Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “The Haunting” (1963):
It’s that time. The time the scary stuff comes out. We dress up the pumpkins. We put on someone else’s face. Usually a scary someone like Dracula or Frankenstein’s Monster or a Werewolf or a Kardashian. It’s a time when we really don’t want to go down in the basement. It gets so scary some years we may find ourselves calling for the Ghostbusters. (“Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters.”)
It’s time for a spine-chilling movie. What better spine-chilling movie than a haunted house film? But I gotta tell you. For me, there have been very few haunted-house movies that can measure up to a Big Scare.
“The Haunting” measures up. It was directed by Robert Wise. You mean, the Sound-of-Music, The-Day-the-Earth-Stood-Still Robert Wise. Yes, that Robert Wise. A Robert Wise who came out of the Studio System when directors got to work in a lot of different genres.
“The Haunting” is adapted from Shirley Jackson’s novel, “The Haunting of Hill House”. Nelson Gidding’s screenplay does not deviate much from the novel. It is filmed in black and white, creating an aura that accentuates darkness the house gives off. (Please don’t ruin your experience by seeing the 1999 remake. It’s not good.)
The movie opens with the house silhouetted against the night sky, not an inviting scene. The house whispers to the viewer, “Stay away if you know what’s good for you.” With the appearance of the house, there is the discordant music of a harp and a piano. Then the narration begins. “An evil old house…Whatever walked there, walked alone” Suddenly I realize that it might not be good to watch this one alone.
Then there is the cast. Not your usual horror movie cast. Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn (from “West Side Story” fame) and Lois Maxwell (the original Miss Moneypenny). No Vincent Price. No Boris Karloff. No Christopher Lee. No blood and gore either. Just fear.
“The dead are not quiet in Hill House,” Mrs. Sanderson, the current owner, warns the scientist. He has approached her, asking her to allow him to research the psychic phenomena in the house.
Soon we learn just how not-quiet the dead are. Which makes this one a perfect Halloween movie.
Do you have a favorite Halloween movie?