This is the one truly horror movie on my list of favorite old, hokey movies. This one showed me what a real horror movie is. It became my go-to standard of, Do I really want to watch this now?
About three years ago, while channel surfing in the middle of a sleepless night, I unfortunately discovered the movie 1408. Until then, The Haunting was the scariest movie I’d ever seen. Both of these movies rattled me to the core, but the 1963 The Haunting was my first and favorite.
Some brilliant person cast Julie Harris for the part of Eleanor Lance, a lonely single woman who is one of three people who are invited to come spend a weekend studying the goings-on in a house that is supposedly haunted. The “special effects” are mostly sounds and camera angles and there’s a running dialogue in Eleanor’s head with herself and her musings about the house.
As a kid, horror movies to me were Frankenstein, vampires, werewolves and anything with Vincent Price in it. Scary while you’re watching the movie, but once it’s over, you know without a doubt that you won’t encounter any of those in a dark room.
Then I watched The Haunting, and I learned an important lesson … the scariest monsters are the ones you can’t see. And the best special effects are the ones conjured up in your own mind and imagination.
I’ll say it again … regardless of the genre, the best and most impactful movies and books are the ones that draw in the reader/viewer and cause them to engage their own emotions and imagination.
If you look up The Haunting to watch, be aware that I’m referring to the 1963 film.
Hollywood has a nasty habit of trying to capitalize a second time on a past success. Some older movies are so good that, even when they are obviously dated, it’s nothing short of sacrilege to even consider a remake. I mean, who in their right mind would try to remake Gone with the Wind or The Wizard of Oz? Sacrilege, I say!!
And Hollywood committed sacrilege in 1999 when they remade The Haunting. The remake had a terrific cast – Liam Neeson and Catherine Zeta-Jones – but, sorry guys, you can’t improve on perfection. I’m obviously biased, but in my humble opinion, the original from 1963 with Julie Harris is the best.