Thursday, November 10, 2011

Review: The Haunting (1963)

IMDb Synopsis: Dr. Markway, doing research to prove the existence of ghosts, investigates Hill House, a large, eerie mansion with a lurid history of violent death and insanity. With him are the skeptical young Luke, who stands to inherit the house, the mysterious and clairvoyant Theodora and the insecure Eleanor, whose psychic abilities make her feel somehow attuned to whatever spirits inhabit the old mansion. As time goes by it becomes obvious that they have gotten more than they bargained for as the ghostly presence in the house manifests itself in horrific and deadly ways.

When it comes to horror movies, ghosts and/or haunted houses are usually popular topics. Some ghost stories are just awful, while others are fantastic. Fortunately, The Haunting is part of the latter.

One of the things I love about classic horror films is that they (for the most part) rely on imagination to scare you, unlike today's horror films which are usually filled with gore. This film is scary in the psychological sense, which is what makes it so terrifying. An example: Nell (Jullie Harris) and Theo (Claire Bloom) are in their room when Nell hears noises outside of the bedroom door, causing Nell to grab Theo's hand. Nell starts screaming and wakes up Theo, who was asleep on the other side of the room and was obviously not the one holding her hand. There are many scenes like this one in The Haunting, but I found this one by far to be the most frightening.

Overall, The Haunting contains no blood or monsters, but it still remains to be utterly horrifying even forty-eight years after it's release. Don't skip this one.

5/5 stars


  1. (Confession: I just watched this for the first time last week.)

    I liked The Haunting well enough, and found the widescreen compositions and sound design to be highlights. Unfortunately, I really, REALLY didn't like Julie Harris' performance, a shrill, hammy distraction that mars an otherwise brilliant movie.

  2. Ugh, I started watching this one then someone deleted from my DVR :/
    Excellent review though, I absolutely love your site. Trust me, you'll be seeing a lot more of me in the future! Plus, It's a Wonderful Life is my favorite movie of all time, so seeing that pic at the top of your site makes me so happy!

    Btw, I commented on your blogathon post, I have never attended one and would love too!