Dr. Markway (Richard Johnson) is searching for evidence of the supernatural. Heinvestigates Hill House, and his team consists of the urbane Theo (Claire Bloom), smart-aleckLuke (Russ Tamblyn) and neurotic Eleanor (Julie Harris). Little by little, the sinister house wearsthe characters down, but particularly targets the vulnerable Eleanor, pushing her closer and closerto the edge. Unlike the dreadful (though entertaining) 1999 remake, Robert Wise’s 1963 versionhews faithfull… to the novel, and generates its chills through moody black-and-white photographyand unseen, suggested horrors. There is a sequence involving low lighting, sinister mutteringsand disturbing wallpaper that is more terrifying than the combined FX of the remake. This is oneof the great ghost stories of cinema.
The sound is the original mono. It is very clean, and there is no distortion on either the musicor the dialogue. There is at least one instance, however, of volume fluctuation, where thedialogue dips lower than it should. As well, the mix as a whole could do with a bit of aboost.
Until now, The Haunting has only been available in a fullscreen VHS edition,afflicted with alarming, seizure-inducing flicker. Now we can see the film as it should be seen, ina gorgeous 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The print is in terrific shape, withno grain orspeckles. The black (all-important in this film) is as profound as one can get. There is some edgeenhancement visible, but really, this is a stupendous-looking DVD.
One of the features that makes this release worth the long wait is the commentary track.Speaking separately are director Robert Wise, writer Nelson Gidding, and cast members JulieHarris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson and Russ Tamblyn. Their memories of 40 years ago areall strong, and the track is utterly fascinating. The still gallery is paired with a gallery of shots ofRobert Wise’s original script. Though the pictures of the script are such that it can’t really beread (even with the zoom on), there are interesting close-up shots of Wise’s notes. “Things thatGo Bump in the Night” is a very cursory essay on ghost stories in film. Finally, there is thetheatrical trailer and the cast and crew listing. The main page of the menu is scored.
Warner has been spoiling horror fans this month, with some fabulous classic releases. This isone of the highlights, and is emphatically not to be missed. A perfect example of how less ismore when it comes to ghost stories, The Haunting is an essential component of anyhorror library.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Still Gallery
- Robert Wise’s Script
- “Things that Go Bump in the Night” Essay
- Cast and Crew List
- Theatrical Trailer