There is a new TV series on Netflix based on Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House. I’ve watched the first episode and it was good, but the 1963 adaptation from director Robert Wise is way, way, way better.
This movie is fantastic! Dr. John Markway (Richard Johnson) wants to examine a real haunted house. He asks the current owners of Hill House — a notorious house out in the country — if he can conduct an experiment on the place to prove that ghosts exist. The owners agree, as long as one of the attendees is young nephew Luke Sanderson (Russ Tamblyn). Other members of the experiment include Eleanor “Nell” Lance (Julie Harris) and Theodora “Theo” (Claire Bloom).
Nell arrives first at the house and finds herself drawn into the place. She’s had some bad experiences and supernatural occurrences in her past, but is trying to make a new life for herself. She meets Theo, a psychic, the handsome Dr. Markway and Luke. The group explores the house and finds a cold spot. At night, something is banging down the hallways.
Nell feels the house is watching her. They find mysterious writing on a wall that says “Help me Eleanor”. Dr. Markway’s wife shows up and demands to sleep in the most haunted room of the house, the nursery. That night, more disturbances occur and Mrs. Markway (Lois Maxwell) goes missing. Then the spooky stuff really starts to escalate.
The movie is brilliantly shot. There are effects, but they’re very low-key. Most of the terror comes from the sound effects and shadowy lighting.
I love The Haunting. It’s really a perfect haunted house movie. There was a crappy remake in the 1990s but it doesn’t hold a candle to the original. This is a “greatest hits” kind of year for 31 Days Of Horror, and like a lot of films I’ve written about The Haunting before. Here’s my original post. from waaay back in 2009, before Prairie Dog even had a proper website.