Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Haunting (1963)

College Professor wants to do research into the paranormal. Specifically, he wants to study a haunted house. So he hires a couple hot research assistants and sets up shop inside the most haunted house in New England: Hill House. Nephew of the owner tags along for fun.

So, in they cart their expensive research equipment. No inferred cameras and motion sensor, but good stuff none-the-less. No, there aren't any tape recorders or thermal detectors either. Basically, he brings in blank sheets of paper. There, his highly trained staff ply their trade. Well, actually, the only qualification they seem to have is ignorance of the house and a willingness to work cheap. And, come to think of it, I never see them writing on that paper. So much for a well thought out experiment.

So, our ingenue protagonist is young Nell (Julie Harris, 38). She's never been out on her own before and seems to come chuck full with her own baggage. The other assistant is worldly Theo (Claire Bloom, 32). She likey Nell. At least as much as 1963 Hollywood would allow. Their fearless leader is Doctor Markway (Richard Johnson, 36), hunky married man. Russ Tamblyn plays nephew Luke. He don't believe in ghosts.

Well our gang has pleasant conversation, creepy things happen, Nell falls for Doctor, Nell argues with Theo, really creepy things happen, Nell goes insane, and they all live happily ever after. Except the people who die.

The Haunting is a very respected horror movie. A quick search of IMdb for keyword Haunted House and Horror Movie, it ranks sixth all time (right behind Zombieland, go figure). I had high hopes. I wasn't too disappointed, but it failed to live up to it's reputation. It wasn't very creepy, the ending was weak, and the history of the house was never fully explained. Still, it earns a respectable AMRU 3. Maybe I'll read the book.
"The dead are not quiet in Hill House."

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