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 <email@example.com>
Julie Harris agreed to do the film in part because the role was complex and the idea of the house taking over Eleanor's mind was interesting. But she also chose it because she had a long-standing interest in parapsychology. See more »
Mrs. Dudley says she sets out dinner at 6 p.m. and leaves soon afterward, when it begins to get dark. Another scene establishes the date as being October 21. Most of the northeastern US observed Daylight Savings Time through late October even before the Uniform Time Act of 1966; nevertheless, sunset in Boston that time of year is around 5:50 p.m. and could not be more than a few minutes later anywhere in New England. Mrs. Dudley might leave right after serving dinner, but it would already be twilight, and quite dark in such a heavily forested area. 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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Original cut of movie (shown 24/9/03 at Filmhouse, Edinburgh) has several differences from the general release print -
Alternate opening with voice-over by the Mrs Sannerson character in place of the Markway monologue.The titles prior to this scene are slightly different. The 'History of Hill house' scene continues into the meeting with Mrs Sannerson and Markway but in this version, it is Sannerson who is doing most of talking.
The following scene from the general release print of Markway listing his subjects on a blackboard is missing. In it's place is a scene where Theo throws her lover out her appartment and, next to a photo of her lover, writes "I Hate You!" on a mirror in lipstick, looks at her reflection and mutters "I hate you too...". She then receives her invitation from Markway. This is delivered to her by her landlady how requires the excess postage to be paid. Theo already knows this is to be paid and there is humourous exchange concerning her ESP or her 'gift'.
There are several extened scenes involving Eleanor's 'inner thoughts' - most of which tie into her thoughts on her possible relationship with Markway. The scene showing her travelling to Hill house is extended with more 'inner monlogue' material including a couple of shots of her turning onto 'route 238' and commenting on "Journey's end in lovers meeting...".
The Morning/Harp scene runs longer and contains more dialogue from both Eleanor and Markway. This print had a title card prior to the MGM logo - "This print is on loan from the National Film and Television Archive"
There is no blood, there is no slashing, today this would be rated "G." But, this is the scariest movie, ever. Every time I watch this masterpiece (and I have watched it over 50 times), I see or hear something new.
The density of the black and white is incredible. The camera angles and reflection shots are unsettling. The score is appropriately terrifying, from the ringing of tiny bells to the cannon ball rocking down the hall.
The cast is excellent. The direction superb. This is horror at the peak of perfection--it is in your mind. The only thing better is to read the book by Ms. Jackson on a dark night when you are all alone, and "far from town." As Stephen King said about Shirley Jackson, "She never had to shout." Mr. Wise is to be credited with bringing her whispers to the screen.
Rent this for Halloween. Or, own it forever. I still have trouble getting to sleep after I watch this.
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