Sunday, May 8, 2011

#275. The Haunting (1963)



Directed By: Robert Wise

Starring: Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson



Tag line: "You May Not Belive in Ghosts, But You Cannot Deny Terror!"

Trivia: Martin Scorsese has stated that THE HAUNTING is his favorite horror film of all-time







An evil old house, the kind some people call haunted, is like an undiscovered country just waiting to be explored”. This is how the narrator of 1963's The Haunting describes Hill House, a bleak, barren old structure that's “stood for 90 years, and might stand for 90 more”. He continues that the house is “now silent, and whatever walks there walks alone”, but when a few brave souls venture inside, the spirits that occupy Hill House do not welcome the company, and break their silence in a big, big way. Perhaps the finest haunted house film ever made, The Haunting will cause even the sturdiest members of its audience to be deathly afraid of things that go bump in the night. 

The “brave souls” I speak of include Dr. Markway (Richard Johnson), a researcher with a keen interest in the supernatural and the man who arranged this little expedition. Of those he invited along, all chickened out but three: Theodora (Claire Bloom), a medium of sorts with an unusual personality; Luke Sanderson (Russ Tamblyn), who stands to inherit Hill House and wishes to dispel the ghostly "rumors" that surround it, and Eleanor Vance (Julie Harris), a lonely spinster whose spent the majority of her life caring for her sickly mother. Eleanor, called “Nell” by her friends, was chosen because, as a child, she supposedly witnessed a supernatural event (for two solid days, her family's house was bombarded by stones that fell from the sky). Of the four, it's Nell who exhibits the most acute sense of what transpires inside Hill House, as if the walls themselves were calling out to her. Over the course of several days, the others will come to fear Hill House.  For Nell, it's like she's finally found a place to call home. 

So many elements blend together perfectly in The Haunting, creating a horror film that, even decades later, will scare the piss out of you. In unison with the black and white photography is the camerawork of Davis Boulton, who tilts and turns his camera, signifying a situation that's quickly spinning out of control. There's the oh-so ghastly core of Humphrey Searle, which, even without the images to support it, will chill you to the bone, not to mention the house itself, certainly one of the most fearsome structures in horror history. And then we have the actors. Claire Bloom brings an air of mystery to Theordora, enough of one to make the others question her true intentions, and Richard Johnson shines as the leader who tries to bottle up his excitement for the good of the group. The key performance, however, is delivered by Julie Harris, whose Nell is a shy, withdrawn woman with a facial tick and a penchant for drawing the attentions of the spirit world. Nell is both terrified and invigorated by the goings-on in Hill House, and, despite the very great danger she's in, decides it's exactly where she wants to be, and where she wants to spend the rest of her days. With so many excellent parts coming together as a whole, it's little wonder The Haunting is still a highly regarded genre classic. 

I love a good haunted house movie, and have seen my share of some very good ones (House on Haunted Hill, The Legend of Hell House, The Amityville Horror). The Haunting is a great one. Simply put, it's the best of its kind.








40 comments:

NUTS4R2 said...

Totally agree and would personally say that the original version of The Haunting is easily the greatest horror movie ever made.

Have you read the original 1959 novel, The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson?

Anonymous said...

Alomst thruogh the latest podcast and befor i forgot i want to say I am excited with InSide it sounds phenomanal I will be buying it today another fine podcast

Anonymous said...

Excellent show doctor shock never heard of any of these horror movies. Very useful to me.

MeanGreenMcLean

Anonymous said...

NEW listener hear looking for Frnech horror and you guys knocked it out of the park. Loved it!!!!!!

Greg, not to be confused with the host Gregamortis who has a huge southern draw, whoa!!!!!!

Dave Becker said...

Thanks to everyone for stopping by, and for the comments

@NUTS4R2: THE HAUNTING is, indeed, an incredible film, and while I personally wouldn't rank it as the best horror film ever, I could certainly see why you might. And no, I haven't yet read THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, but after seeing this film I will probably be doing so in the near future.

@Anonymous: You certainly can't go wrong with INSIDE. It positively blew me (as well as a few of the other hosts) away! Glad you enjoyed the show, and thanks for listening.

@MeanGreenMcLean: There were some definite films to pick up among those discussed. I'm pleased that you found a few new movies to check out, and also that you enjoyed the show. Thanks for listening.

@Greg: Thanks so much for checking out the show, and I'm really happy you enjoyed it. Hope you like the movies we discussed, and please be sure to stop back and let me know what you think of them when you have a chance to watch a few. As for Gregamortis, the only thing stronger than his southern drawl is his love for horror! Thanks again for listening.

Thanks to everyone for the wonderful comments. They are appreciated.

Anonymous said...

What I like most about the podcast Mr. Shock is the DVD picks and how you guys come up with the unknown horror movies for us casual watchers. Most horror podcasts just focus on theater horror which is bleh, you guys know it all when it comes to horror movies. Just awesome stuff. -Brutus

Dave Becker said...

@Brutus: Thanks so much for the kind words. I'm glad you enjoy the podcast, as well as our selection of movies. It certainly means a lot to me, and the rest of the hosts as well. Thanks also for stopping by the blog, and for listening to Planet Macabre. Have a great day.

Anonymous said...

Per your Podcast review and by watching the trailer this looks like a decent horror movie. I might have to grab this one sir.

Dave Becker said...

Hello, and thanks for stopping by.

THE HAUNTING is definitely a classic horror film, and I hope you enjoy it. Please be sure to stop back and let me know what you think after you've watched it.

Thanks for the comment, and for listening to Planet Macabre

Anonymous said...

AWESOME episode completely enjoyable-I will be buying High Tension, Inside and even Sheitan-the Sheitan review of all the hosts was so funny and so contradictory I have to find out which one of the hosts I align with.-Vera

Dave Becker said...

@Vera: Thanks for stopping by, and for the kind words about the podcast. I'm glad you enjoyed it. You certainly can't go wrong with HIGH TENSION or INSIDE. As for SHEITAN, I was one of the ones who didn't really enjoy it very much (though I did like it a bit better than Gregamortis and Billchete). Still, I hope you do like it, and be sure to stop back and let us know what you think when you see the film.

Thanks for the comment, and for listening to Planet Macabre.

Anonymous said...

ty for explaining the changes on commenting it did clarify things as i was 1 that wanted to post last episode on a funny thing my mind went blank now what i wanted to say but anyways the podcast is impressive for horror reviews.

Dave Becker said...

Hello, and thanks for stopping by.

Yeah, I'm sorry about the problems. I know how frustrating it can be to have issues posting comments. Also sorry to hear that you can't remember what you originally wanted to say!

Thanks for the kind words about the Podcast. I'm glad you enjoy it, and thanks also for listening to Planet Macabre.

Anonymous said...

i'M the 13tH comMenT on the 13tH ePisOde how cOOl is ThaT!

NoT a BiG fAn of SubS GlAd To heAr sOmE R HarD CoDeD iN EnGlisH.

cOOl TuNe thAt DonNyDrOst Made An alBum oFf hiS SiTe SawEEEt!

Dave Becker said...

13 on #13..that's pretty cool!

I'm also glad most of these films are available in dubbed versions. Personally, I prefer the subtitles, but I know the majority of fans do not, so it's good to have an English alternative as well.

And I'm glad you enjoyed the song (I really liked it as well, and will probably try to seek out more of their music).

Thanks for the kind words, and for listening to Planet Macabre.

Anonymous said...

That was hilarious Dr Shock on the Inside review with the tracheotomy the cohosts asking your opinion on the medical terminology because you are the "Doc" hehehehe

The sciscors that Bill Chete stated about strength was a hoot, got to see that soon 10s woot

Definitely a super episode

Evalinn

Anonymous said...

u were on an island by yourself with frontieres doctor do you still think it is a movie best of the decade for horror?

dittoing the song choice as another commentor, rockish and stylish.

can't wait for the zombies episode with unknown zombie movies.

keep up the fantastic shows they're truly enjoyable.

horror fan remi from texas

Dave Becker said...

Thanks for stopping by, and for the comments:

@Evalinn: I guess that's one of the drawbacks of choosing a name like "Dr. Shock"! As for INSIDE, it's most definitely a movie that you'll want to check out (and yeah, Billchete's scissors comment was a good one). Glad you enjoyed the episode, and thanks for listening.

@Remi: I wasn't entirely on my own with FRONTIER(S) (Hellhunter had a "buy" recommendation as well), but I was actually prepared for a slight lambasting over that pick. One of the drawbacks of putting together (and then presenting in public) a "best-of" list is that your opinions may change. I'd seen FRONTIER(S) twice before, and loved it to death both times. For this most recent viewing, when I had to get a bit more 'analytical' for the podcast, I definitely noticed some flaws that I had overlooked before (and which Billchete and Gregamortis picked up on). I still love the movie's energy and rhythm, and definitely recommend it (as did other hosts...even Billchete and Gregamortis said to rent it), but to answer your question: it would not have made my best of the decade list if I put the list together again today.

Now, INSIDE would make the list, and be WAAYYY up high on it...that movie was all sorts of intense and kicked ass like few I'd seen before. Of course, it was my 1st viewing...who knows if my opinion will change down the road!

I'm glad you enjoyed the song, and I also can't wait for the zombie ep. Thanks so much for the kind words, and for listening to Planet Macabre.

Anonymous said...

Top notch episode once again, I want more Macabre, go weekly!

Wolfy
Buffalo Grove, Illinois, U.S.

Dave Becker said...

@Wolfy: Thanks for stopping by.

I'm pleased you enjoyed the new episode. As for weekly, who knows what the future may bring (wink, wink)?

Thanks also for the comment, and for listening to Planet Macabre.

Anonymous said...

Horreur Bon show J'aime les films français; Translation; Good horror show I love French films; Thérèse

Dave Becker said...

Thérèse: Thanks so much for the compliment (and the translation as well!). It is appreciated. Thanks also for stopping by, and for listening to Planet Macabre.

Anonymous said...

another rock solid horror episode dr and the gang of hosts --- thanks for yet another classic w/ haunting --- going to see if my local mom & pop has the movie

Dave Becker said...

Thanks so much for the kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed the show, and please be sure to stop back and let me know what you think of THE HAUNTING when you geta chance to see it!

Thanks for stopping by, and for listening to Planet Macabre.

Anonymous said...

The Haunting looks like it has that eerily creepy feeling that gets my gizzards. The wife and myself will surely be buying this classic.

Any clues on the 5 zombies movies you will be covering on # 14?

Have a great day.

Rocky
NY

Dave Becker said...

Rocky: Thanks for stopping by.

If haunted houses set the chills running up your spine, then THE HAUNTING is the film for you! I hope you and your wife enjoy it, and please let me know what you think once you've had a chance to check it out.

While I can't really reveal the titles we'll be discussing on the zombie show, I will say the odds are you've never heard of them before (or at least MOST of them)!

Thanks for the comment, and for listening to Planet macabre.

Anonymous said...

Ooooooooooooooh haunted houses doctor are a freaky thing. I liked the amityville reviews way way back and this one is a definite buy. Maybe you guys can do a haunted house theme that would be neato. Rex/St.Louis

Dave Becker said...

Rex: Thanks for stopping by, and for the comment.

That's not a bad idea for a show topic. There have been some very good haunted house films through the years, and to focus on them might just prove interesting.

Hope you enjoy THE HAUNTING, and thanks for listening to Planet Macabre.

Anonymous said...

13 cast was awesome alot of details + discussions. Not fond of subbed movies but I will be getting 1's with the English dub overs.

Dave Becker said...

Hello, and thanks for the comment.

Glad you enjoyed the show, and I know you're not alone in disliking subtitled films. Luckily, INSIDE was one of the ones with an English dub track!

Thanks for listening to Planet Macabre.

Anonymous said...

More great reviews on the episode that covered the Haunting. The podcast is just a great mix of ratings and DVD's.

Chaz
Orlando, FL
Home of Walt Disney World

Dave Becker said...

Chaz: How are you? Thanks for stopping back.

Thanks also for the kind words regarding the podcast. There were some really good films discussed, and I'm glad you enjoyed the show.

Take care, and have a great day.

Anonymous said...

Love the pod cast the classix and the horror category blog. Amazing that peops all over the world can get this as I am from Lithuania. Pacôme

Dave Becker said...

Chaz: How are you?

Thanks so much for the kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed the episode, and thanks for listening.

Have a great day!

Dave Becker said...

Pacôme: It certainly is amazing, as you say. You are definitely the first Lithuanian listener I've met!

Thanks for the kind words, and for stopping by. Thanks also for listening to Planet Macabre.

Anonymous said...

nuther episodie hit on your hands--extremie french stuff--zombies r cumming finaly yay--marvel

Dave Becker said...

@marvel: Thanks for stopping by.

I'm glad you enjoyed the episode, and the upcoming zombie show should also be a good one!

Thanks for listening, and have a great day.

Anonymous said...

Nice + New snazzy backdrop Dr Shock, I can't say I love the commenting now, but hey with the problems you have been having it works.

Finalized the French Horror and it was interesting indeed. Really looking forward to the next episode "ZOMBIES"

Hutch/UK

Dave Becker said...

Hutch: Thanks for stopping by, and for the comment.

I thought it might be time for a change, so I spruced up the wallpaper a bit. Glad you like it! I'm also glad you liked ep. #13, and #14 is shaping up to be a good one as well.

Thanks again for stopping by, and for listening to Planet Macabre.

Anonymous said...

Doing very well sir thanks for asking.

Chaz
Orlando, FL
Home of Walt Disney World