Architect Walter Craig (Mervyn Johns) senses impending doom as his half-remembered recurring dream turns into reality. The guests at the country house encourage him to stay as they take turns telling supernatural tales.
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>
Most of the film was shot through lenses that add a curvature to the walls, making the house seem even more strange. See more »
Near the end, Dr. Markway points to a spot of damage on a tree caused by Hugh Crane's carriage. Trees continuously grow new layers of wood each year. There's no way any damage would still be visible 90 years after the carriage wrecked. 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"
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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