5.9/10
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21 user 11 critic

The House That Would Not Die (1970)

Not Rated | | Horror | TV Movie 27 October 1970
A tale of witchcraft, black magic and a haunted house in the Amish country.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Pat McDougal
...
Stan Whitman
...
Sara Dunning
Doreen Lang ...
Sylvia Wall
...
Mrs. McDougal
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Storyline

This movie centers on Ruth Bennett and her niece Sara Dunning. They move into the house of Ruth's recently deceased aunt and shortly thereafter they learn the house is possessed by two ghosts of the original owners who were from the time of the Revolutionary War. Shortly after arriving Ruth discovers a family Bible hidden in a secret compartment of a roll top desk. Contained within is the name of the original owner which includes the name of his deceased wife and also a name that has been crossed out in ink. As the movie progresses we learn the identity of this person and the reason for it being obliterated through the possession of niece Sara and Pat McDougal. Written by Kelly E.F. Wiebe <senhue@mts.ca>

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Horror

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

27 October 1970 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das Geisterhaus  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Based on the Novel by Barbara Michaels, Ammie Come Home. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Evil Breed: The Legend of Samhain (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A brilliantly acted ghost story with an excellent climax
21 November 1999 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

For those of us who love intelligent horror films (a very rare genre indeed), this is very high up on my list of 10 best ghost stories [cannot decide between this and 13 Ghosts, The Innocents, the Uninvited, the Haunting (the orginal not the recent remake), A Matter of Life and Death, and the House Where Evil Dwells]. Intelligent ghost movies hardly ever happen on US TV or cinema (only the British really understand ghosts!) but to have a really well-thought out script, great characters and a writer who actually understands the occultism of ghosts coupled with a small cast of superb actors - well, what more can anyone ask??

Stanwyck was at her acting peak in the 60s having developed her characterisation of the ideal mature woman - strong, intelligent, well-spoken, charming and able to rise to any occasion. She is always enchanting to watch being one of those master craftsmen (like Katie Hepburn) able to create a scene and simply hand it to the other actors, not unlike the dignity and grace in the lost art of serving tea. Ruth becomes increasingly disturbed by strange sounds in the house until one night she is attacked by her normally gentle niece who appears to be sleepwalking. Despite the gentle mocking of her neighbor Pat, Ruth is determined to get to the bottom of this.

The suspicion that the house is haunted leads to a seance by a local psychic whose initial enthusiasm for the old house turns to overpowering fear. The much underrated Kitty Win plays her niece Sara who becomes very convincingly possessed as a result of the seance and the psychic manifestations in the house increase (both of which is a little known danger of genuine seances). But Ruth will not be outdone and in uncovering the history of the occupants of the house begins to piece together the awful truth of a callous murder that took place. But written records only give a version of truth - the real truth can only be told by the participants.

What makes this movie so intelligent is that instead of refusing to acknowledge the possession as real and treat Sara as a nut case, Ruth and Stan try to find out what troubles the ghost by letting her speak through Sara. This leads to a unique story development - Sara's ghost is guarding the house from another more malevolent ghost.

Finally they piece together where the heart of the house is and that to free Sara's ghost there must be a confrontation with this second ghost to reveal the terrible secret which binds them both to the house. This climax is beautifully done and should go done in the annals of movie history for its insight into the occult dynamics behind many hauntings as well as its sheer dramatic power.

If you've ever wondered if there is any power in love or hate, this film will demonstrate it. If you think Bruce Willis' The sixth sense is a great film (it certainly is!), you'll adore this film!


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