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George At 

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The Haunting

If you want to see proof that you can make a very scary film without buckets of blood or jump scares, witness the creeping dread in 1963's horror classic THE HAUNTING.

Building slowly and creating tension through dialogue and ever tightening suspense, the film introduces you to Hill House, the least friendly home since that two story in Amityville.

Richard Johnson stars as Dr. John Markway, a scientist determined to find proof of the supernatural. He invites a half dozen people with previous paranormal experiences to spend a weekend with him at Hill House and see what happens.

It's a classic Horror set up, well adapted from Shirley Jackson's scary book, "The Haunting of Hill House" by screenwriter Nelson Gidding (The Andromeda Strain) and perfectly directed by Robert Wise (West Side Story, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Sound of Music).

Julie Harris is Eleanor, a sensitive, fragile woman sequestered in her sister's house and longing to break loose for a "vacation" at Hill House.

Claire Bloom (The King's Speech, Crimes and Misdemeanors) is beautiful psychic Theo, the outgoing flip side of Eleanor's reserve.

Russ Tamblyn (West Side Story, Twin Peaks) rounds out the group as the cocky young nephew due to inherit the troubled estate and all it's unwanted guests.

Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny in the Connery/Moore OO7 films) also arrives as Markway's wife, who has no belief in ghosts but is about to get a spectral lesson.

The film alternates between quiet, intelligent dialogue that sets up the guests and the home's history and scary sequences of the nights inside the foreboding rooms.

The guests dread nightfall, and so do we.

A sequence with Eleanor staring at a pattern on the wall that our brains slowly begin telling us is a drooping, horrifying face is creepy as hell, and so are the moaning, terrifying noises that ooze from the "face".

Another scene finds Eleanor & Theo huddling under the covers as an unseen force bangs on the door like rounds from a tank, slowly turning the door knob at the same moment that they realize it's unlocked.

Foreshadowing everything from "Poltergeist" to "The Amityville Horror" and "The Legend of Hell House", THE HAUNTING scares up a great time and is a horror classic for the ages.

It was horribly remade in 1999 with one tenth the scares and 10,000 times the budget, a pale reflection of this black & white great.

THE HAUNTING truly gives me the creeps, which earns it an appreciative A+ and a spot in my all time Top 100.

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