Year: 1963

Director: Robert Wise

Cast:Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn, Fay Compton, Rosalie Crutchley, Lois Maxwell, Valentine Dyall, Diane Clare, and Ronald Adam

The Haunting is just that, haunting.  It is not a slasher.  It is not gory, It has a strong atmosphere.  This is a film that relies heavily on stimulating emotions and getting those little hairs on the back of your neck to stand on end.  It allows the imagination of the viewer to run wild, creating an experience that is uniquely creepy for every member of the audience.
 
It follows a scientist into a home that is apparently haunted.  He brings a small group of people he has hand selected to the home who have had supernatural experiences in the past.  Most of them take the experience in stride but one of the young participants, Eleanor Lance becomes increasingly distressed by the home.  Eleanor Lance is played by Julie Harris whose performance carries this film.  Claire Bloom also stands out at the only other female in the house.  She comes across as simultaneously supportive to Eleanor Lance and at the same time judgmental and condescending.  There also feels like there is a certain tension between the two that is enjoyable to watch.
 
Another element of the film that is especially impressive is the cinematography and the sound design.  This is a film that utilizes the skills of a expert filmmaker to deliver the chills, not gory encounters and CGI like so many films that have been released since The Haunting was released in 1963.  This is a ghost story for those who love the medium of film in the purest sense.  In some respects this strength of the film may also be its weakness, since many modern audiences crave explicit content in horror films.  This reviewer, relishes a film that is able to creep an audience out without simply relying one hundred percent on gore and violence.
 
As a side note, fans of early Bond films will enjoy Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny, from so many of the earliest Bond movies) in The Haunting, who has a key, but small role in the film.
 
Also, fans of the rock band White Zombie will notice a line from the film that was sampled and utilized at the beginning of the song Super-Charger Heaven on the album Astro-Creep: 2000

I’m one of those people who likes to celebrate a holiday for a whole month (or, if it’s Christmas, like….. 3 months). So once October hits, I like to break out my good ol’ Halloween movies. I’ve always tried to add one more to the list every year, but I think I’ve kind of added everything I can think of. I’m a big fan of scary movies that keep things more in the imagination rather that blatantly showing all the scares. Usually, the mind can create something much, much scarier than any director can put on the screen. So, naturally, that leads me to the classics.

The Uninvited
This is probably my favorite horror film. I think it’s the best of the haunted house films, because the ,ystery of the haunting isn’t just random, it’s closely tied to the characters. It makes the story a lot more interesting and you can become more emotionally invested. It’s also a really wonderful combination of ghost story and love story. The Uninvited really is more about the characters than anything else, and it’s how they connect and react to the haunting that makes this movie so great. And it has Theresa Russell, who was a beautiful actress with quite a lot of talent and a unique, kind of serene aura. Unfortunately, personal life drama kept her from achieving the huge success she could have had.

The Haunting
There was a remake of this movie in the 1990s. And it blows. Hard. The original is so good and scary because it’s very ambiguous, and it’s left up to the imagination to decide if the haunting is real, or just in the imagination of the main character. Director Robert Wise creates one of the creepiest and most unsettling atmospheres I’ve ever seen in a film by showing pretty much nothing at all and completely leaving it to our imaginations. It’s really very, very scary. And so much better than the remake, which showed EVERYTHING and left nothing to the imagination.

I Walked With a Zombie
Jane Eyre with zombies. That’s pretty much what this movie is. An updated Jane Eyre with zombies. I don’t like the classic voodoo zombie as much as I like the flesh eating zombies of modern day film, but zombies are cool no matter what. This movie is completely an exercise in atmosphere. That’s what this movie really is. It’s all about the creepy and unusual atmosphere. We, the viewer, really feels like Frances Dee’s character, in this new, unfamiliar, completely strange and frightening world. She gives a really good performance in this, mixing the character’s strength with a palpable fear.

The Old Dark House
This is a light chiller, which at times has a somewhat comedic tone to it. However, even with that lighter tone, it still manages to be incredibly eerie. Director James Whale knew how to direct scary movies (he directed Frankenstein). The house of the title is big, ominous, empty, and genuinely frightening. And Whale knows how to compose shadows and how to light moments and characters for the maximum effect. The house’s story is actually interesting and unfolds in a surprising way that makes things ever creepier. This is a just a really good movie.

All right, I’ve got a lot more movies to go. To Be Continued!

By Katie Richardson