Directed by Robert Wise
Produced by Robert Wise
Written by Shirley Jackson & Nelson Gidding
Music by Humphrey Searle
Photography by Davis Boulton
Edited by Ernest Walter
Cast: Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn, Lois Maxwell & Fay Compton
1963/112 mins/Black & White/DD 2.0
2.35:1 anamorphic/English/NTSC/Region 1
Review from the Warner Brothers "G" rated DVD
"It was an evil house from the beginning, a house that was born bad." The place is the 90 year-old mansion called Hill House. No one lives there. But please do come in. Because even if you don't believe in ghosts, there's no denying the terror of "The Haunting". Robert Wise returned to psychological horror for this much admired, first screen adaptation of Shirley Jackson's "The Haunting Of Hill House". Four people come to the house to study its supernatural phenomena. Or has the house drawn at least one of them to it? The answer will unnerve you in this "elegantly sinister scare movie. It's good fun."
While garnering a "G" rating due to its lack of gore, sex scenes, and absence of profanity, If you are looking for a creepy and chilling horror film then this is one of the best. Robert Wise proves that ingredients like mood, lighting, haunting music and suggestion can be as effective as gore or special effects and proves that a fertile imagination is the most frightening tool a filmmaker has. There is still not a 'ghost picture' made that can match THE HAUNTING for the odd chill it achieves. I've still not found anything to match it. Nothing.
The black and white photography is eloquent and the film must be commended for letting the viewer's imagination take hold. What is NOT seen is what lingers in the viewer's mind - a brilliantly ingenious psychological ghost story. Wise opts to use brilliant camerawork, lighting and getting the best performances from his actors possible to achieve the best effect. Filmed at the Ettington Park Hotel, as well as the Park grounds for the exterior shots, in Stratford-On-Avon, Warwickshire, England, this "house" is far scarier and foreboding than Norman bates' house in PSYCHO. The wide, exterior night shots of Hill House will surely bear this out not to mention the interior views which are just as frightening.
The transfer to DVD is in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and anamorphically enhanced for 16 x 9 screens. While not a perfect restoration as others we have seen from WB, this is a fine disc in spite of the barely noticeable nick or blemish that rarely pops up. This is a fine transfer and the details are quite sharp and clear even in the shadows where a lot of the action takes place. Just to see this in its OAR is worth the wait. The audio is the original mono and while not particularly exciting, it's a perfectly fine track. The packaging has decent cover art and looks good but it the dreaded WB snapper case.
For supplemental material, Warner has given us Stills Gallery that has some nice material in it but is actually a montage that has the fast forward and rewind controls disabled for some reason. You can still use your pause control to study a particular picture at your leisure. Also included are some interesting Production Notes called "Things That Go bump In The Night", Cast & Crew bios., and an anamorphic widescreen trailer. There is no ROM material. The menus are static and nothing special - could have been better.
Last, but not least, there is a new, mostly screen-specific audio commentary featuring new recollections with director Robert Wise, screenwriter Neslon Gidding, and cast members Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson and Russ Tamblyn. This is one very excellent track, very well edited (all the participants have been recorded separately) and filled with great bits of information. Filled with poignant memories, it is an absolute must-listen for fans of this horror classic.
For the first time in a long while I can say here is a movie that's better than the book. This film remains the most disturbing and frightening haunted house film I've ever seen. Watch this and forget about what the modern trend in horror films. Today's horror directors & writers could learn a thing or two about their craft by watching THE HAUNTING. Very highly recommended.
This Film Features:
Review by Brad Vautrinot. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©