One of the first horror films I remember sneaking to watch on late night television as a child was the Amityville Horror and I'm quite fond of this one but it wasn't until I got to college that I came to appreciate some of the haunted house films that came before and are still give me the creeps today.
The Haunting, 1963, is without a doubt my all-time favorite. Based on the 1959 novel "The Haunting Of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson, its the story of a paranormal investigative team coming to investigate the eerie Hill House mansion. Many say that Psycho was the first film to break the bonds of "subliminal" horror with its notorious shower scene and I would tend to agree. But what amazes me about The Haunting, released 2 years after Psycho, is that director Robert Wise reverted back to the classic formula of implied and unseen horror that makes a haunted house movie so much fun to begin with!
I first watched the Haunting in a college film genre study class... I was a film major in college and as luck would have it I just happened to take this course when the genre was horror, I probably would have detested this class if I had been stuck with it the previous semester when the genre of contemplation was musicals!
Anyway, the course description was simple enough... come to the auditorium, watch a horror film once a week, spend the rest of the week waxing poetically about camera angles, direction, screenwriting, artsy implied theories about intent, genre mirroring societal beliefs and concerns, etc. and deliver an 8-10 page paper the next week. I was always enthusiastic about Film Genre Studies and had no problem consuming the pictures with a scholastic eye and a purely unconscious huge smile on my face.
When we got to The Haunting, the scholarly half of my brain grabbed his textbooks and ran screaming from the theater! I was completed engrossed in the story, the characters, the creepy goings on inside Hill House and the nervous sweaty palms they induced.
When the lights came back up I was ready to just hop out of my seat and make my way toward the exit... because I had enjoyed the film so much I had forgotten that I was in class and this was required viewing for an actual grade. I was unable to contribute anything to the post-film analysis and discussion because I had inadvertently watched the entire movie with my "film-maker eyes" tightly shut!
Needless to say, I had to desperately seek out a VHS copy of the film at the local artsy video store because when I needed to write about The Haunting on an analytical level. Actually I had to watch it two more times and pay the late fee because I got wrapped up in the plot line again during the second viewing in my dorm.
I also love 1973s The Legend Of Hell House based on the same Shirley Jackson novel and 1976s Burnt Offerings based on Robert Marasco's 1973 novel of the same name and whose trailer is attached to the next track in the Spooktacular, which we'll get to immediately because I know but you're not here to listen to me ramble!
This one comes from the Dynamites and the legendary King Tubby and is borrowed from the Pressure Sounds LP Sound System International Dub. The song is called "House Of Darkness," and it works brilliantly with our theme here! The album itself is phenomenal! Pressure Sounds' website sums it up nicely by saying this about the release...
‘Sound System International' is a Clancy Eccles produced dub set featuring ten thrilling King Tubby’s deconstructions of a selection of Dynamites rhythms where Tubbs spins the tunes around and comes up with something very, very special. as he takes these straight forward reggae songs, turns them upside down and on to somewhere completely different.With the haunted house embellishments throughout I'm sure you'll enjoy the end result of "House Of Darkness." But just like me years ago with The Haunting, repeated listening may be required in order to properly analyze this one! Have your papers on my desk Monday morning and have a great weekend!