Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Haunting (1963)

"The Haunting" (1963, Robert Wise, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) is a silverscreen haunted house story, based on the novel "The Haunting of Hill House".

Four ghost hunters spend the night in Hill House in order to prove whether or not ghosts truly walk the halls. The film is very creaky and I find the mental narration from Nell (Julie Harris); the paranoid, jittery, old-maid character to be less tense and more tiresome. She is meant to be a woman who spent her life looking after her mother and has no life or possessions of her own, but she comes across as an annoying and selfish simpleton.

The other characters are:

Theo (Claire Bloom) the glamourous and confident woman.

Luke (Russ Tamblyn) the next person to inherit Hill House and a disbeliever of the supernatural.

Dr. John Markway (Richard Johnson) a ghost enthusiast and academic.

Before long, the spooky stuff begins to happen; writing on the walls, noises, becoming lost, strange winds, doors opening and closing by themselves, faces appearing on walls and doors seeming to bend inwards at our characters.
The main focus of the supernatural events appears to be Nell who is both terrified and flattered with the attention (having never had so much of it before). She begins to feel a connection to the house, but there's been a sad history of deaths connected to the building and the others are reluctant to give her her way.

The set up of the movie is elegantly portrayed, the story of the house being built, the tradgedies which befell it and the young girl who grew old and bitter in it are well played out.

The special effects for this movie are good for the time! I especially like the door which the ghosts push against.

This is one of the few black and white movies (which weren't monster movies or mad scientist movies) where there really are ghosts, although you don't see much naturally.

Only a movie for real enthusiasts or nostalgics as it's quite long-winded and boring at times.

[Picture: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer]