31 Horror Films #8 The Haunting 1963 Dir. Robert Wise

Last year I did a series of daily micro blogs going through the history of horror films by year. This was meant to give people an example of the high points of the genre. This year I'll be doing the same thing, but going off the beaten path to provide some films you may not have heard of. These films may not be up your alley, but they're all interesting.

The Haunting 1963 Dir. Robert Wise

In the pantheon of great horror cinema, the ghost story seems to be the most under repented. This makes sense since this sub genre of horror isn't easy to accomplish. When featuring something as intangible as the spirit world, it takes a special kind of creative team to make a movie about ghosts that is both captivating and unnerving. Fortunately for audiences in 1963, they got just that writer and director with The Haunting.

Based off of the novel "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson, The Haunting, written by Nelson Gidding and directed by Robert Wise follows a group of paranormal investigators as they look into the mysterious Hill House and it's macabre history. The team is comprised of Dr. Markway, leader of the investigation, Theodora, a psychic, Nell and Hill House heir Luke Sanderson. Throughout the course of the film, the investigators encounter very real spiritual happenings; cold spots, phantom sounds and objects moving of their own accord. The most terrifying scene in the entire film is centered on knocking at Theo's bedroom door. Wise shoots the scene in such a way to draw the tension to a fever pitch. While these supernatural occurrences add much to the feeling of the film, it is also notable that The Haunting explores the mental breakdown of Eleanor as well.

It could be said that this film is just as much about mental and emotional facility as it is about real ghosts. For it's Eleanor's previous life experiences in caring for her sick mother that are echoed in the storied past of Hill House, it is for this reason that the house claims Eleanor both emotionally as well as supernaturally.

The Haunting is well written, beautifully shot and thrilling to the last frame. This is a film that is certainly within the top five cinematic ghost stories of all time.

Watch the trailer HERE