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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 GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, or the Gruesome Magazine Horror News Radio Facebook group.

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

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Zombie (1979) – Episode 62 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“What is all this about the dead coming back to life again and… having to be killed a second time? I mean, what the hell’s going on here?” Peter West (Ian McCulloch) tries to make sense of the dead rising from their graves to eat the living in Zombie (1979). Doc Rotten returns and he brings Lucio Fulci to the 1970s podcast for the very first time. Jeff Mohr, Chad Hunt, and Bill Mulligan are on hand to discuss the highlights, the effects, the living dead, Italian horror, and Fulci’s dreamlike plot structure. Oh, yeah, and a zombie versus a shark! What else do you need?

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 62 – Zombie (1979)

When George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978) was released overseas, it was often known as Zombi. In Italy, Fulci’s zombie epic was titled Zombi 2 without his knowledge or consent. His film is not a direct sequel to Dawn or any other living dead film. In fact, given the story, it would be more a prequel to the 1978 classic. When the film did cross the seas to play in the States, it kept the general idea of its moniker and became Zombie (1979). The film begins and ends in New York City but takes place mostly on a remote island with its lead characters looking for lost relatives, encountering the living dead and fighting for the lives.

“We are going to eat you!” – the poster tagline grabs its audience from the very get-go.

The Grue-crew explore the film, tackling Fulci’s filming techniques, the acting, the dubbing, the gore, and so much more. The film is iconic with its scenes of zombie horror. If not the underwater zombie-vs-shark scene, then the Spanish Conquistadors rising from the grave to attack our heroes, including the famous zombie with the worms swarming out if its eye socket. Fulci also seems to have a fetish for eyes as the scene with the splinter is intense even today. The gore is plentiful and the final battle in the church turned hospital is non-stop white-knuckle intense. Bill Mulligan even starts off the podcast by suggesting that Fulci’s Zombie is a favorite even over Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. What’s interesting about these zombies is that they are a mix of pre-70s voodoo zombies and modern Romero-ghoul zombies. The cast features Tisa FarrowIan McCullochRichard Johnson (…remember him from The Haunting 1963?).

We want to hear from you – the coolest, grooviest fans:  leave us a message or leave a comment on the site or email the Decades of Horror 1970s podcast hosts at docrotten@decadesofhorror.com.