The Haunting (1963)
One of the most highly regarded haunted house films ever produced, Robert Wise's The Haunting (based on Shirley Jackson's novel The Haunting of Hill House) weaves the dark tale of a questionably sane young woman and a sinister house which holds a terrifying past. Invited to join anthropologist Dr. Markway (Richard Johnson), ESP expert Theodora (Claire Bloom), and probable heir to the estate Luke Sanderson (Russ Tamblyn) in order to dispel the near mythical tales that surround the house, unstable Eleanor Vance (Julie Harris) agrees to spend a few nights in the house following the death of her mother. As they slowly begin to discover, the horrific and seemingly unbelievable tales may hold more truth than the skeptical guests might have previously expected. With a seemingly unstoppable supernatural force lurking in every shadow, the probability of anyone escaping the evil clutch of the cursed mansion seems increasingly remote. … More
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Critic Reviews for The Haunting
People stare about in terror and squeak: 'The house, it's alive!' The picture, it's dead.
The artful cinematic strokes of director Robert Wise and staff are not quite enough to override the major shortcomings of Nelson Gidding's screenplay.
Pretty effective when it came out; it may be a little stiff in the joints by now, but it's still a much better scare show than the recent stinker remake.
What makes the film so effective is not so much the slightly sinister characterisation of the generally neurotic group, but the fact that [director] Wise makes the house itself the central character, a beautifully designed and highly atmospheric entity.
Borderline perfect... Strip away all of its frightening elements, and the film remains a sophisticated, complex, and tremendously subtle character study.
The horror remains admirably attuned to the sense of solitude in a premature spinster
A dark brooding atmosphere, disturbing psychological insights and a handful of suddenly executed surprises make this old horror as fresh and vital as the day it was made.
An undeniably effective adaptation of the Shirley Jackson novel and remains one of the best haunted-house movies.
...easily ranks among the finest supernatural suspense films ever made.
few filmmakers have drawn fright from nothingness as adeptly as Robert Wise did
Ghosts! And they are unseen, frightening things in this creepy classic.
The scariest movie of its day
To say that Wise's The Haunting is better than De Bont's The Haunting damns the Wise picture to faint praise I fear it deserves.
Don't waste your time on the remake. Robert Wise's original film is the one to see and it's still chilling after all these years.
Audience Reviews for The Haunting
It's Robert Wise so it's not hack but I found this film very uneven. Two powerful actresses completely overshadow dominate over two crap male actors. Unfortunately they men get half the dialogue. There's a lesbian thing, there's and female postponed adolescence hysteria thing, there's guilt over a parent's death, there may be ghosts. Oh and there's a house. Eh, maybe horror's just not my bag.More
The Haunting is a stellar haunted house flick with a great cast. Director Robert Wise crafts a memorable film that has some genuine scares, something that is missing from many horror films of today. The Haunting is a brilliantly acted film with a great cast and it has such atmosphere to create memorable terror. The Haunting is one of the greatest haunted house films ever filmed. Director Robert Wise creates a terrific film, and The Haunting is one of the most memorable, most efficient haunted house films in the horror genre. This film relies on atmosphere to create the horror and Robert Wise has a terrific eye of what makes a memorable and effective horror flick. The cast deliver great performances and The Haunting is a perfect ghost story. Director Robert Wise genius direction keeps you imagination guessing and what the horrors are that lurk in the dark. This is superb filmmaking at its terrifying best, and remains the quintessential haunted house film to watch. This is a masterful horror classic that is still scary after all these years. The film relies heavily on the unseen to create the terror, and it proves that at times you don't need blood or gore to create the terror on-screen. Sometimes all you need is the fear of the unknown, what you can't see brings even more genuine terror than most psychotic mad men. The Haunting set the standard for all haunted house films that would follow. Robert Wise has crafted a must see horror flick, a definite classic of the genre. This film will definitely give you a few good scares. If you want a great atmospheric horror film, then The Haunting is a definite must see. Robert Wise definitely knows how to create effective horror with a dark atmosphere that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. A flawless classic.More
In between his masterpieces "West Side Story" (1961) and "The Sound of Music" (1965), director Robert Wise tried his hand at an old-fashioned ghost story, "The Haunting," starring Julie Harris.
It is spooky. But what really sets it apart is the psychological depth of its depiction of the main character (Harris), a spinster who barely has the courage to leave the house. Because of some childhood experiences with the paranormal, which get documented by the local police, she comes to the attention of a scientist doing research on the supernatural.
He invites her to join a small team of intrepid researchers who move into a supposedly haunted house hoping to conjure up spirits. Boy, do they succeed. Not just are the scary experiences effective, gradually a drama builds around Harris's character, where the house seems to have a special interest in her.
The film is marred by endless speeches from the head scientist, and ultimately it's not much more than a good ghost story. But anyone interested in gothic horror will have a good time with this one. Just don't expect a masterpiece. "Psycho," which was made a few years before, was much better.
The Haunting is the ultimate haunted house film and so much more. I would go as far as saying that it's one of the greatest film-noir too. It represents the last of the great b/w thrillers but also the first of a new kind of thriller/horror. Robert Wise was such an awesome director, this is easily amongst his greatest films, of which there are many. This film is highly influential too, the 1999 remake represents the epitome of what is wrong with the industry today. Watch this film. Watch it now!More
The Haunting Quotes
- Dr. John Markway:
- That proves it: one of you is a witch!
- Eleanor Vance:
- Hill House has stood for ninety years and will probably stand for ninety more. And we who walk at Hill House, walk alone.
- Dr. John Markway:
- You're liable to have that shut door ripped right off it's hinges.
- Eleanor Vance:
- And whatever walks there walks alone.
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