Greed (PG) Saturday, 4.35pm, TCM (428) The Haunting (M) Saturday, 8.30pm, TCM (428) The Babadook (M) Wednesday, 9.25am, Thriller (409)
You want to see something really scary? For the near-perfect Halloween experience, there’s none better than director Robert Wise’s 1963 blackand-white wide-screen psychological horror film
The Haunting (Saturday, 8.30pm, TCM). Based on the book by Shirley Jackson, the film tells of an emotionally frail spinster (Julie Harris) who comes under the spell of a massive house in the British countryside with a long history of tragedy, and the small band of psychic investigators who try to pull her out of it. The film plays maliciously with the audience’s imagination, suggesting more than it reveals and using sound in a particularly inventive way.
In a similar vein, Brisbane’s own Jennifer Kent keeps viewers on their toes in her 2014 horror film The Babadook (Wednesday, 9.25am, Thriller). Essie Davis plays the grieving widow who discovers her young son may be telling the truth when he claims the eponymous demon is stalking them in their house.
Kent’s scrupulous attention to detail and precision timing hold her in good stead, and it’s no wonder the film has been embraced by genre fans around the world.
No cineaste worth their salt can pass up the opportunity to see the 1999 reconstruction of director Eric von Stroheim’s legendary, mutilated 1923 masterpiece Greed (Saturday, 4.35pm, TCM).
Originally nearly eight hours long but cut before its release (and the footage burned), the surviving two-hour version has been expanded to nearly four by the inclusion of copious production stills, narration from an original shooting script and a new musical score. The tragic love affair and marriage of dentist John McTeague (Gibson Gowland) and Trina Sieppe (Zasu Pitts) is poisoned by money, and remains a groundbreaking, cautionary tale of avarice.
Though still quite active on American television, actress Anne Heche first came to prominence as a leading lady in 1998, when she starred opposite Harrison Ford in director Ivan Reitman’s comedy Six Days Seven Nights (Monday, 12.45am, Action).
The two play oil-and-water castaways on a remote island who learn to love each other despite their differences. Heche channels the great Jean Arthur in her crafty performance and Ford, eternally underrated for his comedic chops, is quite good.
Staying on the numbers, among Burt Lancaster’s best late-career performances is as the hawkish and deceitful General Scott in director John Frankenheimer’s 1964 Cold War thriller Seven Days in May (Monday, 8.30pm, TCM). When he tries to undermine a nuclear disarmament treaty with the Soviets, he’s called out by his aide (Kirk Douglas). Long-time television and film writer Rod Serling is one of the credited screenwriters.
Anne Heche in Six Days Seven Nights