Review by Bob Ignizio
from 1963, based on Shirley Jackson's novel The Haunting of Hill House. THE HAUNTING is shot in rich, silvery black and white and generally suggests its horrors rather than showing them. By this time Hammer films had already changed the face of horror films by reviving the classic movie monsters like Frankenstein and Dracula with a greater emphasis on sex and violence, and independent films like H. G. Lewis' BLOOD FEAST went even further. Compared to such contemporaries THE HAUNTING may seem old fashioned on the surface, but in its themes and ideas are actually far more modern and adult.
The plot is set in motion when parapsychologist Dr. Markway (Richard Johnson) tries to assemble a hand picked team of researchers with personal experience with the paranormal to investigate spooky old Hill House. Only two of his chosen six team members actually show up. Mousy and insecure Eleanor (Julie Harris) had been caring for her sick mother until her recent death. She may or may not have some king of telekinetic abilities. Her opposite is the confident Theodora (Claire Bloom), who is apparently psychic. The final member of the team is Luke (Russ Tamblyn), a young, devil may care sort who stands to inherit Hill House some day, and wants to make sure no ghost stories keep him from capitalizing on the property. Once at the house, the team members all start experiencing strange phenomenon. The question is, is the house causing these strange manifestations, or Eleanor subconsciously using her telekinetic powers? Either way, it's a pretty spooky ride
There are, of course, those who find the film too subtle to be effective. They say they need to see something to be scared, to know concretely what it is that is terrorizing the occupants of Hill House. All I can say to that is, in the real world, it is far more often the unknown than the know that frightens us. And if any film ever captured the fear of the unknown on camera better than this one, I don't know what it might be. 4 out of 4 stars.