31 Days of Halloween #26 The Haunting inside…
The Haunting (1963) is somewhat of an acquired taste at this point, but you can’t deny the effectiveness of the atmosphere and the hidden meanings. This is a movie in the vein of House on Haunted Hill, except without Vincent Price creeping everybody out. Richard Johnson does well enough narrating our adventure and guiding our wayward cast of innocent ghost seekers. They all visit Hill House in search of the supernatural, where Dr. Johnson investigates with tongue in cheek. Is it really the people he’s investigating?
The camerawork is one notable thing about this movie, as the shots give a glimpse of the surroundings with strange angles and odd zooms. The movie is cluttered with all things old-fashioned, like clocks, oriental carpets, gargoyle heads, and statues of all kinds.
Julie Harris puts on a good performance but the script is old-fashioned and paints her as a tired housebody. I don’t like the voiceover and the inner monologue of her character, because I think it spoils too much by filling every scene with too much dialogue. The stillness and silence doesn’t last long enough, I think.
The one scene that does work is toward the end, as Johnson and the others are sleeping in the foyer. The Young Man opens the door and goes to get a drink. As he stands at the fireplace, the door slams closed. It’s pretty simple. Later, the cast stands around Agatha Christie style as they listen to the house creak and groan. The door surges and creeks, as it bulges to open.
Overall, this is an odd movie. It’s really about the internal struggle of a shy woman and her inability to cope with other people. There’s some other allegorical meanings thrown in there about class and gender differences, but the overall story centers around the descend of Nell into madness. I guess that’s why the monologues and the personal narration is essential to the story, because she really represents a patient at an insane asylum. The banging and noises are the treatments going on around her. She seems to be dreaming everything else, as her fantasy is to have something interesting happen to her. In the end, I’d say House on Haunted Hill is more fun than The Haunting, but the latter is way more serious than anything William Castle could dream up. The deep meanings and the dark undercurrents are a plus.
31 Days of Halloween 2016
31. Young Frankenstein (1974)
30. Jason X (2001)
29. Cloverfield (2008)
28. The Monster Squad (1987)
27. Bad Moon (1996)
26. The Haunting (1963) – This post
25. Splinter (2008)
24. Frenzy (1972)
23. Aggression Scale (2012)
22. The Exorcist III
21. At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1963)
20. Silver Bullet (1985)
19. Joy Ride (2001)
18. Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
17. The Funhouse (1981) by Tobe Hooper
16. Videodrome (1983)
15. Re-Animator (1985)
14. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
13. Cube (1997)
12. Evil Dead
11. Day of the Dead (1985)
10. Tales of Halloween (2015)
9. They Live (1988)
8. The Innocents (1961)
7. Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
6. Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)
5. I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle (1990)
4. Hatchet (2006)
3. The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
2. Halloween II
1. Silence of the Lambs