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The Haunting [VHS] (1963)

Julie Harris , Claire Bloom , Robert Wise  |  G |  VHS Tape
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (556 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn, Fay Compton
  • Directors: Robert Wise
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • VHS Release Date: September 1, 1998
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (556 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6302872766
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #430,807 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Certain to remain one of the greatest haunted-house movies ever made, Robert Wise's The Haunting (1963) is antithetical to all the gory horror films of subsequent decades, because its considerable frights remain implicitly rooted in the viewer's sensitivity to abject fear. A classic spook-fest based on Shirley Jackson's novel The Haunting of Hill House (which also inspired the 1999 remake directed by Jan de Bont), the film begins with a prologue that concisely establishes the dark history of Hill House, a massive New England mansion (actually filmed in England) that will play host to four daring guests determined to investigate--and hopefully debunk--the legacy of death and ghostly possession that has given the mansion its terrifying reputation.

Consumed by guilt and grief over her mother's recent death and driven to adventure by her belief in the supernatural, Eleanor Vance (Julie Harris) is the most unstable--and therefore the most vulnerable--visitor to Hill House. She's invited there by anthropologist Dr. Markway (Richard Johnson), along with the bohemian lesbian Theodora (Claire Bloom), who has acute extra-sensory abilities, and glib playboy Luke Sanderson (Russ Tamblyn, from Wise's West Side Story), who will gladly inherit Hill House if it proves to be hospitable. Of course, the shadowy mansion is anything but welcoming to its unwanted intruders. Strange noises, from muffled wails to deafening pounding, set the stage for even scarier occurrences, including a door that appears to breathe (with a slowly turning doorknob that's almost unbearably suspenseful), unexplained writing on walls, and a delicate spiral staircase that seems to have a life of its own.

The genius of The Haunting lies in the restraint of Wise and screenwriter Nelson Gidding, who elicit almost all of the film's mounting terror from the psychology of its characters--particularly Eleanor, whose grip on sanity grows increasingly tenuous. The presence of lurking spirits relies heavily on the power of suggestion (likewise the cautious handling of Theodora's attraction to Eleanor) and the film's use of sound is more terrifying than anything Wise could have shown with his camera. Like Jack Clayton's 1961 chiller, The Innocents, The Haunting knows the value of planting the seeds of terror in the mind, as opposed to letting them blossom graphically on the screen. What you don't see is infinitely more frightening than what you do, and with nary a severed head or bloody corpse in sight, The Haunting is guaranteed to chill you to the bone. --Jeff Shannon

Product Description

Disc 1 Side A: Fistful of Dollars WS Disc 1 Side B: Fistful of Dollars P&S

Disc 2: The Pink Panther (1964) WS Disc 3: Dr. No WS Disc 4: The Magnificent Seven WS

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
225 of 237 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE PERFECT HAUNTED HOUSE MOVIE. ...WANNA KNOW WHY? August 2, 2003
The story has, by now, been imitated endlessly. Four people on a haunted house just to study it. But this is just the premisse.

The great Robert Wise sets up the most perfect, most classic haunted-house film ever made. The screenplay is built on the principle that you don't have to see it (the gore, the blood, etc.) to feel the fear. So, this is one of those great films where the tension is constructed upon the things you hear... the things you know are there.

In the pre-CGI era, you really had to create something out of what you had. So, Mr. Wise had a great script (years ahead of its time), great characters, great actors, a great cameraman, and settings that are a wow!

This is what makes this film so much better than any other (not to mention its remake - who clearly goes for the predictable cheap-trick CGI effects).

The story is told in the most perfect classic form. From beginning to end, you follow the story in the most careful pace. Beat by beat. From the prologue to the conclusion, the story is peerlessly told.

The characters and actors are great to watch: Julie Harris is the perfect troubled woman haunted by inner ghosts, while Theodora (the beautiful Claire Bloom) is the perfect icy clairvoyant who may or may not be a lesbian (everything is constructed with such taste...). Richard Johnson is great as the Doctor who must keep control of the experiment. Russ Tamblyn is also great as the non-believer who's in just for the adventure. As we will discover, all of them have weak points the house will explore. So it is possible to say that this is one film where the set (in this case the house itself) is one character just like the others.

The house has personality.
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106 of 116 people found the following review helpful
It is not often I love a book and go on to enjoy the Movie adaptation. To Kill a Mockingbird, comes to mind. But this is the case with the marvellous movie The Haunting. Since I adore spooky, sinister tales, I treasured Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House. And forget the silly, inane remake, this is the Mount Everest of Haunted House movies, only rivalled by The Legend of Hell House made nearly a decade later with Clive Revill, Pamela Franklin and Roddy McDowell and the Innocents with Deborah Kerr and Pamela Franklin. These three would make a super triple-feature of Houses with Things that go Bump, since all three deal not only with the supernatural, the complexities of the mind, but the force of the will lingering after death.
The Haunting is a rather faithful adaptation of Jackson's dark and spooky novel. The key word being spooky - not gory. If you are looking for buckets of blood, search on. This is a sophisticated movie that chills rather than shocks. Staring the gorgeous Richard Johnson as Dr. John Markway, a man determined to prove ghosts do exist. And since he believes he will find them at Hill House, he arranges with the current owner to rent the house to carry out his research - though part of the pact is he must accept her grandson Luke Sanderson (Russ Tamblin) to keep an eye on things.
Markway invites a wide range of people to come and take part, people with a past that showed their lives were brushed by the paranormal. However, only two come: Theodora, a clairvoyant with vague lesbian hints played by Claire Bloom, and Eleanor Lance brought to aching life by the brilliant Julie Harris.
Eleanor is a timid woman, browbeaten her whole life. She spent her youth tending her ailing mother and is now forced to live with her sister and her family.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They don't make them like this anymore November 25, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House proved to be major force in the world of the ghost story and with its adaptation to film we have what may well be the all time best haunted house story. The movie is one of the last in the classic school of fright were the imagination is what gets you. With its gothic scenes and excellent use of shadow, The Haunting is that rare movie that delivers and continues to do so without having to rely on cheap gimmicks or gratuitous gore. A researcher invites a group of people to stay in the Hill House to determine if it is indeed haunted. We have two women, one an unmarried spinster, the other a free spirited lesbian. Both women have had psychic occurrences in the past and the spinster seems to have been taken by the house, her purpose in life is complete as she looks forward to becoming its caretaker. Yet the house does posses her and in a tragic turn of events claims yet another victim. Whether the house is haunted is undeniable, the actual spirits are not seen but make their presence felt in some of the most frightening scenes involving the classic school of "Fear of the Unseen" that filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock were best noted for. The photography and setting are wonderfully distorted and used to create a sense of fear and sheer terror. It is undeniable that this movie is one of the best made films in the Horror genre and regretfully we may never see another like it in our world of FX and all out gore. I highly recommend this movie to any movie buff to help show what real terror is all about, but make sure you are not alone.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A Fireside Horror Classic
I figured this classic film would not really scare me as it used to. I remember seeing it as a child & it was terrifying to me. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Skyeleo
5.0 out of 5 stars I am sure that this is the best ghost movie ever made
I am sure that this is the best ghost movie ever made. And it is all done with special effects and superb acting.
Published 2 days ago by Elizabeth Seideman
5.0 out of 5 stars The Haunting
The last of the TRULY SCARY movies -- you'll look over your shoulder at every sound around your house!
Published 6 days ago by man in the hat
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of the best horror films ever made.
The dvd came promptly and without damage.
Published 6 days ago by James A. Schubert
5.0 out of 5 stars PLEASE SEND ME MY PRODUCT NOW
Published 17 days ago by RICHARD HOGNES
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch at your own risk...
I first saw this movie in 1963 when it came out. It is black and white but still the scariest movie I have ever seen. Read more
Published 27 days ago by S. R.
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary Still Today!
The "Ghost Story" began in the 40's with "The Uninvited" and the batton was passed to this Robert Wise classic in the sixties. Read more
Published 1 month ago by cmcc
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a good movie, sorry.
I am unable to account for this movie's high reputation. It's terrible. Here's the plot: We are told Hill House is haunted, an investigative team tries to find out if it's haunted,... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dan Olson
4.0 out of 5 stars scary movie
scary movie, good effects and story. The setting, and old dark castle like house, is very effective in convincing the viewer that something bad is going to happen.
Published 1 month ago by Michael Slattery
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!
I've watched this film many times. I first saw it when I was about 10, and have loved it ever since! That was over 40 years ago, and it still scares me when I watch it! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
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Topic From this Discussion
Is the audio really soft on this MGM dvd?
I can't compare the 2003 version of Haunting over the 1963 version. The later film had a good cast, etc. but the 1963 version had the
Robert Wise touch. He took camera angles, sound effects, the subtle ambience to make this movie work. He played on your own imagination to scare you. No... Read More
Jul 10, 2012 by L. Myers |  See all 5 posts
Most Chilling Moments in Horror Movies
"In the night, in the dark, no will hear you scream, no one lives any closer than town. No one will move any closer than that. In the night, in the dark," Most frightening lines in a movie.

The birds gathering, waiting silently, waiting..
Oct 30, 2008 by Arved G. Grass |  See all 14 posts
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