Combustible Celluloid
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With: Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn, Fay Compton, Rosalie Crutchley, Lois Maxwell, Valentine Dyall, Diane Clare, Ronald Adam
Written by: Nelson Gidding, based on a novel by Shirley Jackson
Directed by: Robert Wise
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 112
Date: 07/31/1963

The Haunting (1963)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Scream House

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Robert Wise's The Haunting is one of the few horror movies that actually scared me. Wise worked with both Orson Welles and Val Lewton during his long and admirable career, and both their influences seem to have rubbed off in this one production. Claire Bloom, Julie Harris and Russ Tamblyn (the latter from Wise's earlier West Side Story) are hired to stay in a haunted house to record what happens, using modern knowledge and technology. Eleanor (Harris), who was hired for having previous ghostly experiences, is the most perceptive of the bunch. Pretty soon, scary stuff starts happening. There are no monsters or ghostly apparitions; it's all done with sounds and ideas.

Screenwriter Nelson Gidding adapted Shirley Jackson's novel The Haunting of Hill House. Davis Boulton provided the rich, black-and-white, widescreen cinematography, which is so much a part of the effect. It was remade, unfortunately, in 1999. Wise's next film was a little thing called The Sound of Music.

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