Robert Wise for Argyle Enterprises/MGM
directed by Robert Wise
starring Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn, Ray Compton, Rosalie Crutchley, Lois Maxwell, Valentine Dyall, Diane Clare, Ronald Adam, Howard Lang, Janet Mansell, Freda Knorr, Pamela Buckley, Amy Dalby, Rosemary Dorken, Paul Maxwell, Verina Greenlaw, Claude Jones, Susan Richard
screenplay by Nelson Gidding, based on the novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, music by Humphrey Searle, special effects by Tom Howard
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Professor Markway (Richard Johnson) is professionally investigating
parapsychological phenomena, and now he has found a house that is supposed
to be genuinely haunted ... so he gathers a small group of specialists
- Eleanor (Julie Harris) who is said to have seen a real poltergeist,
medium Theodora (Claire Bloom) and young Luke (Russ Tamblyn), the future
owner of the house, who acts as a sort of watchdog - to find out more
about the haunting of Hill House. At first though it seems the
house is just built to give people a good little scare by being
constructed in a non-rectangular fashion - which keeps people disoriented
- and slightly off-center so the doors seem to be closing all by
It's only in the first night that things start to go bump and scare
everybody out of their minds, especially Eleanor - but it is also Eleanor
who totally insists on staying in the house ... because what the others
didn't know, Eleanor is emotionally unhinged since the death of her mother
(for which she blames herself), has no home (she lives at her sister's)
and no job, and for her this whole investigation thing is the first time
she is doing anything with her life ...
Instead of unlocking the parapsychological mysteries of Hill House,
Professor Markway is slowly exploring the psyche of Eleanor, and Eleanor
soon develops a crush on him, mainly because he's the first person who
shows an interest in her - apart from Theodora, but her interest is more
of a sexual nature, which repulses Eleanor.
Then Markway's wife Grace (Lois Maxwell) arrives and insists to stay,
and since she is not at all into her hubby's supernatural stuff, she
chooses the nursery - considered the most haunted room of Hill House - as
Upon learning that Markway is married, Eleanor becomes even more
unhinged and now thinks the house itself wants her, which makes her
act more and more irrational, even risking her life a few times, before
Markway realizes everything is too much for her and he sends her home. But
even when she drives away she has no intention to leave for home, until
she, trying to evade Grace, who suddenly stumbles onto the street, hits a
tree with her car and dies instantly.
Hill House has claimed another victim, while its secret still remains
A textbook example of a haunted house-thriller: The Haunting
uses next to no special effects (apart from a scene that shows a door breathing)
to scare its viewers, instead intelligently uses sound, camera angles and
camera lenses to make its horror come across - and does so remarkably
well. Add to that an intelligent screenplay that juxtaposes inner turmoil
and outer terror and a decent ensemble cast where nobody tries to outshine
the others, and you have got one classic horror flick.