The Haunting

Starring Richard Johnson, Julie Harris, Claire Bloom and Russ Tamblyn
Screenplay by Nelson Gidding based on The Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Directed by Robert Wise
US/UK 1963
114 minutes

Modern horror films tend to use either elaborate computer generated effects or ultra-violent action to stun their audiences into submission. Made in 1963 The Haunting is a very different and far subtler kind of movie - relying on intense performances, strange camera angles and great sound design to achieve an eerie, unsettling atmosphere that makes the hairs stand up on the
back of your neck.

The Haunting is based on a novel by the American writer Shirley Jackson, whose supernatural tales are both literate and psychologically complex. The story concerns a group of people brought together by a researcher into the paranormal  to explore the reputation of Hill House - an apparently haunted mansion.  Julie Harris plays the fragile, neurotic Eleanor and Claire Bloom is the psychic Theo. The two women begin to experience strange goings on in the house and soon events spiral out of control...

Directed by Hollywood veteran Robert Wise, whose many films include West Side Story and The Sound Of Music, The Haunting was filmed in the UK - on location at Ettington House in Warwickshire and at Borehamwood studios in Hertfordshire. Wise utilised specially created location sound and distorted set design to build a foreboding mood during filming.

The result is a film that was only a modest success at the time of release but has grown in stature over the years and now frequently appears on lists of the scariest cinematic ghost stories.

Prepare to have your spine chilled.