Davis, de Havilland, Flynn, Cagney, Bogart ...

Davis, de Havilland, Flynn, Cagney, Bogart ...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My First Article For ClassicBecky's Brain Food, 2 Years Ago Today--"The Most Terrifying Book I Have Ever Read"


Then as now ... autumn is my time
Two years ago today, October 6, 2009, I posted my first article on my new blog.  I wrote about my favorite book of fright, which also was made into the best supernatural horror movie ever made, in my opinion -- The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson.  So, without further ado, I am re-printing that inaugural article for ClassicBecky's Brain Food, just for auld lang syne ...
  
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10/6/09
It's October, the wind is sighing through trees, leaves are swirling and the night seems darker somehow.  Halloween is coming with its reminders of the demonic and divine.  This is the perfect time to scare yourself to death with one of the best horror novels ever written.


Shirley Jackson, Author
Shirley Jackson wrote The Haunting of Hill House in 1959, and readers ever since have found themselves unable to put down the book even though goosebumps literally run up and down their arms and they are reluctant to look behind them.  Director Robert Wise was given the book to read in 1962 by a friend.  He took it into his office and sat down to read.  He was about half way through when the friend came into his office and spoke.  Wise jumped halfway out of his chair.  He told the friend "I'm going to make a movie of this."


The Haunting of Hill House is the quintessential haunted house story.  The book tells of Dr. Montague, a parapsychologist, who has brought together three people to stay with him in the massive house, the reputation of which is so bad that people from the nearby village will barely speak of it, and never go there.  Since the death of the original owner, the house has been unoccupied because no one who has ever tried has been able to stay.  According to the professor, the house is diseased, leprous with the evil of the man who built it, Hugh Crane.  It is his determination to record the supernatural activity in the house in pursuit of proof of "the other side."


Dr. Montague and his invited guests Eleanor, Theodora and Luke, find their deepest fears and sensitivities challenged by the chilling atmosphere of the house.  Eleanor is a lonely, shy woman, insecure and vulnerable.  Theo is a bright, vivacious woman with the gift of ESP.  Luke is the nephew of the house's current owner, and only sees the house as a future gold mine for himself.  The relationships between these four people, the imposing housekeeper, Mrs. Dudley and her caretaker husband, and the addition of Dr. Montague's wife, a medium, and her stuffy friend Arthur, are all changed by their stay in the house.  The insensitive suffer no ill effects, but others are not so lucky. 


I will not go further into the plot, because it is exactly the events that transpire in the house that will give you the heebie-jeebies.  No spoilers here!  Robert Wise did indeed make the movie in 1963, called simply The Haunting.  It had a stellar cast, with Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson and Russ Tamblyn. The four main characters were altered in personality and relationship, others were changed or completely left out, and for some unknown reason the doctor's name is changed to Markway.  However, the movie is a stunning experience of terror, and does justice to Shirley Jackson's magnificent writing.


Do yourself an October favor and get The Haunting of Hill House.  Read it at night with just one reading light on.  Then turn on all the lights before you go to sleep, and don't forget to keep your hands well under the covers.....
10/6/09
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It's been a real journey during the two years since I made this first attempt.  I knew only a few people who had come together at the TCM site, and decided to break off and make a group of our own, inspired and led by Rick of Classic Film and TV Cafe.  We are still friends, and have made so many others as the Classic Movie Blog Association grew to the wonderful group it is today.  I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time, meeting the right people and finding something I love to do.  Happy autumn, everyone!  Don't forget to read this book, see the movie, and find out, in the words of the great Vincent Price, "how wonderful it is to be scared to death."

15 comments:

  1. Another, thing i love to do is time of year. Is to get comfortable on the sofa with a cup of hot tea and a book..thanks for the tip on the lights 8-O

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  2. Becks you are so right. The Robert Wise film is excellent. But void the remake AT ALL COST.

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  3. Paul, you are so right. That remake was absolutely HORRENDOUS. All it really kept were the names and the title. The special effects reminded me of a Disney spookhouse, really dumb.

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  4. Becky,
    Of course I've seen the movie with you, but I have never read the book. I am definitely getting a hold of a copy to read for the Halloween season. Sounds like one of those books that puts your senses on edge, where you swear you see things in the shadows. Who knows, maybe there were things in the shadows all along and we just need a priming to be made aware :0

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  5. BEcky: You know this is one movie I cannot and will never watch alone. The only other movie that had such an impact was Sixth Sense esp. the scene where something runs down the hall when the kid's in the bathroom! And the book that scared me out of my wits was The Amityville Horror when the voice said "GET OUT!" Good site! Fun to read!

    Amy

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  6. Becky, what a long time ago it seems like we all met at the TCM forum and then the Cafe and eventually the CMBA. We owe a lot to Rick.

    I don't like a lot of horror, especially when it comes to books, but The Haunting is really creepy. You do well to recommend it and the book that spawned it.

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  7. Becky, lucky for me you were in the right place at the right time! Otherwise, I would not be enjoying your wonderful posts. This was a great post as an inaugural, as it seems to be a theme that really resonates with you. Looking forward to all that is to come!

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  8. Becks, It's been a pleasure since the early days at the CFU through the BC Thing, and the early days at the Cafe till now. Joann and I love giving a "rough time" at Trivia Time I hope you know we love you to bits. Now if you could only get over this Car 54 thing. LOL.

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  9. KIM: It seems like we've known each other a lot longer, doesn't it? I'm glad to have been part of such a core group of smart, funny people...
    FLICKCHICK: You totally belong right in here! I'm glad you liked the post - I've learned a lot since then, but I think it's not half-bad!
    PAUL: Dear Paul, my very first friend at TCM, my first friend period in the movie bunch! I adore you and Joann, you've never given me a hard time, just a fun time, and I will NEVER change my mind about Car 54...LOL!

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  10. What a great story! You had great talent even 2 years ago. Where does the time go!!!

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  11. Hi Lobosc! I came over to put a scarier tree picture at the top and saw your comment. How nice of you! As for time, it just seems to telescope with every passing year! LOL!

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  12. Time flies when you're having fun, Beck. That's for sure. :)

    And what's more fun than blogging about things you love?

    Well, I could name a couple of things, but let's not go there.

    Loved reading about this movie that I saw so many many years ago. I only remember Julie Harris and her painted toe nailes going up the stairs. Ha!

    Russ Tamblyn?

    Don't know if I have the fortitude to watch this again. But I might read the book.

    I'm watching THE UNINVITED this year for Halloween. My favorite ghost story because it doesn't give me a heart attack. :)

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  13. What a wonderful idea to go back in time, and equally wonderful to find a timeless review of a classic story.

    I am happy to hear of the journey that brought you to this place.

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  14. YVETTE-love the remark about Julie Harris' toenails! That movie scared me to death. So did the book, reading it alone at night! Don't you remember Russ Tamblyn in it-he was so funny, played Luke, always the disbeliever (until things really got going!) I LOVE The Uninvited - just watched it the other night! One of my favorites!
    CW-I'm really glad you liked the review. It's weird reading your first attempt - I haven't looked back at it for quite a long time. I'm glad to have come to this place, meeting friends like you...

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  15. Becky, you're a wonderful writer, and after reading your HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE post, I can see that you were always talented -- you go, girl! I confess I've never read the book, but I think I'm gonna have to borrow it from our local library. I loved the film THE HAUNTING; Julie Harris broke my heart, she was so good. But don't get me started on the ridiculous remake! Lili Taylor was terrific, but otherwise it felt like a amusement park ride in a BAD way!

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