Wednesday, October 2, 2013

1963 - THE HAUNTING, an excellent horror film,

The Haunting is a very faithful adaptation of Shirley Jackson's excellent short novel, The Haunting of Hill House.  The director Robert Wise and the screenwriter Nelson Gidding meet with Jackson prior to filming to confirm various plot points and character interpretations.  I've read the Jackson book and will testify to the fact that this film is  a very faithful version of a very creepy novel.

It's commonly known that Robert Wise got his start working with Val Lewton's low budget horror film team at RKO studio in the 1940's.  The Lewton influence is very strong throughout the film, with sounds and shadows used to scare the crap out of an audience.  Wise was also a talented filmmaker in his own right and brought a very professional polish to the film with his cinematographer who shot at times with infra red film and his production designer who added ceilings to the set for a claustrophobic feeling.

Wise  carefully cast the film.  Broadway actress Julie Harris is extremely good as Eleanor Lance  who is being chased by ghosts and also suffering from a few mental problems of her own.  It's fairly common knowledge that Claire Bloom was playing a lesbian in this film.  British actor Richard Johnson is the professor looking for signs of ghosts and finds out he's way over his head at Hill House.  The first time a saw this film I thought the dancer Russ Tamblyn kind of messed with the mood of the film but now he seems like necessary comedy relief in a film with is very intense almost from the beginning to the end. 

The Haunting is a superior film in a genre with is usually more silly than supernatural.

114 minutes

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