For the next movie in the 999 Challenge, I selected The Haunting (1963). I picked this movie for two reasons. One is that I have always heard a lot about it, but I had not gotten around to it yet. The other reason is because I have already watched the remake, so I wanted to compare. It has been a long time since I have watched the remake though, so I will be watching it again shortly. I think I will file it under remakes though, since I can find plenty of other haunted house films to fill my nine movies. Hopefully all the movies I have picked for the challenge actually fit the category. If not, I guess I will just have to find some more movies to watch. I never knew reviewing movies could be such a tough job.
In The Haunting, we are given a short history of Hill House. We are told about the deaths in, or around, the house over the years. Some people think it is the most haunted house around. From there we meet Dr. John Markway (Richard Johnson), who is meeting with the owners of the house, requesting permission to investigate the haunted house with a team. The owners agree, but send Luke (Russ Tamblyn), who is a relative, to be apart of the team. The focus then shifts to the main character of the film, Eleanor (Julie Harris). Eleanor is someone that has a past that mirror some of the events that took place at Hill House. Eleanor has taken care of mother, while her sister lives a more normal life. Now that their mother has passed away, Eleanor lives with her sister, which isn't working out too well. She is looking for a way to get away, and the invitation to be part of this group is something that she jumps at doing. To round out the group, there is Theodora (Claire Bloom). It seems that Eleanor is able to feel things that have already happened, while Theo is able to see into the future. Things go well at first until...well, I will just let you find out for yourself.
I have always heard about The Haunting because it is a film that leaves everything to your mind, meaning that you never actually see anything. While that isn't completely true, it might as well be. The only effect to be found is a door being bent inward. This was done by making a rubber door, which is what I assumed it was, when seeing this effect. People were on the other side of this door pushing on it, giving it the bending look we see in the film. Everything else is just some noises or voices that we can hear, but it is left up to us to decide what they are. I was hoping I would really like this movie. I know it's a classic, considered one by many at least, that leaves things to me to picture what is going on. That is one of the reasons I loved The Blair Witch Project so much. Sadly, I didn't get that same feeling from this film. The only time I felt creepy from things is when Eleanor thought she was still in bed with Theo, and I was under the same impression, and thought someone was holding her hand painfully. Now that was a little scary to me. It is too bad there weren't more things like that, instead of a lot of loud bangs. I also thought the ending was a bit too anticlimactic.
The acting was good, but I was starting to get annoyed with Eleanor. It wasn't the acting, it was just the character. I have a hard time tolerating people that feel the need to vent about the same thing, every time I start to talk to them. Not that I don't care, I just get tired of hearing about it after awhile. Since the character was able to make me feel that way, it goes to show how well the acting was by Julie Harris. Claire Bloom was my favorite here actually. I was surprised at how her character could act so nice one moment, and then say something mean in the next breath. Everyone in this film was good as far as acting really. With a film like this, the acting has to be very good, and it was.
A couple of things I found interesting is that there seemed to be more character development instead of story, and the lesbian overtones that were there. While I would have liked to have seen more character development with the other characters, we did get a lot for our main character, Eleanor. The Haunting gets pretty deep into Eleanor, so that in itself was pretty interesting. I just wish they had found a better way to give us some of that information. The constant voice overs were getting as annoying as her character at times. The lesbian overtones surprised me considering when the movie was made. I know the 1960's are considered a time when there was more sexual freedom, but it still surprised me. It isn't like they were hitting us over the head with it, but it was there. Claire Bloom said that is one of the reasons she decided to play the character of Theo. She was intrigued with playing a woman that was attracted to another woman.
I did enjoy watching The Haunting, but I couldn't get into enough to really love it. Nothing against those that do love this film. I wanted to like it more than I did, but it didn't work out that way for me, this time around. Then again, I am being hit with a head cold at the moment, so maybe that has something to do with it. Sometimes how a movie affects a person all depends on their mood at the time they are watching it. Either way, I'm glad I got to sit down and watch this one at long last. Even though I have other movies in front of it, I think I will watch the remake after watching something from my own collection. That way I can compare a little better, since I will have a stronger memory of this one.
3 out of 5 Wishing I could investigate a haunted house someday
4 days ago