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Dr. Markway, doing research to prove the existence of ghosts, investigates Hill House, a large, eerie mansion with a lurid history of violent death and insanity. With him are the skeptical young Luke, who stands to inherit the house, the mysterious and clairvoyant Theodora and the insecure Eleanor, whose psychic abilities make her feel somehow attuned to whatever spirits inhabit the old mansion. As time goes by it becomes obvious that they have gotten more than they bargained for as the ghostly presence in the house manifests itself in horrific and deadly ways. Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Nelson Gidding's initial concept for the script was that Eleanor had experienced a nervous breakdown and had been hospitalized, and that the house was the hospital, the other characters were staff and patients, and the booms and knockings were the result of shock treatments. The entire story would have been inside the head of a mentally ill woman. However, upon discussing this with author Shirley Jackson (who simply regarded it as a haunted-house story), he decided to backpedal on that idea, but still emphasized Eleanor's crumbling sanity in his final script. See more »
For a scientist, Dr. Markway exhibits an astonishing lack of scientific curiosity regarding the "Help Eleanor Come Home" writing on the wall they discover. He tells Luke to wipe it off the wall, without even taking photographs of the writing or samples of the chalk-like substance used to write it. See more »
Dr. John Markway:
An evil old house, the kind some people call haunted, is like an undiscovered country waiting to be explored. Hill House had stood for 90 years and might stand for 90 more. Silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there... walked alone.
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After finding this gem at the public library's VHS section, I finally received the chance to watch the 'better' version of The Haunting. With what I could recall from reading the original novel (after seeing the modern version), I found this cinematic version infinately better and denser in character exposition than the 1999 version. In this 1963 version, the ending stayed closer to what happened in the novel and that was the definitive moment of The Haunting. I can't say much for the modern version, other than it was an effects film.
What I found original in this 1963 version is that there were some clever uses of lensing effects to heighten the strangeness of Hill House. By adjusting the props in the sets so that they are off by a few degrees, it helps to unsettle the viewer.
I'm hoping for a dvd release so that I can own both versions of the film. In the meantime, read the novel. There were a few details left out.
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