Directed by Robert Wise (USA 1963; 112 min. in English)
On the heels of our last week’s celebration of horror writer Shirley Jackson withShirley(2019 dir. Josephine Decker) and the Susan Scarf Merrell novel on which the film was based, we look back at the adaptation of Jackson’s own most famous novel:The Haunting of Hill House. While other screen versions of the book exist, including the recent much-watched Netflix series bearing the same name, Robert Wise’sThe Haunting remains the most beloved to audiences.
Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, and Russ Tamblyn star as three naive houseguests to Dr. Markaway (Richard Johnson) who invites them to stay in the haunted Hill House as an experiment. Jackson’s psychological, gothic, romantic writing is translated onto screen as the characters become progressively mesmerized by the house and spiral into its trap. A 1963 review of the film said, “The Haunting achieves the best, the basic instinct of any ghost story: terror and the unsettled mind” (James Powers, The Hollywood Reporter). Guillermo del Toro describes Jackon’s Hill House as a mythical monster: “one of the most remarkable feats Jackson pulls off is to make the house a character. It is not the melancholic edifice that hosts the lamia. It is the lamia….the presence of the house as a sentient, physical, spiritual entity of evil.”
The Haunting can be viewed on Amazon Prime