The Haunting (1963) – Episode 46 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“… I leave before the dark. We live over in town, miles away. … We couldn’t hear you. In the night. No one could. … No one will come any nearer than that. In the night. In the dark.”  Okay, get the picture? Hill House is an inviting and comforting place to stay, right? In fact, you’ll feel so at home, you might never want to leave. Join this episode’s Grue Crew – Whitney Collazo, Chad Hunt, and Jeff Mohr – as they brave a few nights in Hill House with The Haunting (1963)!

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 46 – The Haunting (1963)

Dr. Markway (Richard Johnson), a researcher in psychic phenomena, has gained permission to stay in Hill House, a 90-year-old mansion with an evil, deadly history. Markway invites six people with a variety of psychic abilities to accompany him as research assistants, but only two take the bait: Eleanor (Julie Harris), a woman with a history of poltergeist phenomena, and Theo (Claire Bloom), who has proven ESP abilities. Luke (Russ Tamblyn), a member of the owning family and a skeptic, comes along to keep an eye on his property. Mrs. Dudley (Rosalie Crutchley), one of the caretakers of Hill House, makes an appearance early on to ominously warn the researchers that after dark, they will be alone and no one will come to help them. Almost immediately, Hill House begins to exert its power over the interlopers. They only last three nights and not everyone survives The Haunting.

The film is brilliantly directed by Robert Wise, sandwiched between his Oscar-winning efforts on West Side Story (1961) and The Sound of Music (1965). Wise, one of Val Lewton’s acolytes at RKO, exhibits mastery of Lewton’s preference for implicit, rather than explicit, danger in The Haunting. The screenplay by Nelson Gidding, adapted from Shirley Jackson’s novel, The Haunting of Hill House (1959), deftly establishes the four personalities of the research team members, their interpersonal relationships, and how Hill House interacts with and affects them. The acting, cinematography, and music fit the filmmakers’ vision perfectly, ramping up its nearly unbearable, sinister atmosphere.

Once again, the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era Grue Crew have a much greater appreciation for the film they discussed than they had going into this episode. Whitney loves the character of Eleanor and Julie Harris’ portrayal. She also likes the way the story walks a tightrope between the supernatural and insanity. On the other hand, Chad is all over the supernatural justification of events in The Haunting and loves the scenes with the inexplicable pounding on the Eleanor’s and Theo’s bedroom walls. Jeff was entranced with the optical distortions created by Wise’s intentional use of a not-ready-for-primetime lens and loved the introductory “history of Hill House” scenes. Of course, Chad managed to, yet again, find a Batman reference. Your Grue Crew highly recommends The Haunting (1963) as one of the top haunted house films in history, and especially now as a comparison to the recent Netflix series, The Haunting of Hill House.

The Decades of Horror: The Classic Era Grue Crew plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule will be Herk Harvey’s one-off classic, Carnival of Souls (1962).

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about the films we love. Send us an email or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at, iTunes, or the Gruesome Magazine Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you so much for listening!


The Dark Half (1993) – Episode 21 – Decades of Horror 1990s

“Don’t fuck with me cock-knocker.” George Stark (Timothy Hutton) has a way with words. Much like his doppelganger Thad Beaumont (also Hutton). It’s a game of duality in The Dark Half, a film about a pseudonym brought to life. As well as addiction, paranoia, and fame. Did we mention this is based on a Stephen King book? Bet you would never have guessed. There are plenty of allusions to King’s work and time as an alcoholic writer adapted from the book. However, the question really is how the late George A. Romero adapted the material. Is it on the lighter half of that spectrum… or the darker one?

Decades of Horror 1990s
Episode 21 – The Dark Half (1993)

Dark Half is clearly very autobiographical for author Stephen King. A man known for his horror writing. Even under a pseudonym of Richard Bachmann, the man was legendary. But evidently, there’s a dark side with riding under such a name. One that rears it’s ugly head with Thad Beaumont and his alter ego George Stark clash over. Thad just wants to write to support his family without interruption. While George is a crazed lunatic out to use the killings to raise up his name. It’s a battle of wills and madness as people show up dead and Thad is a suspect because… he’s blackmailed by someone trying to reveal his pseudonym? What kind of stupid premise is this?

A premise the 90s crew are ready to go over. Joining Thomas for The Dark Half are Adam Thomas, Dave Dreher and for the first time Joey Fittos! The three discuss everything to do with The Dark Half as well as half a dozen other movies we trail off about. Adam praises George A. Romero for his competent direction. Dave and Adam have issues with how this adapts aspects of the book. Joey realizes that this isn’t a TV movie. Thomas just praises it for not being Bruiser. It’s a rather flighty discussion that at least reveals one thing: the truth of Theodor Geisel’s secret blackmail scandal!

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The intro and outro is “Suck City” by Black Math. Look for more of their music via Free Music Archive.

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Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)