In 1963’s The Haunting, the spooks scare the living daylights out of Julie Harris and Claire Bloom, huddling together and paralysed with terror while listening to thuds, screams, and gunfire outside.
The infamous Hill House attracts a group of investigators determined to uncover the terrifying truth about the place. But as soon as they arrive, strange things start to happen – something from beyond the grave prowls the panelled corridors and climbs the creaking walls.
It’s a study in psychic phenomena, with the scariest chills heard and implied rather than seen. All you see are pulsating walls and all you hear are loud pounding noises!
Richard Johnson plays Dr John Markway, the researcher of psychic phenomena who brings along two mediums to help him investigate the haunted mansion steeped in spectral phenomena.
Julie Harris shines as Eleanor, the spinster worst affected by the poltergeist events and whose psychological state is cleverly kept in question throughout the tale.
The Haunting looks beautiful in black and white and has some incredible camerawork – those shots of the spiral staircase are a wonderful example. These vertigo-inducing shots give the film an uncanny sense of unease and a vivid sense of style.
The headache-inducing CGI-heavy 1990s remake of The Haunting simply served to make the original look like even more of a classic. Here you had to imagine what might be behind the door . . . and your imagination will always beat a CGI monster.
There isn’t much logic here, but by the time it’s over, you may never turn the lights out again.
Dr John Markway