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The Haunting (1963)

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A scientist doing research on the paranormal invites two women to a haunted mansion. One of the participants soon starts losing her mind.

Director:

Robert Wise

Writers:

Nelson Gidding (screenplay), Shirley Jackson (based on the novel: "The Haunting of Hill House")
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Popularity
275 ( 1,534)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Julie Harris ... Eleanor Lance
Claire Bloom ... Theodora
Richard Johnson ... Dr. John Markway
Russ Tamblyn ... Luke Sanderson
Fay Compton ... Mrs. Sanderson
Rosalie Crutchley ... Mrs. Dudley
Lois Maxwell ... Grace Markway
Valentine Dyall ... Mr. Dudley
Diane Clare ... Carrie Fredericks
Ronald Adam ... Eldridge Harper
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Storyline

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 <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

At Hill House The Dead Don't Stay Quiet! See more »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 August 1963 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

La casa embrujada See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,400,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,616,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Argyle Enterprises See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Martin Scorsese named this his favorite horror film. See more »

Goofs

When Eleanor runs into a room in Hill House, a close-up shot shows a mirror fall off a mantle on its own. However, a wire is visible attached to the middle of the back of the mirror and going through a hole in the middle of the wall behind it. When the mirror falls, the wire goes slack as the wire feeds out of the hole in the wall, meaning the wire was held taut to hold the mirror up on the mantle until it was time to release the wire. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Dr. John Markway: [voice-over] 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.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Andrew Klavan Show: Blaming Harvey's Victims (2017) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Are we talking frightening now?
13 August 2003 | by oyasonSee all my reviews

THE HAUNTING(1963) is an important horror film because it is one of a tiny handful of films within the tradition that genuinely unsettle the viewer. Are the events at Hill House for real, or are they happening on the inside of Eleanor Lance's head? The author of the novel upon which this movie was based, Shirley Jackson, left us to wonder at the end of her story. A constant theme in Jackson's work was the displacement and the destruction of the hopes of women (Most of her work was written in the 1940s and 1950s).

Jackson, in her own intriguingly artful manner, asks us in The Haunting of Hill House to contemplate the domestic prison that many women like Eleanor Lance found themselves in. Eleanor is a spinster, the slightly dotty older sister compelled by restrictive family relationships to care for an ailing mother. She's been nowhere, she has had no experiences, and she barely has social skills. Like anyone else, she wants love, intimacy, friendship, and she doesn't know how to seek them. Naturally, she operates from a place of low-key fury. Julie Harris conveys this so successfully in the film that she actually bounces the viewer between feelings of empathy and feelings of exhaustion. "Why doesn't she make up her mind to go or stay?", we ask ourselves. Eleanor isn't an attractive person, and Julie Harris plays this to the "t". THE HAUNTING explores Jackson's extended metaphor of feminine anger damn near as skillfully as the author presented it on the page. Certainly whatever "walks alone at Hill House" is not such a distant cousin from the Corn Goddess, or other archetypal representations of the understandable rage of women whose lives have been restricted by domestic roles. But how much of it genuinely resonates from that house with its "doors that stay sensibly shut", and how much of it is between the ears of Eleanor Lance, who, even in a crowd, is walking alone, just as is whatever is in Hill House? In creating this book, Shirley Jackson was able to breach the same territory the 19th century feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman explored in her remarkable story The Yellow Wallpaper. And it is no small thing that the cast of The Haunting- Julie Harris and Claire Bloom foremost- were able to recreate on the screen and do this complex novel such justice. Director Robert Wise, who fifteen years before gave us the Val Lewton masterpiece THE BODYSNATCHER, labored diligently to establish the same stifling atmosphere found in that earlier film. Patterns in wallpaper that vibrate with voice, doors that breathe, and that steady, horrific hammering on the walls that chills as certainly as did Jackson's description in the book itself.

Certainly Rus Tamblyn and Richard Johnson do more than pull their weight in this piece, and it couldn't have been easy to play second line to talents like Harris and Bloom. The cast, the direction, the set, everything works in this movie, a remarkable work of harmonic convergence on celluloid. THE HAUNTING is an important film to see because it does what horror films rarely do, it freely explores the internal and takes us all along, and babies, we ain't laughing. But it works. And that's more than can be said for three quarters of the over-hyped movie offerings in the horror tradition. Among U.S. horror films of the 1960s, only PSYCHO and ROSEMARY'S BABY touch so boldly on the unspoken terror in the horror film:a common fear among our spieces that we may be unworthy of love. Are we talking frightening now?


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