I've always been intrigued by the storyline in The Haunting. However, I had only been familiar with the remake and not this original. I had seen the remake numerous times. Twice in the theater. I wasn't blown away by the acting but instead intrigued by the storyline. Just not intrigued enough to actually hunt down the original. I was pretty wrong. This is far less clunky than the remake. It fits. It feels good.
A psychiatrist is running supernatural investigations with volunteers. The volunteers have to stay the weekend in a creepy New England mansion. Ghosts and creepy crawlies tend to send the inhabitants running for the hills. However, the volunteers are unaware of this exact feature. They are brought on as "a research team" for the doctor and they appear to have been chosen because of their psychic abilities. Theodora is a clairvoyant and Elanor is attuned with ESP. Luke, well... He's just there as a sort of overseer for the family that actually owns the property. He's just a grunt. The group must survive as this house wants them out!
I've seen dozens of old dark house movies and this one takes the cake. It's really good. This isn't just a survival, one guy dies off, then another, then it's a who-done-it, guy wearing a strange cat outfit, cookie cutter horror movie. No. This movie gives you the full-on haunted house experience. Eerie sounds play a big part. This movie has a good soundtrack that adds to the suspense. This cast does a really good job too. As I said above, this cast feels less clunky. I never realized that parts of the remake were shot-for-shot. It really puts these movies in perspective. I had seen the '99 version so much that I actually found myself mouthing along with the dialogue.
The Haunting delved into many areas to illicit a response from the viewers. They used child abuse a lot. There was a strange romantic tension between Theo and Nell. Without really trying they pushed the envelope. It was tasteful through and through.
I highly recommend this movie. It's wonderful. It's streets ahead of the remake. Everything comes together wonderfully. Mystery, Suspense, Drama, Comedy. They are executed really well. The movie drags in a few areas. It's tends to be a bit long winded and dated. But it makes up for it with the story. Show it to casual viewers to get them into Black and Whites. It's not terrifying or incredibly scary. It reminds me of the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland.
Did ya know...
Director Martin Scorsese named this his favorite horror film.
Claire Bloom was intrigued to the play the role of a woman who was attracted to another woman. She said she got along with everyone on the set, except for Julie Harris, who tried everything to avoid her and not talk to her. At the end of the shoot, Harris went over to Bloom's house with a present and explained that the reason she had kept to herself was to stay in character, because Harris' role in the film was that of an outsider that none of the others understand or will listen to. Bloom was happy to hear the real reason behind Harris' behavior, since Bloom stated that she really liked Harris and could not understand what she herself had done wrong to be treated like that by her co-star.