The Haunting – UK, 1963 – overview and reviews

 
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The Haunting is a 1963 British psychological horror feature film directed by American Robert Wise (Audrey Rose) and adapted by Nelson Gidding from the novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (We Have Always Lived in the Castle).

The movie stars Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson (The Monster ClubZombie Flesh Eaters; Beyond the Door), Russ Tamblyn and Valentine Dyall (City of the Dead). The film revolves around the conflict between a team of paranormal investigators and the house in which they spend several nights. It was remade in 1999.

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“Overlong ghost story with a surplus of dull chat. A few effective moments – the ‘breathing door’ is memorable…” Howard Maxford, The A – Z of Horror Films

The Haunting relies on precise and unsettling compositions, low angles and unexpected camera moves. Wise shot very little additional coverage, editing in his head and checking dailies as he went, a life-long habit retained from his early days as a film editor. Warner’s 2003 DVD of this MGM film wasn’t bad, but this 1080p, AVC-encoded Blu-ray improves on it in every respect.” Blu-ray.com

“…it sets itself a dizzyingly high standard at the very outset with a prolonged flashback detailing the troubled history of Hill House, the episodes blending into one another via disquieting dissolves that seem liable at any moment to disclose a ghostly face. The film comes complete with a queasily atonal score by Humphrey Searle and a remarkable cast of British character actors. It’s pulverisingly effective as a haunted house picture and a fascinating character study to boot.” Jonathan Rigby, English Gothic, A Century of Horror Cinema

Buy: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca

“A chillingly effective ghost story made all the more scary by Wise’s sensible refusal to make things visually explicit, relying instead upon the horror of the unseen. The sound effects are particularly well done and add immensely to the overall horrific effect.” Alan Frank, The Horror Film Handbook

“We are treated to a flood of reaction shots from the actors so that we can clearly see how scared they are. We only get one special effect toward the end of the 2nd act, but the buildup surrounding it makes it all the more terrifying. And other than some schizoid cinematography, there are no other special effects for the rest of the film, but you’re already in such a terrified state that you don’t care.” The Pitt and the Pendulum

the haunting 1963 blu-ray

Buy: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel was re-issued to tie-in with the film’s 1963 release:

haunting of hill house shirley jackson pulp paperback novel cover

Buy: Amazon.co.uk

Cast and characters:

  • Julie Harris as Eleanor “Nell” Lance
  • Claire Bloom as Theodora “Theo”
  • Richard Johnson as Doctor John Markway
  • Russ Tamblyn as Luke Sanderson
  • Fay Compton as Mrs Sanderson
  • Rosalie Crutchley as Mrs Dudley
  • Lois Maxwell as Grace Markway
  • Valentine Dyall as Mr Dudley
  • Diane Clare as Carrie Fredericks
  • Ronald Adam as Eldridge Harper

Filming locations:

Ettington Park, Ettington, Warwickshire (exterior shots)
MGM Borehamwood

Technical details:

  • 112 minutes
  • Black and white
  • Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

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