Today horror is equated with gore and photogenic stumps interacting with CGI. If the ‘entity’ isn’t shown readers, viewers are disappointed. This resulted in endless bad creature costumes (how hilarious is Mothra as a creature). All too often the ‘entity’ was more important than the actual story & dialogue. In so many horror films all that changed were the actors & the entity. The story & dialogue were basically the same.
A fact I didn’t realize until I was an adult. Some of those films, books, hold up, others well, haven’t dated so well. The original Frankenstein film hasn’t been improved upon with better effects, better monster make up. None of text have added any real depth to the film. The actual Shelly novel is as much a philosophical treatise as it is a thriller. The creature is more intellectual than allowed in most of the film variations.
I recently watched The Haunting – based on Shirley Jackson novel. I have seen this film several time but each time I see different elements. Also I watched it with a friend who has never seen it before. I also should add that I have read the novel more than once, read other work by Jackson & back in 1991 I directed a stage version – so I am familiar with it.
Horror, the supernatural, & to a degree gore, have been inspirations for me since I was a child. Having a cemetery, managed by my father, as a playground growing up certainly added to that interest. Oddly I never did become a goth. But I certainly loved monsters the Mummy, Wolfman, Dracula – these were the supernatural creatures. Creature from the Black Lagoon, Them, Godzilla – where environmental monsters thanks to toxic chemical, nuclear radiation.
The horror of The Haunting maybe man made: something that manifests from our personal inner turmoil, or from another’s inner turmoil seeking revenge, release, completion or to teach us a lesson as in A Christmas Carol. The Haunting sets the bar high & very few films have succeeded as it has. Jackson’s novel sketches in vague scientific speculation but leaves the rest up to us.
Later versions of movie parapsychology have added more equipment, better fx but no increase in the spook factor. I also find even Jackson relies too much on psychology to semi-explain things. Eleanor arrives already emotionally unbalance. The ambiguity of whether she looses touch with reality or has intact been absorbed by the spirits of the house is the spooky thrust of the story.
Without this film & this novel, we’d wouldn’t have an endless parade of novels about parapsychological investigators suffering for their research, or an endless parade of reality TV shows about parapsychologic investigators with bad hand-held cameras, whispering ‘did you hear that?’ in night vision lighting.
I would highly recommend both seeing the original The Haunting & reading Jackson’s novel ‘The Haunting Of Hill House.’ They complement each other. They also show how eerie chills can be created without monsters, cgi or dismemberment.
Maple Ridge Road
people told us
the abandoned Macintosh mansion
at the end of Maple Ridge Road
but we didn’t believe them
so on the last full moon of October
Davey, Martin and me
we snuck into the house
and were never seen again
every Tuesday 2019
15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible
June – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C. capfireslam.org