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SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - The haunting -

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

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