The Haunting (1963) Nick Burton Film & Screenwriting

videocam The Haunting (1963)

reviewed by Nick Burton

Published in Issue No. 17 ~ October, 1998

Believe it or not, the scariest film of the 60’s is this G-rated film made by Robert Wise, who brilliantly puts his training as an editor for Orson Welles and a director under producer Vial Lewton at RKO to use. Based upon Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, spook hunter Richard Johnson goes to a New England mansion with spinster Julie Harris, chic lesbian psychic Claire Bloom and martini-swigging swinger Russ Tamblyn to investigate the house’s evil past.

Filmed in gorgeous black and white Panavision photography (try to see it on laser disc rather than tape, as almost half the original framing is completely lost with that format), this is the kind of film that evokes chills with its white knuckle moments, like when whatever it is that is just outside the door starts banging on the wall, or when Julie Harris grasps a hand in terror she believes to be Bloom’s (it’s not). Tamblyn’s wise cracking may not have aged well (horror films since the 1930’s have an annoying habit of having terrible comedy relief), but I dare you to watch this alone … with the lights off.

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Nick Burton lives in Newport Beach, California. His fiction has appeared in many small press and web publications, inlcuding: Chronicles Of Fiction, Pauper, and of course Pif.