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The Haunting


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Product Details

  • Actors: Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson, Lili Taylor, Bruce Dern
  • Directors: Jan de Bont
  • Writers: David Self, Shirley Jackson
  • Producers: Jan de Bont, Colin Wilson, Donna Roth, Marty P. Ewing, Samuel Z. Arkoff
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Special Edition, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Dreamworks Video
  • DVD Release Date: November 23, 1999
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (446 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0783237413
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,632 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Haunting" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Behind-the-Scenes featurette
  • 2 Theatrical Trailers

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Suffering from the extreme bad luck of being released at the same time as the low-budget The Blair Witch Project, this adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House attempts to update Shirley Jackson's psychologically terrifying ghost story to the era of big-budget, computerized special effects. Does it work? Well, let's just say that showing isn't exactly the same as telling. A prime example of bloated studio filmmaking, The Haunting telegraphs all its frights so blatantly that it forsakes any of Jackson's subtle horrors for the remedial scares of a clunky carnival ride. The story remains basically the same, with four people called to an old mansion for experiments in the supernatural, but instead of getting inside the heads of its main characters (as the 1963 adaptation by Robert Wise did so well), Jan DeBont's film deserts character development for the huge, glorious set design provided by Eugenio Zanetti (Restoration). Thus, instead of a well-drawn story you get... a well-drawn house, one that four very talented and underutilized actors--Lili Taylor, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Liam Neeson, and Owen Wilson--wander around in endlessly (as Zeta-Jones puts it, the house is "sort of Charles Foster Kane meets the Munsters"). Taylor, as the hypersensitive Nell, is the unknowing lynchpin in the battle between good and bad ghosts and gets saddled with most of the expository dialogue of the mansion's gothic backstory. Zeta-Jones (showing some spark) and Neeson (showing none) are sadly reduced to providing reactionary shots of the film's disastrous climax, which mixes hapless new-age affirmations with computer-generated effects of ghosts and exploding windows, walls, doors, etc. For this haunted-house story, take a quick tour of the breathtaking rooms, but definitely don't stay the night. --Mark Englehart

Product Description

Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lili Taylor. A supposedly haunted mansion lives up to its reputation when a scientist and three of his subjects elect to spend the night there. A terrifying remake of the 1963 classic. 1999/color/113 min/PG-13/widescreen.

Customer Reviews

The movie was cast very well and the special effects are incredible.
Shannon Davis
I also found the other characters in the movie quiet boring, and the plot confused me until the third time I watched it.
Josh
In short, if you really want to scare people, it's going to take more than just a "Ghostbusters gets serious" approach.
K. Good

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Everett on January 17, 2005
Format: DVD
Either way you're having a good time watching this movie. I was more entertained than haunted watching this movie, which is hard to do either way. Two simple facts that know you're making a right choice for this movie. #1: the acting is good, and in this movie, it has highly underrated stars such as Lili Taylor, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. #2: The plot makes sense, and entertains. It may seem like a bad choice at first, but once you watch it a second time, it really kicks in on your entertainment ratings.

Nell Vance (Lili Taylor) is a fairly simple woman neglected by her family, after her mother dies. When she has no where to go, she takes a roll in an experiment that Dr. Marrow (Liam Neeson) is doing for people with Insomnia, but it pays really good money. Taking a job where all you have to do is don't sleep; sounds pretty simple right? Something seems strange, yet interesting about the location where the experiment is being held, at the Hill House. Though it's strange that someone would abandon such a neat place, weird things seem to go on as the occupants get used to it. Theo (Catherine Zeta-Jones), and Nell hear rigorous banging sounds in their rooms through the night. Things get cold with an explanation, and out of no where, the Harpsichord tightens a string by itself, and snaps nearly cutting Dr. Marrows assisstants eye. What's even worse is that something is coming after Nell. She can hear voices in her room, but what are they trying to tell her? Maybe she got more of a job then she bargained for.

The acting in this movie was great, epecially by Lili Taylor. She was just great. She gives a kind of uneasy feeling about the house the way she potrayed her part as Nell. Catherine Zeta-Jones as Theo too.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Thucydides 1 on October 23, 2006
Format: DVD
This is another one of these stories in which absolutely nothing can compare to the book. Shirley Jackson's "The Haunting of Hill House" is the most frightening, penetrating ghost story I've ever read. The only movie that begins to do this story justice is the original black-and-white, "The Haunting", starring Julie Harris (1963).

The newer version, which I'm reviewing here, starts off fairly well, actually. The sets are rich and nicely detailed. Catherine Zeta Jones makes a really electric, alluring Theo. Liam Neeson plays a workable Dr. Marrow (not "Dr. Marquay", as named in the 1963 movie). Owen Wilson plays his usual annoying, irritatingly contemporary persona in an obligatory way as Luke, but I've never been able to take any movie seriously that Wilson's been in, and horror stories must be taken seriously or they're undermined to begin with (he reminds me a lot of Bruce Dern, but at least Dern has a modicum of talent). I don't really remember Lili Taylor as being in much of anything before, and sometimes that works well for a movie, but not this one. The part of Eleanor Vance is that of a very complex, tortured, naive person, and it was played to perfection by Julie Harris (the '63 version), whereas I remember less about the Lili Taylor portrayal of this central character than that of any of the other actors.

For all that, the 1st half of this newer version is not bad, but the 2nd half goes downhill rapidly. And in the last 25% of the movie, the director was intent in pulling out every cliched, hackneyed special effects staple used in every movie about ghosts from "Poltergeist" to "Ghost Busters", complete with all the shape-shifting techniques we enjoyed in "Terminator II", and many episodes of "Deep Space 9".
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Edward Aycock on December 6, 1999
Format: DVD
When I saw the 1963 version of the Haunting, I was 24 and could not sleep well for 3 weeks afterwards. I am now 28, and saw the new version lately, and could not sleep well afterwards. Not because it was scary, but because this is what modern filmmaking has amounted to.
The original is scary, not just because it works more with suggestion and is in black and white, but because we truly feel that the four people in Hill House truly are there..all alone...in the night...in the dark. And it rewards you in the end with a quick flash of (something!) that makes you jump out of your seat.
In this 1999 version, the house is full of eyepopping color, fun house like rooms, and four blithering idiots inside. (If Lili Taylor, whom I usually adore, said one more time that Hugh Crain built this beautiful Hill House for the children to enjoy, I was going to reach into the TV and spook her myself.)
The saving grace of the film are the sets. wonderfully elaborate (until the house grows eyes and growls with the ferocity of a Hanna Barbera cartoon. Also, try not to laugh when the wooden cherubs contort their mouths into round "O"s and say, "NOOO! " You'll be reminded of Mr Bill from Saturday Night Live.) I am biased of course, and watched this movie rather mournfully, getting wistful whilst thinkinng of Julie Harris and Claire Bloom. I was not against the idea of a remake in the least... this has always been a favorite tale of mine since I read Shirley Jackson's novel. I just wish they'd relied more on the psychological scares, than the cartoonish ones.
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