here are some fright- film
fans who argue that the old adage “It’s what you don’t see that’s most terrifying ” only applies if you grew up in the era before the splatter movie boom. Was the stylish Count Dracula of Christopher Lee’s time honestly more effective than the icky arterial geysers of Eli Roth or the Saw franchise? Yet, there is still the occasional old- fashioned shocker that – even to this day – manages to raise more goosebumps than the graphic gore of your average blood- opera.
Case in point: Robert Wise’s 1963 “old dark house” epic, The Haunting.
Shot in black and white, with a minimal cast of four, and featuring not even a drop of spilled blood, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the end result may not have dated especially well. Yet, with just the use of its creeping camerawork, and a few sudden, spooky sounds, The Haunting holds up as one of the most eerily effective genre creepers ever made. Focusing its story in just one location – a malevolent maze- like mansion in the English countryside – and largely basing its paranormal antagonism around a solitary female character ( an introverted singleton, in her late thirties, called Eleanor), Wise’s poltergeist- ridden classic is the perfect example of “less is more”. The director – who would go on to make The Sound Of Music – cast a classic quartet of esteemed screen actors as his movie’s daring ghostlyinvestigators. Alongside the late Julie Harris, as the picture’s hysterical leading lady, is the American- born Russ Tambyn ( from West Side Story) and two old Shakespearians in Claire Bloom and Richard