Author Topic: Possibly The Scariest Film Ever Made...  (Read 7682 times)

Devious Viper
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Possibly The Scariest Film Ever Made...
« on: November 03, 2005, 04:52:12 PM »
The Haunting (1962)

"Hill House had stood for 90 years, and might stand for 90 more… whatever walked there, walked alone."

The Haunting is the scariest film ever made, I firmly believe this. It stands head and shoulders above every other horror film as the perfect example of how less is more. There's no blood, no (seen) monsters, and hardly any special effects. A great deal of the dialogue is spoken in voiceover, there's no violence, and in fact, only the barest of stories. All this should add up to a disastrous entry into the horror genre - but of course, it doesn't.

The real star of the film is the house, as our "hero" Dr Markway (Richard Johnson) explains: "Scandal, murder, insanity, suicide… the history of Hill House had everything I wanted. It was an evil house from the beginning… a house that was born bad."



Markway wants to conduct a paranormal investigation in the house, and after a brief history lesson explains to us that he hopes to find either "…a few loose floorboards… or maybe the key to another world?"
He's assembled a rag-bag of seemingly unconnected strangers to help him - Eleanor (Julie Harris), a miserable spinster who spent most of her life looking after her sick mother and has a history of creating paranormal "happenings" (such as stones falling on her house when she was 10 years old - something she now refuses to believe actually happened); Theo (Claire Bloom), a psychic lesbian (but not necessarily in that order); Luke (Russ Tamblin), the future owner of the house; and Markway himself, a self-appointed expert on the paranormal with a few woolly ideas on what is happening there and how it can be dealt with (plus a nice sensible cardigan).

Markway may be the catalyst for the story, but it's Eleanor who proves to be the driving force for the events that will unfold. She's a strange, fragile little woman - once abused by her now-dead mother, now abused by her sister and her family. Despite half owning the family car, she has to resort to stealing it to attend her appointment at Hill House. An appointment which she hopes will lead to bigger and better things ("I hope I hope I hope this is what I have been waiting for all my life…")
And it seems she has found what she's looking for, even as she drives up to the forbidding house, noting: "It's staring at me…"
With little personality of her own, and no prior experience of larger-than-life characters like Markway and Theo, Eleanor immediately falls for both of them (though in the case of Theo, her attraction appears to be purely non-sexual, despite Theo's predatory confidence). Theo immediately re-christens her "Nell" and on meeting Markway for the first time, Eleanor comments: "It's Theo who's wearing velvet, so I must be Eleanor in tweed…"

But all this is just scene setting - although, as Markway has already stated, the presence of people like themselves should help stimulate some kind of activity in the house (so perhaps he's more astute than his broom cupboard-clowning activities would lead us to believe? Never trust a man with a moustache, my old mum used to say…). Eleanor (egged on by Theo) is becoming more and more convinced that she belongs in the house, and after dinner, with everyone off to bed, the fun begins…
To list exactly what happens to the visitors would spoil it for those who haven't yet seen the film, but it's fair to say that anyone who's expecting sedate chills is in for a shock. The first night, from the moment Eleanor wakes to the sound of unearthly banging (oo-er! just remembering this sends shivers down my spine..!) mumbling "All right mother, all right…" to the point where she realises "Now I've done it… it was looking for the room with someone inside!" ranks as one of the scariest scenes in any film ever (as well as a testament to what can be achieved with a few VERY LOUD sound effects and some hysterical women).

From that moment on, the audience is experiencing the same terror that Eleanor and Theo are - what was behind the door? What happens if it gets in? And everything else that happens in the film - whether it's a bit of graffiti ("It's my name, and it belongs to me… it knows my name!"), an innocuous statue ("Haven't you noticed how nothing in this house seems to move… until you look away?"), a wonky bookcase, a shadowy "face" cast by moonlight hitting the raised pattern on the wallpaper ("Whose hand was I holding?"), or even just the fact that the nursery door is open (believe me), becomes absolutely chilling.
Eleanor's already fragile psyche takes a bit of a bruising when she first realises why Theo is taking such an interest (calling her one of "nature's mistakes") and she's then introduced to Markway's wife, Grace (who, in a fit of pique, Eleanor puts in mortal danger - something she immediately regrets but can't undo).

As the previous nights' happenings prove to be nothing but an opening salvo, Eleanor finally realises her destiny (and the audience is treated to a trapdoor-related shock which is guaranteed to get you every… single… time).
"It's happening to you, Eleanor… at last, something is really, really happening to me…"

The Haunting is quite rare in that it not only delivers the goods from a horror film point of view, but that it's also packed with interesting characters, psychological observations and brilliant cinematography (the disconcerting angles used, the bizarre outdoor footage shot on infra-red film to give the house an other-worldly quality). In other words, it's the kind of film a clever-penis film student can really get their teeth into (and indeed, many have). But first and foremost, it should be watched, and enjoyed, as a brilliant horror film, which manages to deliver the chills right up until the last, brilliant line.
"…we who walk here… walk alone…"

Voo
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Possibly The Scariest Film Ever Made...
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2005, 10:56:43 PM »
I quite agree. Saw it as a little kid and it scared me to death! Hated the remake. Like the avatar. WhooBoy!!! :wink:

Zak Roy Yoballa

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Possibly The Scariest Film Ever Made...
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2005, 05:46:30 AM »
It is the scariest.  But I liked the remake too.  The only other movie that could give it a run for the money (in its day) would be The Exorsist.
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Devious Viper
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Possibly The Scariest Film Ever Made...
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2005, 12:37:33 PM »
Sorry, Zak,
I'm with Voo--- HATED the remake. Can't belive I wasted good hard-earned cash to go see it at the cinema! Having seen the original, the re-make could never cut the mustard. It relied on CGI instead of "atmosphere", and I personally found the PS2 game "Silent Hill" scarier than the remake!

Voo - I saw the movie the very first time late one night with my mother, another great horror afficianado, and to this day, whenever it is re-run on TV she will telephone me to let me know and says the same thing..."Remember the banging on the door..?"

Unbeatable - THE scariest movie of all time!

(Although "The Changeling" relied heavily on similar devices - another great thriller!)

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Voo
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Possibly The Scariest Film Ever Made...
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2005, 06:07:11 PM »
I believe I read the book in elementary school also. I was always into monsters. To me, the implied is always scarier than the graphic. Special effects are great but they take away your ability to imagine the unseen. It's the unseen things that always terrify me. I love listening to old horror stories on the radio. Anybody besides me do that? I'm trying to incorporate all of this into my story/movie Warriors. It's up to the readers to "see" what they want to see in the story line. I don't do too much description because I want you to see it the way you want to. A whisper in the night evokes more horror in me than the bloody axe of a gruesome killer. Too much blood causes the brain to turn off and tune out. But the implied or unseen......................yeah, baby! :!:

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Re: Possibly The Scariest Film Ever Made...
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2006, 04:27:01 AM »
Most remakes can't stand up to the original.  I often find that the black and white originals of a horror film are way better than any color remake.

Devious Viper
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Re: Possibly The Scariest Film Ever Made...
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2006, 06:05:28 PM »
Stephen King's "Rose Red" is such thinly disguised plagiarism of "The Haunting", someone should sue!

King has always held up both the book and the '62 movie as the pinnacle of haunted-house story-telling, however. So perhaps its no surprise that he fell back on the formula.

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Loup_Garou
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Bravo
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2006, 06:37:02 PM »
I agree, DV - The Haunting was one of the first scary movies I was exposed to, and it still ranks in my top ten.

~Loup

Devious Viper
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Re: Possibly The Scariest Film Ever Made...
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2006, 02:40:14 AM »
Quote from: Mrs. Dudley
No one lives any closer than town. No one will come any closer than that. So no one will hear you if you scream.

In the night.

In the dark.

Avram Fawcett
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Re: Possibly The Scariest Film Ever Made...
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2006, 02:21:43 PM »
I don't get it. I have never found The Haunting scary. I hardly even enjoyed it. The voicever thoughts were annoying. It's way down on my list. I liked the remake, but it did seem a bit overblown, though.

There are many movies scarier than this. I would consider The Changeling (1979), Psycho (1960), Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and even Halloween (1978) better horror films, including scarewise.

Devious Viper
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Re: Possibly The Scariest Film Ever Made...
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2006, 02:27:58 PM »
The Changeling...http://monstrous.com/forum/index.php?topic=2309.0

I guess this film (The Haunting) works differently depending on your age. This film works because its like listening to a play on the radio, and your own imagination fills in the gaps to create the fear. Weaned on too much gore or too much special effects from too early an age, and then I agree, a person simply wouldn't get The Haunting or the way it provokes you to create your own fear. And nobody knows your own fears better than yourself.

DeadHead

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Re: Possibly The Scariest Film Ever Made...
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2006, 11:32:35 PM »
One of the scarriest movies to me was It. I was a wee babe when I first saw it. What can I say it mest me up. I still don't like walking near drains. Oh yeh Tim Curry still freaks me out too! :cry:

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Re: Possibly The Scariest Film Ever Made...
« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2006, 07:58:56 AM »
Its the 2nd scary movie I remember seeing, the first being Leprechaun (which still scares me). I have this wooden leprechaun statue in the backyard and I think it moves at night. I can hear the scraping of the wood on the concrete, but I dare not look incase it sees me. Most of the time I think its just there to protect us, given its been in the family awhile. But hell, it still scares me.
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Weirdelicious
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Re: Possibly The Scariest Film Ever Made...
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2006, 08:09:51 PM »
You'll all laugh at me, the scariest for me was "Poltergeist" ! But I have to mention that I was 5 when I saw it the first time...  :-P traumatized the heck out of me!

Avram Fawcett
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Re: Possibly The Scariest Film Ever Made...
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2006, 01:38:49 PM »
One of the scarriest movies to me was It. I was a wee babe when I first saw it. What can I say it mest me up. I still don't like walking near drains. Oh yeh Tim Curry still freaks me out too! :cry:

I need to see it. Then again, due to my youth, Tim Curry will always be the voice of Nigel Thornberry to me. :lol:

Poltergeist is a good movie to me. Certainly THE scariest flick to be rated PG.