When I was a little girl, my mother would occasionally let me stay up on Saturday night and watch the weekly scary movie. One such Saturday, I saw the movie The House on Haunted Hill for the first time. Seriously, can anyone be scarier than Vincent Price? Wua hahahaha.
I have watched this movie a couple of times as an adult, and while the special effects are considerably less than special in comparison to movies made now, it is just a scary movie.
Because I liked The House on Haunted Hill, when the book The Haunting of Hill House came to my attention (Amazon? Goodreads? Pinterest?), I looked into it. While the story is not exactly the same, the movie clearly took its lead from Shirley Jackson’s creepy story.
Dr. Montague studies the phenomenon of ghosts. As part of his studies, he brings together a group of three – his assistant Theodora; Luke, who will eventually inherit the house; and Eleanor, who has had experiences with ghosts in the past. His idea is to bring the ghosts out into the open so that he can study them.
The book is creepy, there is no question about it. Written in 1959, it reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock’s famous Psycho, considered by many to be one of the scariest movies of all time. There is no blood and gore, no one gets slashed, there are not even any actual appearances by ghosts. There are only noises in the old mansion, and cold spots and drafts that indicate the ghosts’ presence. More than just a ghost story, this is the story of a vulnerable woman going mad.
Despite the lack of blood and gore, the book KEPT ME AWAKE AT NIGHT, ladies and gentlemen. It was creepy beyond belief.
I LOVED it.
The book was actually made into a movie, though not The House on Haunted Hill. Two movies, in fact. The original was released in 1963 and starred Julie Christie as Eleanor. It is apparently much better than the movie re-released in 1999.
Having read the book, I think I will pass on the movie, thank you very much. I can only lose so much sleep.