The Haunting, American/UK movie (1963)

Hello fellow creatures that go bump in the night! (Erm…sorry got carried away there for a moment). This is the first review to kick things off for the Science Fiction & Horror movie theme month, and it was requested by the amazing blogger Vinnieh. Now Vinnieh stumbled across my blog first, and said a few simple words on my about page ” I really dig your blog”. This was the start of a true friendship that continues to this day. If you don’t know Vinnieh or his blog yet, you are really missing out on something. His knowledge of movies is incredible, and he writes reviews for both modern and classic movies in pretty much any genre. Not just any reviews though, but with a skill that far surpasses my own. They are always a delight to read, and it’s been a blast exchanging comments with him about our mutual love of movies. So, please if you haven’t already do go and check out his blog and leave a comment. I know he will appreciate it. Vinnieh my friend, this review is for you!

The review

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Seriously, some kids just give me the creeps.

With this review of The Haunting I am heading into some uncharted territory as this film is now the oldest movie to date, that I am writing a review for on my blog. Moviemaking has changed so much over the past few decades. Where modern films these days are filled with special effects, in the old days most of these things were simply not available. And that’s why a lot of people of the modern moviegoing generation, are quick to dismiss a classic movie. They either don’t enjoy the lack of color or find the style of filming and acting just not that interesting. It all comes down to one basic thing: giving something an honest chance. Because really people, some of the films of the golden days of cinema so to speak, may lack special effects, but more than make up for this by their charm, incredible stories and amazing actors. In short just because something may be old, doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable. Having never seen the original The Haunting (I only saw the seriously bad remake of 1999), this film certainly falls into the category of enjoyable. More than that even.

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Naw…this image isn’t disturbing at all.

There have been rumors about the 90-year old Hill House for years. Some say it is the focal point of all evil, some say it is haunted. One thing is for sure, there have been an incredible amount of disturbing events that happened in or near the house for years. The original creator of the huge mansion, Hugh Crain, built it for his first wife, but before she could even enter it she died under mysterious circumstances. He eventually remarried, but only to have his second wife die as well. His daughter Abigail lived out the remainder of her life in the house, never leaving the nursery until her death. After Abigail’s passing, the house has stood empty for years. Doctor John Markham now wishes to investigate the house, to see if the paranormal events that are supposedly floating around it are true. After securing permission from mrs. Sanderson who has inherited the house, John travels to the mysterious mansion. He is soon joined there by the heir of mrs. Sanderson a young man called Luke and two women that have their own connection to the world of the supernatural, Theodora and Eleanor. When darkness slowly falls, a nightmare not of this world is about to rear up it’s ugly head. John and those with him are about to find out, that some things are not worth discovering…..if they can keep their sanity intact that is…..

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Whoever designed this staircase has a lot to learn about architecture.

Ah nostalgia. This is classic movie making at it’s best. Right from the start of this movie there is one thing that this film does incredibly well: it creates an utterly bone chilling atmosphere that does not let up right until the end. From the first opening shot where you see the mansion covered in shadows and John is beginning his  narrative, you feel this sense of unease. As if someone is looking at you with an intense and menacing stare, but when you turn around no one is there. The brilliant atmosphere is accompanied by some truly disturbing camera angles that at times seriously give you the creeps. There is a shot of Eleanor walking up a spiral staircase in an almost trance state and the way it was shot was just incredibly chilling. One has to take into account that this is a movie that is now 55 years old, which is why it is even more impressive that there are effects in this film that are highly effective. Not to mention that sounds, like for instance an adrenaline inducing thumping, play quite an important role in adding to the eerie atmosphere this film has.

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I really don’t understand why you look so scared. It’s just me your friendly neighbourhood statue.

But a film of course stands or falls with good performances, and on that from the film also doesn’t disappoint. I was most impressed by Julie Harris who played the role of Eleanor. Upon entering the house she is this somewhat uncertain, and nervous woman. But when the film progresses her mind is becoming increasingly unstable, and it is very terrifying to see that unfolding. In fact I would say her performance is almost as creepy as the film itself. Richard Johnson is the voice of reason in this movie, in his role as John Markham. He really has this calm and totally charismatic demeanor in the film and it’s quite easy to see how Julie’s character falls for him. It was also fun to see Russ Tamblyn in this movie, who most people will probably remember for his role as the gangleader Riff from the West Side Story. In The Haunting he provides a bit of the comedic relief, playing the character of Luke. He is pretty much the only one who doesn’t believe in all the supernatural stuff and tries to explain everything that’s happening in a rational way.

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Keep on knocking but you can’t come in!

The Haunting is a movie that is tense and gripping right up to it’s dramatic conclusion. If you were to compare the film to today’s standards of the modern horrorfilm, it might fall short. But I do say might, because we still have a highly effective psychological horror movie here, that is incredibly well made. This is one of those horrorfilms that relies more on not showing things, than revealing stuff. And in my opinion, especially in horrormovies, that is usually much more chilling. There is no blood or gore in this film at any point, so if you only like horrorfilms that fall into the ketchup variety, this one is not for you. However if you enjoy watching classic cinema, or want to try out a film like that, this is one I definitely recommend checking out. Just a warning though: don’t be surprised if you jump up in fright every time you might here a small noise in your own house after watching this one.

I give The Haunting a 9 out of 10 score.

 

 

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77 thoughts on “The Haunting, American/UK movie (1963)”

  1. A vintage classic. I always liked how this one did tell things really well for me. The first was subtle stuff, like the faces in the wallpaper that you being to wonder if they’re always the as part of the pattern. The second is not sitting you everything. When you can hear something outside the room and see the door bend, but don’t know what’s there, is scary. It’s kinda like … If you see a ten foot spider, you could think, “Oh crap! But at least it isn’t a twenty foot spider.” When you can’t see what’s out there at all, you start to think of things even worse.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It really was a great film. I honestly almost could not believe how this was made so many years ago now, especially not considering the way the cameras and effects were so highly effective for this film.
      I have always believed not showing things is much more effective than showing things (unless it’s something cool, like the monster in Predator 😊). But usually that is just way more scarier 😊😊
      That said after seeing this, I kept staring at wallpapers in my room, and jumping at every small noice that I heard 😂😂

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Awww…thank so much sweetheart 😘 Your comments always make me smile 😊😊
      I’m glad you enjoyed reading the review, and it really was incredibly creepy…I keep jumping up at every small noise that I am hearing right now 😂😂😱😱😱
      I hope you will enjoy the film if you get a chance to see this 😘❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah…there are so many great classic movies out there that I really wish people would appreciate more.
        House on Haunted Hill is terrific tooo…I also loved House of Wax…the original, not the remake of course 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome review! This is the kind of horror movies I like. The kind where you don’t get everything showed and explained. I don’t need the monster showed. That’s why I like Alien so much. That is a scary movie. The jump scare movies are silly. Monsters are not particularly scary, you know they are unreal. Gory movies are just gross (but you know I like gore just because, well, it’s violent and bloody. They are not really meant to be scary.) But this movie (and others from that era) scare me real bad. It’s the subtle things. The things that make you uneasy. The things you can’t quite grasp. The psychological aspect of it. I am glad you got the chance to see the original and not only that crappy remake.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Woohoo 🎉🎉 Am very glad to hear that you found the review to be awesome 😊
      I completely agree with you. I like subtle horro better as well. The horror that pretty much creeps under your skin and doesn’t let up…and lets you look under your bed to see if there are no monsters there (and then you laugh at yourself because you find only a dead snail 😂😂).
      Have you seen the Babadook? If you like subtle and creepy horror…that’s the one to go with. Also alien huh? Well….I LOVE Alien, and the sequel Aliens. I have done a review for a comic book collection of Alien, and a book review. But not actually for the movie itself….hmmmmm 🤔🤔🤔🤔Well….as Aliens is my number two all time movie…and it is sci/fi horror movie theme month….and…..Besides the 3 request reviews I still have coming up…I can of course try and fit in a review for this one as well. That is: if I can find some time for it. Maybe you would enjoy a review for that one? 😊😊🤔🤔🤔

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I would very much enjoy that! But only if you have time for it of course. 😊

        Yes I have seen Babadook. That is scary as f… Everything with kids tend to get to me a little extra. Mama is another movie that freaks me out. Not as subtle though but still scary with the kids. And I am a sucker for Japanese horror movies.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well…..for you….I will make some time. I think I will try and plan it for the last week of February (but shhhh…dont’t tell anyone 😜)
        Kids can be very, very scary at times…especially in horror movies. I have noet seen Mama (yet) but I have heard that it’s quite scary indeed. Oohhhh..Japanese horror can be seriously scary; Ringu and the Grudge, nuff said 😊😊

        Liked by 1 person

  3. There is always this assumption that just because something is old it must be dated, especially with horror. Yet what you described is precisely why a film like this will not feel dated, and that is its reliance on the psychological horror than the physical horror. A film like Night of the Living Dead (as genius as it is) might not last as long in a more modern crowd purely because the zombies back then don’t have the same punch or effects the zombies nowadays do. Looking at the design it is noticeable and easy to tell the varying levels of horror nowadays when one compares the Walking Dead’s make up to the Night of the Living Dead’s make up. It was simply an indie film and a different time, still one of the best zombie media though. I have been meaning to watch this film as of late, having watched the dreaded Liam Neeson version first and never really touching this classic. After reading your review though I now know I am grossly mistaken and I should watch this classic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It never fails to put a smile on my face when I see a comment that a review from me manages to convince someone to actually watch a movie. This being no exception, so really thanks for that.
      And I could not agree more. I never judge anything by age, as there are so many great and classic films still awaiting dicovery, and that have withstood the test of time incredibly well. With horror, that usually means the psychological thriller type of films: but quite honestly even in modern horror movies, I prefer watching those to the gory/bloody ones (as much as I can enjoy that type of horrormovie too). This one though…had this seriously creepy atmosphere right from the start, and just felt right. The absolute atrocious remake isn’t even remotely coming near this one.
      I hope you will enjoy the movie when you get around to it. Thanks for your comment 😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a lot of black and white films with me but somehow I become lazy when I think about watching them possibly due to the reasons you mentioned in your post. But once I read what you said, it got me thinking that it does have a very unique charm to it. Therefore I decided to stop being lazy and actually start watching it! Great review btw!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much😊😊 It is something that most people tend to do I guess. Loads of people usually pass on seeing a classic film because the new ones are more attractive (at least that’s what they think anyway). But though some films may be dated, this one certainly isn’t and there are many other classic gems like this 😊😊
      Haha: and good for you: whatever you will end up watching, I hope you will enjoy it 😀😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The first thing that made me say the word, “Whoa, creepy” was that first pic you used; can’t agree with you more… Kids sometimes really give us the creeps XD

    Seriously, this was a fantastic review to start off the month with! It’s true that I usually avoid old movies due to the reasons you just said, but I think I’ll be watching this one and the person responsible for it is you, of course!

    Once again, great job!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First off: thanks so much for the kind words and this comment: really appreciate it. As I just said to Schizoidmouse it always really makes me happy when a review really makes someone want to watch a movie.
      But yeah: my god, that kid’s stare just really was very unsettling. Some kids have just this general creepyness to them. Maybe in reall life it’s a great kid…here though: 😱😱
      I hope if you get to see the film, you will enjoy it just as much as I did. Thanks again for your awesome comment 😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know why but I really find it unsettling to be with a kid of the age gap 8-12. Is something wrong with me? XD

        Ayy you should be proud of your writing skills, I’m sure a lot of people are now intrigued to watch it; I’m Just one of them. I hope it’s much more fun than you said

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha….well yeah I though to at least try and get the tension away a bit away from the creepyness by adding some fun captions lol😊
      But true enough, this was a great film and a terrific choice from Vinnieh. Thanks as always for the kind words!😊

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A very eloquent review, Michel. I’m so happy you enjoyed it. You are so right about the atmosphere being there from the opening flashbacks. For me, this movie is all about what we think is happening rather than what we see. A truly compelling and creepy horror for the ages.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ugh…I’m so sorry Vinnieh…I missed your comment again. They are still not showing up I’m afraid 😢
      I completely agree with what you describe here: it’s the not seeing things that really make this film incredibly creepy, and not to mention at times very unsettling. I’m very glad you recommended this one. It was a joy to see it 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Damn this comment issue. I thought it was sorted but obviously not. I am more than happy to have recommended it to you. The film is supremely chilling in the best way. Hill House becomes almost another character in the grand scope of things.

        Like

  7. Ah…. This movie holds such a place in my heart. Probably one of the 1st horror movies I’d seen. This review makes me want to watch it again!! I’ll have to have a nostalgia night soon! I loke to do this one and ’13 Ghosts’ (1960) are 2 that I try to watch around Halloween every year (I still have my 3D glasses for that one and everything!!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some movies just have that great sense of nostalgia and just never feel,old, no matter how long ago they were made 😊😊 Not seen 13 ghosts yet…maybe I will have a classic movie theme month for my blog this year where I will watch some movie classics Hmmm.🤔🤔🤔🤔

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I think it’s great to highlight movies from a time when they were truly so different to what we watch now. I have been having this drive build in me when I really want to watch more of the older stuff- precisely for the acting and how much more the actors have to DO for the lack of special effects. Great review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I agree. I pretty much love any genre of movies. I can watch classics, along with arthouse movies, blockbusters and horrormovies. It really doesn’t matter as long as it’s done well. And certainly classic movies have a great charm to them, that you don’t find in films these days anymore 😊 Thanks for the comment and the kind words 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Your review makes me want to watch this so badly…I’m not sure if I’ll ever get over my horror movie fear though. Especially supernatural horror. And I don’t know, but creepy children and creepy ladies are somehow the worst. I’ll probably have trouble sleeping for weeks if I did watch it. 😶

    Like

  10. Excellent review! Glad you were able to highlight a classic film. I love a lot of old movies though more from the 30s and 40s. I don’t really do horror though outside of some Alfred Hitchcock. But this one looks well done and continues to receive lots of praise 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much 😊. It was actually a lot of fun to watch such a classic film which was a first since starting my blog (not the first I wached ever mind you). While this is horror, it is more a very psychological horror. It’s certainly scary. But I would classify it even more along the lines of a thriller 😊😊
      But Hitchcock also has some terrific movies. The birds for instance. Terrific movie 😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I definitely agree that it’s so worth giving movies like this a chance- if it wasn’t for my mum pushing me towards older movies (as much as she can 😉 ) I’d probably never have watched any. That said- oh my goodness this sounds so creepy!! I both really want to watch it and am terrified of it at the same time (hehe you’re so right about creepy children) It does sound like it’s incredibly well made- I just might be too chicken to watch it 😉 Awesome review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s probably the same with me. My mother is, if you can believe that, even more of a movie buff than me, and she really encouraged me to with quite a number of older films. I’m glad ahe did as I have seen many gems that otherwise I would never have known even existed.
      This one is terrific…it is really scary, but more from a psychological point of view which is even more scary.
      Thanks for the kind words! Appreciate them!😀😀

      Like

  12. The Haunting may be in black and white, but Glob it looks and sounds so creepy 😀 I can see why Vinnieh suggested it 🙂
    I must remember to give The Haunting a watch, next time I’m in the mood to watch old horror movies. It would make a nice change from watching The Birds and night of the living dead (1968) hehe 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really surprised me. I was going to watch it with this feeling of seeing something nostalgic (and ofcourse it was) but I had not expected it to be so very scary. It’s a great watch and I know you will enjoy it when you see it. It’s certainly a nice change of pace from seeing the Birds and Night of the living Dead 😊😊 I hope you will enjoy it 😀😀

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I watched the first half of the movie once, but I would have had to stay up to midnight to finish it. Also, it’s probably not as good one a horror movie host keeps pausing it for segments and commercials.

    You should review more old movies. This was good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah that really gets you out of the mood of a horrormovie, that is for sure. Especially horromovies that depend a lot on atmosphere. It’s a good movie to continue at some point though 😊😊
      Thank you for the kind words 😊😊 I’m currently working on your post for It…and that’s ofcourse also an older movie, though not as old as this one. If all goes well, I hope to publish ot somewhere on saturday 😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kindness 😊😊 It really was a terrific film…and atmosphere , especially in horrormovies, can make or break a film. Here it really added tot the overall experience, that’s for sure 😀😀

      Liked by 1 person

  14. It’s wonderful to see you review this classic horror Michel. The staircase caption was marvellously witty. As an admirer of many such movies, this is indeed an errie yet captivating movie to date.. Just the solemn, undertone of Dr. John’s narration is enough to give you that feeling of something terrifying to come and then the loud banging in the night and the girls strange voices of laughter are very unsettling which make for a great watch.

    It reminiscences with that of the errie tales akin to Edgar Allan Poe and it works with great disturbances. You’ve written it in such a ‘haunting’ way and it made for an evening chilly read. Mind you, there’s a noise coming from the other side of the door..I best see to it.. ‘whatever walks there..walks alone’.

    Sincerely Sonea

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha….I always enjoy your comments so very much 😊😊
      That’s so true..the instant that narration began…this feeling of creepyness began to crawl all over me. It did not leave me throughout the entire film. Really, really unsettling. I’m glad you enjoyed the read. I was pretty worried when I began writing this review as I have never really reviewed a film such as this..so it was a bit more difficult to write than usual. But to see this comment from you, the expert in classic films like it, really brings a smile to my face 😊
      Thank you so much, and I hope you are doing well..or are at least feeling a little bit better.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your much to kind to think so, though I only know as much as I’ve seen heh. I’m very ill due to the severity of the cancer hence why I am absent for the most part on here but I have tried to mask it in writing. I write when I can though it can be challenging. You certainly did a wonderful job with this review. The poltergeists write ‘I agree’ on the walls.

        Like

  15. Well I’m already glad this doesn’t have any blood or gore in it, as that is something I can’t take. However, it does feel like it will make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end for days 😂
    I think this type of old movie can be enjoyed because of the suspense element, like you said. The atmosphere it conveys and the amazing performances will more than satisfy most true horror fans. However, younger generations who are too used to modern cinematography will probably not enjoy it.
    That said, I think old filmmaking has many merits. They didn’t have the luxury of technology to cut the work for them. They had to be inventive and make things work to their advantage. I almost admit modern cinematography feels lazy in comparison. Most horror movies nowadays only need to hire attractive people with no talent to play roles with no substance and act a script with no soul, and they will make millions in the box-office solely because of all the shenanigans they are able to pull. Mostly for shock value, which I despise. A great story doesn’t have to completely shock me or disgust me to be equally chilling and mesmerizing.
    I’m not sure I’ll give this a go unless I can recruit some friends to watch it with me, all lights on hahaha But your review certainly made me glad we can still appreciate oldies and give them the recognition they deserve.
    One thing I don’t like about old horror filmmaking is how directors used to have no disregard for human/animal rights. Not like nowadays.
    They killed and tortured animals on set, and didn’t think twice about it. They absolutely terrified their actors for days in order to acquire genuine performances and really didn’t care how far they went. That is just unacceptable. Off the top of my head, I’m thinking poor Shelley Duvall in The Shinning and Tippi Hedren in the Birds. I’ve only watched the latter but was really disgusted to learn of these practices afterwards.
    So yeah, I’m glad we evolved, at least when it comes to ethical treatment.
    And sorry for the long rant! But your review really made me think about these things 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha…rant away. I love long comments…so really no worries. I did not know that about the animals by the way. That really is shameful. I think that is why at one point that their came laws thst animal rights groups had to be present during filming to ensure no bad things were happening on set. But I never knew it was this bad though.
      Luckily there are no animals present in this film. As for modern day film making vs the old. True enough. These days a lot of films depend one shock and gore. Very few horrormovies have just this psychological edge to them with of course a few noteworthy exceptions. I’m truly suprised by the fact how cool this movie still is though. It’s really scary and I definitely recommend not seeing it alone and leaving some lights on as you mentioned.
      Hopefully you will enjoy it if you see it and thanks again for your wonderful and thoughtful comment 😊😊

      Like

      1. Yup, but unfortunately they’re still not as effective as they should be… Sometimes money speaks louder and a lot of things are overlooked 😕
        Hahaha duly noted! I’m such a little chicken, I’d die about ten minutes in 😂
        Sure thing, and I hope so too! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Could not agree with you more. I really did not expect that I would love this film so much, but it really was incredible. The atmosphere was genuinely creepy too. Way too creepy at times even if you ask me 😂😂

      Like

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