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Monday, October 1, 2012

Halloween Movie Marathon--The Haunting

The 1963 version of The Haunting, based on Shirley Jackson's novel The Haunting of Hill House, is one of the scariest movies I've ever seen. And yet ... it's all done with dutch angles and music and suggestion. (That was not true of the remake from 1999. I was working at DreamWorks at the time the remake was released and we were shown the trailer during one of our story meetings. The trailer line was, "Some houses are born bad." I laughed out loud, was not the reaction they were looking for.)
I am a big, big fan of the novel, which I believe is flat out the best haunted house story written in the 20th century. If you haven't read it, give it to yourself as a Halloween present. It's a fast read and available used online at a zillion places.  And any reasonably stocked library should have it on their horror shelves as well.
the movie stars Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Russ Tamblyn, and Richard Johnson as the paranormal researcher. Of the four, Johnson had the lowest profile. He was a theater actor who'd mostly done television in England. (He's still working, and had a multi-episode arc on MI-5.) Russ Tamblyn had had a huge hit in West Side Story two years before this movie came out, but he worked mostly in television after that. (One high-profile gig was his role on Twin Peaks.) Julie Harris was a well respected stage actress whose breakout role had been recreating her part in A Member of the Wedding.  She was also in East of Eden and Requiem for a Heavyweight, playing "good girl" ingenue roles.  Like Tamblyn, she then divided her time between television and features and theater. (She was last on-screen in 2009.)
The movie is in black and white, and the lighting is moody and creepy. It was directed by Robert Wise, who also directed the classic The Day The Earth Stood Still, West Side Story, The Sound of Music, and the first of the Star Trek movies.
If you're putting together a night of Halloween movies, this movie should be in the mix.

3 comments:

  1. Who knew that a DOOR could be so scary?

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  2. This is one of my favorite scary movies of all time. I STILL get freaked out by that door bending inward (I think it's figured prominently in a few of my scarier nightmares).

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