Quantcast Trilogy Pics - 3 Movies You Should Watch Tonight: APRIL 2006 - CLASSY GHOST STORIES



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April. 2006 Trilogy Pics:
April 2006: Classy Ghost Stories

The Haunting (1963)

Often genre films from 40+ years ago don't retain their effectiveness on a modern audience. Especially if they're in black and white, with no real special effects, and are of the too often hokey haunted house genre. The 1963 adaptation of the Shirley Jackson novel "The Haunting of Hill House" however remains highly effective terror.

For one, it's just a great story and setup: Hill House has a history of death, violence, and misery. 90 years after it's built, it's a haunted legend and a paranormal investigator wants to see if he can't stir something up. He recruits two women, Theo, a psychic, and Eleanor, a 30-something neurotic with a history of poltergeist phenomena. Also staying is Luke, a non-believer who's set to inherit Hill House. Everything in Hill House is built wrong. The house is purposely designed to be an angle off here, an inch off there. Doors close by themselves because they're off-center, iron staircases are barely screwed into the walls. Nobody will come near the place after dark, even the housekeepers leave promptly at 6pm. All this sets up great atmosphere for the ghostly happenings to come in the film.

When they do come it's loud, crashing noises, objects moving, doors that breathe. It's all very low-tech, but under the hand of director Robert Wise ("The Sound of Music", "Star Trek: The Motion Picture"), and thanks to the performances of Julie Harris and Claire Bloom the nights in Hill House are incredibly creepy and unnerving. During its scary scenes you can see how parts of this film were almost transposed shot-for-shot into Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead" films. I was utterly amazed to find myself lowering into my seat waiting for the next shock and scare. The 1999 remake of this film relied on impressive sets and special effects to try to drum up scares and came across campy and
unintentionally funny. This version is much more serious in tone, and very scary. It should be in every horror fans DVD collection.

The Innocents (1961)

The 60's were a good time for these kinds of movies, I guess. Two years before "The Haunting" came "The Innocents". Based on a novel, this time Henry James' classic ghost story "The Turn Of The Screw" with a screenplay by the noted Truman Capote ("In Cold Blood", "Breakfast at Tiffany's"). This film is a bit slower in pace than something like "The Haunting", but the real star of the picture are the performances of two creepy kids and the great black and white cinematography by Freddie Francis ("The Elephant Man", "Dune", and Scorsese "Cape Fear").

"The Innocents" concerns Deborah Kerr as a woman who becomes the nanny to two children. She becomes convinced either there is something wrong with the children, the house is haunted, or both. If you were a fan of 2003's creepy "The Others", than you'd probably be very interested in this. Also-if you're a fan of this story you might also want to check out 1972's "The Nightcomers", a prequel of sorts to "Turn of the Screw" starring a very "screwy" Marlon Brando.

Burnt Offerings (1976):

Look, "Burnt Offerings" isn't really a very good movie. Slow, a little dullish, maybe not the best performances Oliver Reed or Bette Davis ever gave. In fact, for this month's pics the third ghost story was going to be "The Entity", but then I read that "Burnt Offerings" director and "Dark Shadows" creator Dan Curtis passed away. This is to honor a horror legend. In "Burnt Offerings" Karen Black, Oliver Reed, along with their son, and mother (Bette Davis) rent a country house from Burgess Meredith. Well, they've never seen the "The Sentinel" and don't know that Burgess Meredith and real estate-not such a great idea. The decrepit house and its dead vegetation gradually begin to come to life, as the family inhabiting gradually begin to psychologically and physically deteriorate. There are some neat bits in the film involving a killer swimming pool and a creepy hearse driver, but that's about it. Most distracting is the photography. It's filmed in a supposedly artsy fuzzy "dreamlike" style that looks like somebody kept touching the camera lens. It was apparently a hit when originally released, and is something of a cool '70's pop-horror relic. Not highly recommended, but if you can catch it on cable this month you could do worse than waste
90 minutes with it.

Honorable Mention:

The Entity (1981): As mentioned above this was one of my original pics. I was stuck, but this isn't exactly a "classy" film, as the subject matter revolves around an invisible "entity" that repeatedly attacks and rapes Barbara Hershey. So.I had to pass on this month. However, it is a much scarier ghost story than something like "Burnt Offerings". A highly recommended film that remains criminally overlooked by horror fans. More on this in future Trilogy pic. - mikec.


In the beginning just remember it was darked and then someone smiled! try this:

Whoever said nothing was impossible never tried slamming a revolving door. :)

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