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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
According to Julie Harris, film censors demanded that Theo never be shown to touch Eleanor, in order to keep the lesbianism less obvious. Nevertheless, they touch several times, including when Theo is sitting on her bed. The theme is reinforced when Eleanor calls Theo a mistake of nature. See more »
Mrs. Dudley says she sets out dinner at 6 p.m. and leaves soon afterward, when it begins to get dark. Another scene establishes the date as being October 21. Most of the northeastern US observed Daylight Savings Time through late October even before the Uniform Time Act of 1966; nevertheless, sunset in Boston that time of year is around 5:50 p.m. and could not be more than a few minutes later anywhere in New England. Mrs. Dudley might leave right after serving dinner, but it would already be twilight, and quite dark in such a heavily forested area. 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"
Ninety years ago, Hugh Crain builds the mansion Hill House in a remote area of New England. When his wife is moving to the mansion, she has an accident and dies, leaving the bitter Hugh Crain and his daughter Abigail alone in Hill House. Hugh Crain marries again and his new wife also dies in Hill House. He moves to England and dies, leaving Abigail alone. When she is an old and invalid woman, she hires a paid companion from the village, but the woman neglects her and she dies. The companion inherits Hill House but the mansion drives her crazy and she commits suicide.
In the present days (1963), Dr. John Markway (Richard Johnson) rents the mansion from the inheritor Mrs. Sanderson (Fay Compton) to study the supernatural and prove the existence of ghosts. He invites the clairvoyant Theodora 'Theo' (Claire Bloom) and the unbalanced and needy psychic Eleanor 'Nell' Lance (Julie Harris) to spend vacation in Hill House, and he goes with the skeptical future inheritor Luke Sanderson (Russ Tamblyn) to the mansion. During the nights, the quartet witness supernatural manifestation in the house and the sanity of Nell is affected by her ghosts.
"The Haunting" is a scary psychological horror film by the magnificent director Robert Wise. The ambiguous story does not have special effects, gore, ghosts, serial-killers or monster, but the viewer startles many times with the camera angles and sounds. The art direction is impressive despite the bad taste, creating an eerie environment. In 1999, this film was remade by Jan de Bont but without the quality of the original film. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Desafio do Além" ("Challenge from Beyond")
Note: On 26 Sep 2017, I saw this film again on Blu-Ray.
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