IMDb > The House That Would Not Die (1970) (TV) > Reviews & Ratings - IMDb

Reviews & Ratings for
The House That Would Not Die (TV) More at IMDbPro »

Write review
Filter: Hide Spoilers:
Page 1 of 2:[1] [2] [Next]
Index 20 reviews in total 

23 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

A brilliantly acted ghost story with an excellent climax

Author: Bob-274 from Australia
21 November 1999

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!

Was the above review useful to you?

16 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

One of the all-time great ghost stories.

Author: Phill-13 from Anderson, Indiana
1 April 2001

The house That Would Not Die is one of the all-time great ghost stories ever filmed. In fact, the only thing wrong about it is that it's total running time was only about 75 minutes to fit into a 90-minute time slot. It should have been a full ninety minutes or longer and released to theaters. Ruth Bennett (played by the great Barbara Stanwyck who hands off scene after scene to her younger co-stars to let them shine in their own right) inherits a centuries-old house built before the Revolutionary War, in the Amish Country of Pennsylvania. The original owner, General Douglas Campbell, was suspected of collaborating with the British during the war. His daughter, Amanda (Ammie) and her boyfriend, American Soldier Anthony Doyle, confront him, and they disappear shortly after, ostensibly eloping. For the rest of his life, Old General Campbell roams the countryside calling: "Ammie, come home!", a cry heard two hundred years later by Stanwyck and her young niece, Sara Dunning (played by the pretty and very talented Kitty Wynn, after they move into the house. Aided by Stan Whitman (played by Michael Anderson, Jr., another very talented actor), and Professor Pat McDougal (played by another great actor, Richard Egan) they endeavor to discover the reason why the general is still searching for his long-lost daughter after two hundred years. The resolution and climax of this exciting ghost story will have one and all riveted to the edge of their seats, especially if properly viewed at midnight, Saturday night, during a thunderstorm with howling winds and crashing thunder.

Was the above review useful to you?

14 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

A High Class Made For TV Thriller-I HAVE THIS VIDEO

Author: marianna1776 ( from Huxley, Iowa
3 April 2004

NO SPOILERS HERE! First off, the cast is superb!I am a huge fan of Barbara Stanwyck, and Richard Egan.Richard Egan was very effective in this role, he was downright scary and menacing! I love the setting for this movie.The writing is excellent, and so is the acting. I thought that this was a very intelligent movie.This movie looked like they spent a goodly sum of money to produce, considering that it is a made for tv movie made in the early 1970s.I have to say, why can't Hollywood make superb thrillers like this for the small or large screen. The beauty of it is, no blood and gore!If you like wonderful acting, excellent writing, and a movie that you can watch with your family,you have to see this little gem.I have this video, if you are interested,please contact me by my e-mail address.

Was the above review useful to you?

12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

I was 14 when I saw this and for weeks wouldn't go into our basement!

Author: Murray Melander from Seattle, Wa.
9 April 1999

Back in the late 1960's and through the early part of the 1970's the occult became an extremely popular subject for TV and movies. ABC was making "Movies Of The Week" that appeared usually on a Wednesday night. This was one of them. This one involves a haunted house which was recently bought by Barbara Stanwyk and soon she with the help of family and a helpful neighbor Richard Egan try to get to the bottom of things. Literally.

I was 14 when I first saw this and for weeks I wouldn't go into our basement. Don't watch it alone!

Was the above review useful to you?

13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Good, but the book was better

Author: carmi47-1 from United States
4 July 2005

The House That Would Not Die is a solid TV-film that could have been stronger had screenwriters stuck closer to Barbara Michael's excellent supernatural suspense novel, "Ammie, Come Home." Michael's story is set in Washington, D.C.; Ruth, a Department of Commerce official, has lived in a Georgetown row house for some years after inheriting it from a distant cousin. There is no ghostly presence until Ruth's niece Sara moves in with her to attend a nearby university. Sara first hears a voice in the night calling "Ammie, come home," but aunt & niece decide it's a neighbor calling a lost pet. When Ruth meets one of Sara's professors, the adventurous son of a famous Washington hostess (a character based on Marjorie Merriwether Post), the ghostly presences intensify & become violent. By using entries in the family Bible and searching old newspapers & archives, the 4 major characters (Ruth, the professor--who becomes her love interest--Sara & her boyfriend) piece together the tragic tale of the house's original builder & his daughter, Amanda. During the Revolution, Amanda's father was a royalist but Amanda fell in love with a young officer in the American army. When her father discovered they were about to elope, he killed them & buried the bodies in the basement of his house. He lived there as a recluse until he was killed when the house burned. Relatives (Ruth's ancestors) inherited the land & built a new house, never knowing what had happened. After young Sara moved in, the spirits of Amanda & her father began to re-enact their tragedy endlessly. It is the disembodied voice of Amanda's lover calling, "Ammie, come home."

Why the writers moved the film to Amish country in Pennsylvania is a mystery, unless they figured in 1970 Washington had enough problems & didn't need any more ghosts. Having Ruth occupy the house only as the film begins robs the novel's story line of a major point: that Ruth had lived there for some years with no sign of supernatural activity. The sudden appearance of a voice crying in the night is, in the novel, an unexpected, vaguely ominous occurrence,which Ruth & Sara assume is a neighbor. That there are neighbors in Georgetown highlights a second point in the novel that is weakened by the shift to Pennsylvania: a setting in highly civilized, urbane Georgetown makes supernatural events seem even more incongruous with everyday life than the film's rural setting in Pennsylvania, where the house's isolation, like Hill House in "The Haunting," seems to invite every ghost within shouting distance. (Why are these houses always 'way out in the country?)

Despite inferior adaptation from the novel, performances & production values in The House That Would Not Die are exceptional in every way. Stanwyck & Egan are physically perfect for the characters described in "Ammie, Come Home." As the at-times-possessed Sara, Wynn must portray not only that modern young woman but the long-dead Amanda too, and she does a very solid job. Her boyfriend is portrayed by Michael Anderson Jr., who does not resemble the tall, slim, dark character in Michael's novel, but plays the role well. All things considered, this is a worthwhile TV-film that will repay a viewing. But don't deny yourself the chance to read the book.

Was the above review useful to you?

9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Ruth Bennett (Barbara Stanwyck) inherits a haunted house, and together with her niece and friends, attempts to solve the mystery of the house's dark history.

Author: jimmerp123 from United States
31 March 2008

I just bought this movie since not seeing it for many years, and I must say that it still holds my attention and is an excellent old-fashioned ghost story. I love Barbara Stanwyck in anything she does so I might be prejudice, but she is supported by an excellent cast and the story holds up even today. In this age of graphic violence and blood in movies, it is so refreshing to revisit one of my favorite horror films. The film itself is very atmospheric with genuine thrills and chills. My favorite horror film is the original "The Haunting," but this ranks in my top ten. I did read the book by Barbara Michaels(Elizabeth Peters) and enjoyed it thoroughly - and I must say that I wish the film had stuck more to the book's storyline - but all in all I was pleasantly surprised that I still like "The House That Would Not Die."

Was the above review useful to you?

7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

suspense withstands time

Author: Kelly E.F. Wiebe ( from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
6 July 2003

I've had the chance to view many of the movies I saw as a youth and have found that many of them have not withstood the test of time. This is not the case with "The House That Would Not Die" I saw this movie of the week when I was ten years old and can remember enjoying it. The next time I saw it was when I was 17 and again I enjoyed it. Twenty-two years later, in 1992 I was able to record it when it was shown on TBS. I found the movie very enjoyable. Especially considering the fact that it was made for TV. The only visual effects applied was that of character overlay. If only I could see and compare this with another movie of my youth - The Norliss Tapes (1973).

Was the above review useful to you?

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

those shivers down the spine

Author: christopher-underwood from United Kingdom
28 January 2013

Somewhat uneven and even at only 80 minutes begins to outstay its welcome. But I don't wish to be too harsh for there is a marvellous performance by Barbara Stanwyck which helps to hold this together and if only Richard Egan could have been half as good this might have a been a great picture. It's a TV movie with minimal budget but even without special effects the possession scenes are most effective.

This starts as a haunted house movie but swiftly moves into the possession business and in these scenes Egan acquits himself well and Kitty Winn (who would have a role in The Exorcist three years later) is particularly good and indeed is the main reason for those shivers down the spine more than once during this modest but successful little film.

Was the above review useful to you?

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Very Clever, Old Fashioned Ghost Movie

Author: bayardhiler from United States
15 October 2012

Recently I had the good fortune of coming across an old ABC movie of the week called "The House that would not Die", starring the always talented Barbara Stanwyck. In the movie, Ms. Stanwyck and her niece buy an old, charming house in the country, thinking that they have found their dream home. However,as is always the case in these films, strange things begin to happen, such as disembodied voices, bizarre wind gusts that seemly appear out of no where, and Stanwyck's niece, Sara, begins acting as if someone or something has taken her over. The result is a well done ghost film that relies on creating a spooky atmosphere rather than any gore or violence. Such a shame that television does not have more movies like these anymore. God, how I miss the age of the miniseries. If you get a chance, check this out on you tube. We won't be disappointed. 9 out of 10.

Was the above review useful to you?

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Never Fear, Babs is Here!

Author: Putzberger from Chicago IL
26 January 2013

As any fan of classic film and cheeseball TV knows, Barbara Stanwyck was one durable dame. The woman who conquered the corporate world in 1933's "Baby Face" and blasted gun-toting outlaws on "The Big Valley" is more than a match for the wind machines and bad actors who challenge her in this cheapo 1970 made-for, which is why it's ultimately not that scary or suspenseful. It's also hampered by a cobwebbed ghost story plot -- a maiden aunt and her dewy young niece move into an old house only to learn (oh no!) that it's haunted. Still, it's always fun to hang out with Babs, so "The House that Wouldn't Die" isn't a complete waste of time. It's like decaffeinated coffee, a short, mild indulgence that won't keep you awake at night.

Miss Stanwyck plays Ruth, a career Washington bureaucrat who takes a sabbatical (Civil Service rules must have been a lot more relaxed during the Nixon administration) and moves to a late distant relative's house near where her fluttery niece Sarah, played by Kitty Wynn, plans to attend college. If Stanwyck is above this sort of downmarket Gothic, Wynn is perfect for it since she seems born to play wide-eyed, helpless young ingénues -- the only time her voice rises above a quivering whisper is when she screams, which she does enough to wake the dead. The dead, however, don't seem to appreciate the intrusion so they start possessing various characters and making them act homicidal. Having apparently exhausted the budget on Babs' salary and nifty wardrobe (the cranberry pantsuit she dons toward the end of the flick is particularly chic), the producers could only afford a single special effect -- a megawatt wind machine which gets switched onto high every time one of the undead makes an appearance. This motif is a bit too indicative, but it's also the only way you'll know that Richard Egan, who plays Babs' romantic interest, has transformed from gentlemanly anthropology professor next door to malevolent spirit. His facial expression doesn't change otherwise. Rounding out this intrepid quartet is someone named Michael Anderson Jr. as Professor Egan's swishy grad student and Kitty's chaste love interest. The movie could be unwatchably dull but isn't, thanks to Babs' stalwart presence. However, it could be atmospherically creepy but isn't, thanks to Egan's granite stiffness and a script that sounds like it was penned by the "Scooby Doo" staff during a prime time writers' strike ("try and open up this old writing desk . . . these things are usually crammed with old letters and papers" declares Babs, perhaps unaware that she's channeling Velma Dinkley). Still, Miss Barbara Stanwyck offers a primer on how to maintain your dignity during the twilight of your career. Someone should have forced Bette Davis to watch this movie.

Was the above review useful to you?

Page 1 of 2:[1] [2] [Next]

Add another review

Related Links

Plot summary Ratings External reviews
Plot keywords Main details Your user reviews
Your vote history