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The Haunting

Julie Harris , Claire Bloom , Robert Wise    G (General Audience)   DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 38.10
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The Haunting + The Innocents + The Changeling (Widescreen) [Import]
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A group is introduced to the supernatural through a 90-year old New England haunted house. Be prepared for hair-raising results in this classic horror film!


Certain to remain one of the greatest haunted-house movies ever made, Robert Wise's The Haunting (1963) is antithetical to all the gory horror films of subsequent decades, because its considerable frights remain implicitly rooted in the viewer's sensitivity to abject fear. A classic spook-fest based on Shirley Jackson's novel The Haunting of Hill House (which also inspired the 1999 remake directed by Jan de Bont), the film begins with a prologue that concisely establishes the dark history of Hill House, a massive New England mansion (actually filmed in England) that will play host to four daring guests determined to investigate--and hopefully debunk--the legacy of death and ghostly possession that has given the mansion its terrifying reputation.

Consumed by guilt and grief over her mother's recent death and driven to adventure by her belief in the supernatural, Eleanor Vance (Julie Harris) is the most unstable--and therefore the most vulnerable--visitor to Hill House. She's invited there by anthropologist Dr. Markway (Richard Johnson), along with the bohemian lesbian Theodora (Claire Bloom), who has acute extra-sensory abilities, and glib playboy Luke Sanderson (Russ Tamblyn, from Wise's West Side Story), who will gladly inherit Hill House if it proves to be hospitable. Of course, the shadowy mansion is anything but welcoming to its unwanted intruders. Strange noises, from muffled wails to deafening pounding, set the stage for even scarier occurrences, including a door that appears to breathe (with a slowly turning doorknob that's almost unbearably suspenseful), unexplained writing on walls, and a delicate spiral staircase that seems to have a life of its own.

The genius of The Haunting lies in the restraint of Wise and screenwriter Nelson Gidding, who elicit almost all of the film's mounting terror from the psychology of its characters--particularly Eleanor, whose grip on sanity grows increasingly tenuous. The presence of lurking spirits relies heavily on the power of suggestion (likewise the cautious handling of Theodora's attraction to Eleanor) and the film's use of sound is more terrifying than anything Wise could have shown with his camera. Like Jack Clayton's 1961 chiller, The Innocents, The Haunting knows the value of planting the seeds of terror in the mind, as opposed to letting them blossom graphically on the screen. What you don't see is infinitely more frightening than what you do, and with nary a severed head or bloody corpse in sight, The Haunting is guaranteed to chill you to the bone. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A chilling movie about an evil house June 12 2004
By gac1003
HIll House has been standing empty for almost 90 years. Whipsers of strange phenomena have kept would-be ocupants away for a long time; not even the owners will live their. That is, until Dr. John Markway assembles a small team to invesitgate the supposed supernatural events of the house. He invites Theodora, a psychic who lives a very different lifestyle; Eleanor, a sheltered young woman who recently lost her canterkaerous mother and has had experienece with poltergeist phenomena; and Luke Sanderson, soon to inherit Hill House and acting as the family's representative. Together, they begin to study the house, it's history and architecture. Or, has the house chosen one of the team for its own purposes?
Horror film director Robert Wise does a magnificent job with this adaptation of the Shirley Jackson novel. Very few visual effects are used, instead relying on lighting (the one scene with the wallpaper in Eleanor's room is eerie), atmosphere, sound and the viewers own fear to create a creepingly chilling film. They make the viewer feel like actors in the movie instead of bystanders. All the actors give fine performances: Clair Bloom as Theo, Russ Tamblyn as Luke, and Richard Johnson as Dr. Markway. But, Julie Harris' performance of Eleanor makes the film. Her almost childlike confusion, fear and determination to stay the course keep you enrapt in the film.
It's very refreshing to see a horror film that doesn't rely so much on expensive special effects to get the chills across, instead using acting, lighting and story to convey terror and fright. This is a classic horror film that still delivers to this day.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best horror movie ever made Nov. 21 2001
Format:VHS Tape
"The Haunting" is undoubtedly the best horror film ever made. This is better than anything Hitchcock made, better than anything Hammer made, better than anything else in the genre. "Psycho" looks subaverage and tame compared to this utterly terrifying masterpiece. Parts of this movie will have any sentient lifeform wizzing their proverbial pants and shuddering, spellbound but totally frozen in fear. The character of Eleanor is tragic, sad, and totally believable:the actress gives one of the best performances I've ever seen on the stage or in film. Everything was simply done right with this movie. I would go so far as to say that this movie alone, even though it was made in 1964, is a solid justification for the past and continued existence of horror movies--and there have been far more bad and just objectionable/desensitizing horror movies than substantive and intelligent ones. This surpasses the book, and the book was a classic. One of the most effective, noirish, decadent, fascinating, enigmatic movies ever made.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sustainability Jan. 31 2008
By Debi
I first watched part of this movie when I was 10 (when it first came on TV). I only got to the part where the woman falls down the stairs then my father had to turn the television channel for fear of my hysterical reaction. For decades I thought the movie was called "Hill House". When I finally saw the movie in total it still held the increasing suspense and mystery that makes it a classic. This movie should NEVER be put into colour and is best seen in a basement with all the lights off.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the scarest 60's films in the world. June 28 2004
By Drums
Most people see the remake and won't bother with this one, but this film is really truely pure horror unlike the remake, one of the scarest films ever made, it also tells a classic story of a repressed women and a house that makes her lose her mind, the film is so much more than all of that though, it has all the events timed perfectly as it keeps bulding more and more untill the frightning conclution, If you're a true horror fan give this one a shot, you'll love it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In The Grip Of Hill House No One Is Safe Sept. 6 2003
The original 1960's version of The Haunting, still manages to run circles around the dopey 1999 remake, even though it had little to no special effects or gore. Indeed, director Robert Wise's take on author Shirley Jackson's novel, remains an all time favorite haunted house film of mine. Rather than flood the viewer's senses with what Wise sees as "scary", he allows our fears and imagination of what might be out there to push the story forward. By the time of the big reveal at the end, so much tension has been built in, that the ending is much more effective and satisfying.
After her mother's recent death-and driven by a total belief in the supernatural, Eleanor Vance (Julie Harris) deciedes to join an expedition to explore Hill House, a New England mansion. She's invited there by anthropologist Dr. Markway (Richard Johnson), along with the bohemian exotic Theodora (Claire Bloom), who has extrodinary extra-sensory abilities, and a stuck up playboy Luke Sanderson (Russ Tamblyn) who will inherit Hill House if it is clean of any strange goings on. As you might imagine, strange things start to happen, shortly after the group arrives.
The character's fears (as well as our own) propel the film. The scares in the movie are driven by the mind. Screenwriter Nelson Gidding crafted a fine adaptation, that along with Wise's atmosheric touches, and a fine ensemble, allows for a fun film watching experience.
Happily the DVD has a great audio commentary with Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Russ Tamblyn, director Robert Wise, and screenwriter Nelson Gidding. Each of whom, offer some fine stories about the making of the film and bring a unique perspective to the track. For someone who has been around awhile as a director, Wise still exhibits wit, wisdom, and class, that infects the others as well.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars awsome
its a awesome movie if you like the old movies. its so much better on dvd then vhs so much better.
Published 5 months ago by jennifer
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible masterpiece! A dynamic experience!
Everything of the cinematography brought to create this movie is a top quality and well orchestred!

Please forget the 1997 haunting! The true wonder is right there! Read more
Published 7 months ago by FG
5.0 out of 5 stars Scariest movie ever made.
Although blu ray is an improvement on most colour films, the added sharpness in B&W is about all you can expect of a BR in monochrome.. Still, the version is the best I've seen.
Published 10 months ago by This is not a review it is a comment on Amazon setting ates. Before rendering a review read the book
5.0 out of 5 stars Diving Under the Covers
If you're watching this film for the first time, you'd be well advised to have a blanket handy so you can dive under it from time to time. Definitely not for the faint of heart. Read more
Published 15 months ago by D. G. Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Ghostly Chilling
I watch quite a bit of horror movies. However none seem to frighten me, this one is different. While I was watching the movie I ACTUALLY got scared (which is rare for me). Read more
Published on Aug. 19 2010 by Sarah Filkin
4.0 out of 5 stars A few things you should know about 'The Haunting'
No ghost is ever seen in this film by Robert Wise;
The atmosphere's created by suggestion and surmise. Read more
Published on June 3 2010
3.0 out of 5 stars has some real chills,but could have been shorter
while i thought the haunting was a good movie,i didn't think it was
great.it does have some genuine chills,and is very atmospheric. Read more
Published on Dec 13 2008 by falcon
2.0 out of 5 stars Overrated
It may have been a good movie, it may still be, but it got old. It's a litle bit slow..some good effects with THE DOOR at the end. Read more
Published on Oct. 4 2006 by Eric Simard
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but lacks the depth of the novel
I probably would have liked this movie a lot better if I hadn't read Shirley Jackson's brilliant book first. Read more
Published on May 24 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Overrated bore
Absolute bore. Much better 1960's films are Horror Hotel, Carnival of Souls, and Circus of Horrors. Read more
Published on May 23 2004
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