gotta see the film!

    I'll just end this by saying that, much as I adore Kubrick's amazingly menacing Overlook Hotel, and as much spooky mayhem as The Belasco House (in 'Legend Of Hell House') dredges up, it's Robert Wise's malevolently forbidding Hill House that you could NOT pay me a million bucks to spend a single night alone in! And, believe me, I could USE that money!

    A FINAL NOTE OF INTEREST: My wife and I, on vacation in the U.K. (where she's from), DID actually spend a delightfully memorable afternoon in and all around the imposing yet beautiful Ettington Hall which became the hideously uninviting Hill House in Wise's film. And guess what? The place IS actually haunted -- or so the legend states -- by the spirits of two children who drowned in a river on the property, and by a woman who threw herself from one of the tower windows. Be that as it may, the atmosphere of the old edifice in person is infinitely more pleasant and charming than in the film. And, indeed, it's almost hard to connect the diseased looking malevolence of the massive, cathedral-like pile in the movie with the smaller seeming and much prettier mansion one sees with one's own eyes. But here's a hint: COLOR makes a BIG difference! (Bob -- you were Wise, indeed, to shoot in good ol' B&W!)

    AND A FINAL NOTE OF WARNING: If you MUST watch this film alone, take my advice and DON'T watch it "In the night... In the dark"!
    ...more info
  • Really? This is a classic?
    I'll state right off the bat that I enjoy the 1999 version of this movie, but since so many people who don't like that movie state it is because of this version I thought I would check it out. I rented "The Haunting" and sat down to watch it with my mother - who did not recall seeing it back in the 60's. Right off the bat, we agreed that Julie Harris was really annoying as "Eleanor." She played that character like she was already crazy - there was nowhere for her go with it. She may have been going for fragile, but she failed. But we kept with the movie for awhile until mom couldn't take it anymore, said "This is boring," and left. I tried, but ended up fast-forwarding through most of the rest until I got to the doctor's wife arriving at the house. A little creepiness occurred when she appeared out of the ceiling near the end (she was lost in the house and found a trap door that opened to a library ladder), but frankly by that point I just didn't care.

    Sometimes, the classics are not all they are cracked up to be and this is one of them. And, yes, to a previous reviewer, I watched it all the way through with the lights out - no problem. I'll take the 1999 version over this - and Poltergeist over the both of them....more info
  • I dare you to watch this movie in the dark! Really! I can't!
    No CGI, no gore, no nudity. Which means many people under 30 probably won't like this movie. I'm not a big fan of the role played by Julie Harris (her whining gets really old!)but this movie delivers chills and the creeps without all the predictable junk found in many new "horror" flicks. I have only seen this movie on TV,so I can't review the quality of the DVD recording. But I'm going to find out, as I am about to buy it. Enjoy!...more info
  • Leave It Out...
    When was the last time you enjoyed a horror film with no blood, no gore and almost no violence?

    Getting to watch a film that actually delivered on its promises was a wonderful surprise. To participate in a story that deals with the psychology of a character (Nell) and her unravelling at Hill House was artfully done and something rarely understood by many of the storytellers getting produced today.

    In all fairness, films aren't made by one person and it is entirely possible that a good script could be destroyed by the time studio execs, changing directors and re-writes are finished, but there is no doubt that the 1999 version focused on the visual thrills instead of the psychological ones and, as a result, failed as so many other horror film remakes do (House on Haunted Hill, 13 Ghosts, The House of Wax, etc.)

    It always helps when the source material is good and I had the fortune of reading "The Haunting of Hill House" before watching the 1963 version. Why so many filmmakers underestimate the importance of story and go for the cheap thrills (or should I say expensive with CGI) is something I have difficulty understanding. I know there is a place for "slasher" films both in terms of market and audience, but where have all of the good psychological horror/mysteries gone?

    "Seven" and "Silence of the Lambs" stand out in my mind as stories that will withstand the test of time. "Identity" and "Gothika" were satisying tales that focused on character, psychology and story to become notable in their genres (but all mentioned contained blood, some gore and violence).

    I enjoyed this film. I very much enjoyed the commentary, a gift to hear from the screenwriter and director as well as the cast so many years after its initial success, very informative for those who wish to study the craft of storytelling, directing or acting.

    "Leave it out," a phrase told to the audience by one of the actors in the commentary (I believe the actor who played the doctor) spoke of how important it is to not tell an audience every little thing. And it is so very true. I think one of the reasons I enjoy the classics more than modern films is because they don't explain every little thing. This is a film that gets away with a substantial amount of voiceover. It's very rare to hear the internal thoughts of a character in a film and even more rare that it works. And yet the film still relies on the intelligence and imagination of the audience that, for me, was a welcome experience....more info
  • "I belong here."
    Nell Lance is not well. She has spent most of her adult life caring for her invalid mother and she is having difficulty coping now that mother has passed on. She sees her big opportunity to live a little when she is invited to the Hill House for a brief stay. This is her time to socialize, to break out of her cocoon and to prove to everyone else that she belongs in their group. Seems she has somehow gotten the wrong idea. The well known Dr. Markway (Richard Johnson) sees the recently vacated Hill House as an opportunity to prove the existence of ghosts, ghouls and/or goblins. He has invited Theo (the beautiful Claire Bloom) for her psychic ability and the skeptical Luke (Russ Tamblyn) for use of his inherited house. Nell was asked to come because of her propensity for communicating with the dead, a claim she vehemently denies. What the group finds at Hill House is worth investigating for viewers. Julie Harris is terrific as the disturbed Nell and the others turn in good performances as well. I wouldn't go so far as to say this is a scary movie, but Robert Wise's direction makes this a fairly gripping movie. I am slightly surprised by its G rating, given the intense moments and a couple of swear words. This really should be PG. You can't really go wrong if you are looking for a good haunted house movie.

    ...more info
  • The Implications are Better than Any Visual Frightfest.
    This old 1963 scarefest works for those of you (myself included) who are not into the screaming gorefest of so many others' preference and prefer a more sophisticated way to get a chill or two sliding up your spine.

    We never actually see Hugh Crane outside the initial history of the house being unearthed to the viewer, but we feel him from the second the house's creepy window eyes set their sights on Elenor. This movie never shows us the undead monster that he is, but the sounds and invisible tangibility of the evil in the house is enough to scare the living crud out of anyone watching this movie only once a year. This past Saturday evening I had to leave my bedroom light on when Crane kept knocking on all the doors! It is more the history of the house, its various inhabitants, the nature of Crane himself, and the implications in Hill House which is, according to Elenor, "so ugly it's beautiful" that work on one's psyche, and that's what makes this old b/w movie work so well.

    No, it's not in color, but it's 100 times better than that overly computerized piece of tripe with Liam Neeson, and it doesn't hit you over the head with obvious things you can figure out for yourself--like, say, Theo's gender preference? Gee, thanks, P.C. Hollywood, but I think most people weren't that clueless back in the day. I saw this version before the horrible new one and figured that out for myself. Check out this version for a genuinely old fashioned, yet somehow timeless, and sophisticated scare. You may not be terrified, but I recommend a goosebumb or two! ...more info
  • This Film Stands Alone inThe Horror Genre
    I first saw this film when it was released in 1963 at the theater. I remember one specific scene in which everyone in the house yelled.
    I mean the way the scene was set up and executed, scared the heck out of
    everyone. I'm talking about the scene with the steel spiral staircase that started shaking and the balcony. I don't want to say more and take the fun out of it for those who haven't yet seen it. Those that have will know what I'm talking about. After over 40 years this film still stands out in my mind, and in my opinion, nothing since has come close to duplicating the atmosphere in this movie. With Halloween around the corner
    this would be the perfect movie to set the mood. Yes, it is in B&W, but don't let that deter you from seeing an all time Horror classic. Charlie S....more info
  • A less than terrifying horror flick
    The premise of "The Haunting" is a good one, an eerie dark New England mansion, Hill House, with a physical appearance designed to evoke horror. Unfortunately the plot and the acting didn't succeed in eliciting a blip on my radar. Director Robert Wise should however be commended for creating a sense of terror without the blood, gore and special effects seen in contemporaty horror flicks.

    Dr. Markway played by Richard Johnson is an anthropologist with an interest in paranormal phenomena. His discovery of the existence of the desolate and remote Hill House provides him with the perfect environment to detect the presence of the supernatural. Needing corroboration for his findings he recruits two women to spend time with him in the house. Claire Bloom plays the clairvoyant Theodora. Julie Harris portraying Eleanor is psychic and seems to be the focus for the spirits that inhabit the house. Also along as part of the group is obnoxious and skeptical Luke Sanderson played by Russ Tamblyn, the nephew of the owner of Hill House and the eventual heir of the haunted house.

    The group predictably has to remain in the house and are exposed to various bizarre happenings including noises, screaming and unexplained weirdness. Lois Maxwll, known for playing Miss Moneypenny in many James Bond flick, plays Dr. Markway's wife, Grace....more info
  • Good Old Fashioned Haunted House Movie
    This is an interesting movie for several reasons.

    I guess one of the main ideas is the main character is trying to escape her miserable and empty life. So fate causes her to be invited to a strange paranormal investigation where people spend some time in this haunted house.

    Hill House represents all of the hopes and dreams that never came true for her.

    Unfortunately all of those lost dreams had turned her into a very angry and hopeless person. The house feeds on this and starts to pull her in more and more.

    There are parrallels between her miserable life now where she failed to respond to her dying mother's call for help and another girl who also failed to respond to the old lady who originally lived in the house.

    That other girl ended up hanging herself because of either guilt or just being overcome by the evil forces within the house.

    Could this be hinting at reincarnation and these two people are really one and the same person ? I don't know.

    It is probably a case where reading the book would help to understand what's going on.

    The people who made this movie were knowledgeable about what happens during a real haunting.

    Haunting activity occurs in the spirit world which is more real than this physical dimension.

    That's why two people can be in the same room and only one experiences the horrible events.

    That's also why people claim to have experienced things during a haunting but nobody believes them.

    When people experience haunting activity a deep fear starts to take hold of them. This is a fear that goes beyond the physical because the spirit senses the danger.

    In a situation like that confusion starts to arise as those dark forces begin to attack the people in the house.

    This movie captures these things very well.

    There are quite a few accounts of real hauntings such as The Ametyville Horror which is a true story.

    This was a dysfunctional family where evil had already pervaded their lives. Then they moved into a house where evil had come alive.

    Jeff Marzano

    The Shining

    Horror Hotel

    Voodoo Island/The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (Midnite Movies Double Feature)

    ...more info

    This is a speculative, psychological thriller that aims to bring the audience into the terror that is being dramatically fictionalized and focused in the head of Julie Harris who plays Eleanor Vance [Nell].

    Is it real or is it Nell?


    Richard Johnson plays Dr. John Markway, a college professor who has taken a leave of absence from school to do just one thing -- PROVE THAT GHOSTS ARE REAL! With an almost-childlike playfulness and naivete, he and his entourage of psychically sensitive persons and one disbeliever embark on an insane mission to achieve Markway's goal -- stay cooped up in the notorious "Hill House" for an extended period and hope for the worst.


    Basically, we have four main characters who, for four separate reasons of their own, are willing to stay on at Hill House and see the experiment through. First, there is Dr. Markway whom we discussed above. Julie Harris as Nell is a deeply-troubled woman whose personal life or lack of it is at the center of the story. She wants a place for herself, somewhere. WHY NOT HERE AT HILL HOUSE or with Dr. Markway? Third, we have Claire Bloom as Theodora. Theodora brings sexual tension and the hint of a lesbian relationship between the two women to our attention. Theodora, a psychic, spends her entire stay at Hill House as close to Nell as possible while acting very possessively toward her. She teases and taunts Nell, but it seems mostly out of a need to be closer to her, like a jealous lover which, in 1963, is a tough theme to demonstrate effectively on mainstream film. Our fourth intrepid investigator is Luke Sanderson played by Russ Tamblyn. His interest is simple, he expects to inherit Hill House and make his living off it. Naturally he is skeptical toward the supernatural in his "real estate", and has even mentioned selling off the house's library, book-by-book, for a quarter a piece -- the china dishes too!


    Dr. Markway's wife, to Nell's surprise and Theo's delight, shows up with a "You've got to stop all this childish nonsense" tone to Dr. Markway. According to her, Dr. Markway has not just taken a leave of absence, but has taken leave of his senses as well! Somehow, Mrs. Markway stays the night in the nursery, "the evil heart of Hill House", all alone to make some kind of a point like, "See, it's morning and I slept like the dead." Ha-ha on Mrs. Markway. Well, the point is made and it brings the film to its climax which is quite thrilling. Enough has been said, as more would spoil the film for anyone who has not seen it.


    This is a terrific film on the order of "The Uninvited" and "Psycho" [mentioned aptly by an earlier reviewer]. There is no gore, no nudity, no foul language, yet the film does instill palpable fear -- the kind of fear that children have of the dark. On the cover of the DVD it says, "YOU MAY NOT BELIEVE IN GHOSTS, BUT YOU CAN'T DENY TERROR!" This is certainly true for, whether the ghosts are real or not, we see Nell's nosedive into her own twilight zone -- a fantasy world of ghosts, romance, and impending doom -- which can stand on its own with or without real ghosts.


    You'll have to judge for yourself, but it won't be easy!


    The less-is-better approach with which Director Robert Wise has saturated "The Haunting" is utilized with appropriately excellent results in the "Special Features". The very clean B/W transfer on "Widescreen" is enough to make the DVD version a must have. There's also a "Theatrical Trailer", an essay -- "Great Ghost Stories", and you can play it in English, French or Spanish.

    The best feature, however, is the commentary which is provided on a rotating basis by Director Robert Wise and Stars Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson and Russ Tamblyn, plus Screenwriter Nelson Gidding throughout the film. They have relevant things to say and it is worth watching the film for their comments alone at least once.

    ...more info
  • A really slow movie
    I was mislead by all the reviews I read, and I bought this DVD expecting a great psychological terror movie which trascended time (because it didn't rely on special effects).

    Well, sadly, I found out it's not only very slow, linear, and even boring, but manages to be anything BUT scary. It's more of a drama than a terror movie.

    I'm not one to require gore or graphic violence to get scared, a good plot and decent acting will do it most of the time, but this movie doesn't have a very good plot, nor specially great acting.

    I tried my best to find the greatness in this movie everyone talks about, find out why they call it a classic, but I failed. And I do love classics. Since I'm a fairly easy person to satisfy (moviewise), I suspect most people I know wouldn't like it either...

    It's sooo boring!

    ...more info
  • One of the creepiest haunted houses.
    I'm not sure why Amazon deleted my previous review for this last year, anyway The Haunting is one of the best classic horror films of all time. The subtle way this film manages to creep its audience is just amazing not to mention the brilliant black and white cinematography were nicely shot from different angles to make the house seem more menacing and evil. The characters were also great especially Julie Harris as Eleanor it was one of her best roles ever. The film starts of with a prologue detailing the history of Hill House over its past 90 years where each occupant has mysteriously died by an accident in the house, then its the present where we meet Dr. John Markway (Richard Johnson) A psychic and paranormal researcher invites three guests to document the events in Hill house to prove the existence of ghosts and paranormal phenomena, the three guests are Eleanor (Julie Harris) a lonely spinster who has spent all her life as a recluse caring for her ill mother shes also very neurotic and seems to have issues and had a paranormal experience when she was a child, it seems like the house is more interested in her as if it was forcing her not to leave or it might be all in her head as she likes to make things up, director Robert Wise did a great job of making this a complicated character.

    The other guest is Cleo (Claire Bloom) a psychic who likes to torment Eleanor while at the same time has some sympathy for her but it seems like she might be attracted to her even though Eleanor avoids her advances. They are joined by Luke (Russ Tamblyn) a guy who likes to joke around does not believe in the paranormal and thinks that its total nonsense, hes just along for the ride since he is about to inherit the place but he soon won't be sure as some of the hauntings become more terrifying especially the scene where the door starts stretching as if it was breathing and the house was alive that scene was very creepy and was one of the best sequences in the film.

    All the sound effects and creepy child noises were great and used to great effect in this film which makes this one of the greatest horror films of the 60's ever, the special fx are kept to a minimum and it does not rely on blood or violence to scare the audiance, the storyline was terrific and the plot made this one of the scariest films out there as well as concentrating on the psychological aspect of the characters especially Eleanor who looks like she might have completely lost her mind. I'm not going to describe anything else since the previous reviewers already did that but I will say one more thing you really need to watch this if your a horror fan and the ending will make you feel afraid of the dark (O.K. maybe I exaggereted a little). ...more info
  • Among the greats
    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 brings the stylish psychic Theo effortlessly to life, 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. Instead of ghosts, director Robert Wise makes you watch creaking and bulging doors, flock wallpaper that looks like it's taking on the shape of a face, and door handles that may or may not be turning ever so slowly...exactly the type of things that scare us when our minds play tricks on us late at night. 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. The DVD also comes with a commentary from all four cast members, the director and screenwriter - something of a coup there! Although Claire Bloom and Julie Harris only speak once each, and Richard Johnson fills up most of the running time with his theatrical anecdotes, it's still a welcome addition.

    ...more info
  • Classic
    This film is a classic that is great for its time and still holding up today. It's absolutely worth seeing, not a bad purchase, but be forwarned- I'm as big a fan of atmospheric horror as anyone, but this film is not the chiller so many other reviews/lists claim it is. There are a couple tense moments, but they are not comparible to many other films like The Thing, The Exorcist, The Omen (original), Poltergeist- just to name a few well known ones .

    If you like chillers, I have a recommendation not many people have seen. There is a relatively new film called Sublime, which is a little abstract, but uncomfortable and it keeps you guessing. Nothing but atmosphere and wonder....more info
  • The Haunting
    Es una elegante pel赤cula de horror, mas psicol車gica que visual pues no tiene apariciones estrepitosas y sangrientas, sino que el mal o el peligro est芍n sugeridos mediante la combinaci車n de unos personajes particulares, construidos mediante la direcci車n adecuada de unos actores que hacen gala de una convincente actuaci車n, y la fotograf赤a en blanco y negro que aprovecha de la mejor manera un escenario sugestivo. Para las generaciones "educadas" visualmente por la TV (que copi車 pel赤culas como esta para vulgarizar sus paradigmas de genero) y esperan grandes efectos visuales como en la estridente versi車n de esta misma pel赤cula realizada en 1999, The Haunting les puede resultar lenta o aburrida y por eso deben tener clara sus expectativas antes de verla pues est芍 a siglos luz de pel赤culas con im芍genes y situaciones horrendas explicitas y acci車n trepidante. Es una pel赤cula de tenso desarrollo y como en otras de reciente 谷xito ("Los Otros" o "El sexto sentido" e incluso "El orfanato") el espectador es advertido sin estropicio y tumultos de que el mal puede subyacer agazapado en cada uno y que ciertos lugares o escenarios solo proporcionan la v赤a para su manifestaci車n y triunfo atrapando a la victima de turno a la cual posiblemente ya tenia acorralada. Buenos subtitulos en espa?ol y los extras o bonus del DVD medianamente interesantes....more info
  • Scariest Movie I've Ever Seen
    Although it has no blood, guts, gore, or fancy special effects, this remains the most frightening film I've ever seen. All of the "scare factor" is psychological. Creepy things happen at unexpected points throughout the movie, and they're realistic things -- unexplained noises and voices, cold spots, etc. Since the scary things are not badly-rendered CGI Hollywood monsters, you finish watching the movie and half expect to hear noises coming from the next room. If you're looking for the kind of scare that will let your imagination get the best of you, instead of in-your-face chainsaws and freaks in masks, you will enjoy this movie....more info
  • Simplt the best
    This is by far the best Haunted House movie ever made. The only one that comes close to this is the Entity. The Haunting was way ahead of it's time and is soooo good. Not many special effects. No blood or gore. Done right!!!!!!...more info
  • THIS ghost sure isn't Casper !
    If you possess half an ounce of imagination, you are guaranteed to give yourself a major case of the creeps. I dare you to watch this movie alone in the dark and tell me you haven't turned on every light in your home. I have seen this movie numerous times since it's release in 1963 and still pick up on things I'd never noticed before. It was and still remains, the creepiest ghost story ever made. To raise EVERY hair on the back of your neck, team it up the The Innocents with Deborah Kerr and The Changeling with George C. Scott....more info
  • Don't watch this after dark!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I first saw this movie when I was in college and it scared the beejesus out of me. I now own it and watch it every Halloween as a sort of homage to my youth...........and it stills scares me. As many of the others have stated, it's not what you see, but what you don't see. This is the queen mother of psychological thrillers as far as I'm concerned.

    This movie is guaranteed to give you goosebumps and cause you to miss a good night's sleep!! The "face" in the wall gets me every time!!!...more info
  • Not to be missed
    I saw this movie when it first came out and let me tell you that if I hadn't been a teenage male I would have run shrieking in fright from the theater but males don't do that.

    It's all been said in the previous hundreds of reviews but this movie remains as frightening to me on DVD as the first time I saw it. Forget your blood and guts movies. No blood and guts here but a memorable experience that will leave you with nightmares for years....more info
  • A House Born Bad?
    This is an interesting, well rendered film that follows Shirley Jackson's classic THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE quite closely. The film opens with a brief history of the spooky isolated New England mansion which has had more than its fair share of insanity murder and suicide in the ninety years it has been standing. The story is mostly told through the eyes of Eleanor "Nell" Lance, excellently played by Julie Harris, a repressed spinster who has spent her young adulthood caring for her chronic invalid mother who has recently died. We see her living with her awful sister and her family who begrudge her even the use of a car for which she has helped pay. It seems Eleanor has always been considered "nervous" by her family because of an incident of poltergeist activity when she was ten years old. This incidence has given her some notoriety which is why she is invited to do psychic research at Hill House by researcher Dr. Markway. Hill House seems interested in Eleanor from the beginning possibly because her recent history shares some similarities with some past residents.

    At Hill House Eleanor meets the beautiful, ambiguous (in more ways than one) clairvoyant Theo who is the only other person with paranormal experience Dr. Markway has been able to recruit to come to the notorious house. Dr. Markway, himself, is a stereotype of a handsome professor and Eleanor soon develops a crush on him and is shocked when his self-confident wife shows up later. The other main character is Luke a wisecracking spoiled rich boy type who is the heir to the owner of Hill House. The caretakers, "The Dudleys", play supporting parts and offer some ominous remarks about the house and its reputation.

    As others have said the chills in this film come more from the well conceived atmosphere and the viewer's imagination than anything actually shown on screen. Like the estate in THE INNOCENTS Hill House filled with creepy statues and Victorian decorations is an important character in the film in its own right. There is a feeling of unease throughout the film and it ends on a perfect understated yet chilling note....more info
  • Do houses have souls? This one does - Robert Wise shows us how!
    If you want your horror spoon-fed to you and all your scares have to be sight gags (as has become common place in recent horror flicks), this is definitely NOT the movie for you. "The Haunting" is great cinema. Filmed in B/W - which does great things to the mood of the movie - and almost entirely without obvious scares. The Haunting's ability to deliver goose bumps comes from the expert visual flair delivered by Robert Wise, as well as solid ensemble acting. Wise was a critically acclaimed and accomplished director (The Day The Earth Stood Still, Run Silent Run Deep & West Side Story) when he made The Haunting, and directoral abilities come through loud and clear. This movie never fails to give me the shivers when I watch it.

    Wise's film (Nelson Gidding's screenplay - Gidding also scripted Wise's The Andromeda Strain & The Hindenburg) is based on the the book "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson. The Haunting (the movie) remains faithful to the basic story set forth in Jackson's book. However, like most movies, The Haunting, is not a direct translation of the text to film. The first third or so of the book is quite well represented. However, it would seem for pacing reasons that Gidding constricted the "action" of the middle portion of the book, and for simplicity of character's condensed two characters from the last third of the book (the wife of Dr. Montague [book]/Dr. Markway [film] & her friend Arthur) into one (Markway's wife). The latter change results in a different final act of the movie as compared to the book and leads to the only "overt" scare of the film (which is not present in the book). Otherwise, I believe Wise has brought to screen a creepy rendition of Jackson's book, at least equal in its ability to scare as this classic piece of literature.

    The 90's remake of The Haunting is utter garage in comparison. No mood at all, everything is feed to the viewer not by spoon but intravenously. Where Wise assumed that moviegoers would have a brain and enjoy using it, the makers of the 90's version of The Haunting felt we all wanted to be plugged into the "Matrix" and have no personal experience. If you like a thinking persons horror/suspense movie try Wise's materpiece. If you want blood, guts and everything obvious go see a Saw movie.

    The Haunting - great cinema, 5 stars!...more info
  • Why your imagination is scarier than any special FX
    I first saw The Haunting as a second feature at one of those repertory movie houses that show different films every night. It was the first film of the night with Tommy being the main feature. An odd pairing, true. Needless to say, The Haunting had much more of a lasting affect on me. It's the perfect scary movie. A great cast, brilliant camera work and subtle special FX that frighten long after the movie is over. One of my favorite moments is actually a triple cross-fade from the outside of the house to the staircase inside, and faded between this is a close up of one of the door knobs with a face on it. A great lights off wrapped in a blanket movie....more info