Monday, 11 June 2012

5 Classic Haunted House Movies!

Like every kid, at one time or another I thought my house was haunted.  I would never wanted to go down into the basement and I hated going upstairs in the dark at night by myself.  It was an old house and like many haunted houses in the movies, it came with a lot of creaking floors, cold spots and even my bedroom closet door would creak open in the middle of the night, so really any kid with a healthy (or unhealthy) imagination would find my house supernaturally creepy.  Also, watching scary movies didn't help.

Most Haunted House movies before 1944 were either comedies, with silly ghosts running about or the end of the film ended up as people playing a practical joke on their friend or a crime flick with the house was part of some elaborate crime operation, that was trying to keep people away from the criminals base of operations. Then Paramount produced one of the first films, "The Uninvited" which portrayed the haunting as being a supernatural event.  From there, we've seen dozens of films, some good and some not so good, take that premise and run with it.

Here are 5 Classic Haunted House Movies!

5. House (1986) - Roger Cobb has some problems.  He is successful horror author, who is trying to write about his experience in Vietnam war.  Also, he is divorced from his celebrity wife and he lost his son in the house his aunt lives in.  So, when he finds out that his aunt has hung herself, he moves right in to finish his book.  After he moves in, he notices strange things happening around the house and that there is a creature or creatures that live in a closet upstairs.  This doesn't stop him from babysitting other people children or inviting George Wendt up for a beer.  You always invite George Wendt for a beer! Always!  Eventually, he realizes the place is haunted and he has to put a stop to it.  Steve Miner, who previously directed Friday the 13th Part 3, dishes out this acceptable horror comedy.  I remember loving this movie as a kid but unlike Poltergeist, it doesn't hold up as well.  Still enjoyable enough, seeing Richard Moll and George Wendt ham it up and the house monsters are done up nicely.  However, there seems to be an issue with time of day because there seems to be shots where it's night, but there is some heavy duty sunlight coming through the windows.  It's quirky, and has a few laughs, worth a watch.

4. Hausu (1977) - Gorgeous is excited to spend her vacation with her dad, however when she finds out her dad is bringing his girlfriend, she decides she doesn't want to go.  She asks her six friends if they want to go to her aunt's house during the summer.  They say sure and head out to the country.  Little do they know that the house is haunted and plans to devour them.  This Japanese film is a fun mess.  Apparently, no director wanted to touch the script after it was green lit and then after 2 years,  the producer, Nobuhiko Obayashi ended up taking the director's chair.  The film has some interesting editing effects and there is no lack of poor green screening here.  The story seems to be held together by a shoe string plot and when the ending arrives, you're scratching your head.  However, with that said, I really did love it!  The scenes where the house comes alive and start attacking the girls, is fun and silly.  There is also copious amounts of blood and at one point they are literally swimming in it.  If you like crazy Japanese horrors than you should definitely give this a spin.

3. 13 Ghosts (1960) - The Zorba family inherit a haunted house from their reclusive uncle Dr. Plato Zorba.  The ghosts can only be seen using the special glasses that Dr. Zorba invented and if that wasn't enough, there is a hidden treasure that is lost in the house somewhere and someone else is willing to kill for it.  This is another great William Castle classic, with gimmick glasses to boot.  Using the Illusion-O glasses you could opt to be "brave" and see the blue tinted ghosts, even though you could see the ghosts with or without the glasses, allowing it to be played on television for years.  Fun film, very silly and great watch.

2. The Haunting (1963) - After learning the creepy past of Hill House, Dr. Markway puts together a team to investigate the house to see if it's haunted.  He is allowed to investigate the house as long as the future inheritor, Luke Sanderson, can come along to make sure everything is on the up and up.  Unfortunately for Dr. Markway only two members of the team decided they were brave enough to show up; Theodora, a bitchy, psychic with some lady leanings and Eleanor, who had been taking care of her invalid mother until her recent passing.  Eleanor takes a liking to Hill House right away and starts believing that she has found a new home.  Can this team endure the bumps and bangings in the night and prove there are ghosts before madness overcomes them in Hill House.  Director Eric Wise (The Day the Earth Stood Still, Sound of Music) does a brilliant job in creating a classic haunted house picture.  The exteriors of the house were shot in infra-red to make it look more like a monster house.  Julie Harris is superb playing Eleandor, as she descends in madness or is the house really eating away at her.  There is no bloody scenes nor is there a body count, but it isn't really necessary.  The house is creepy and will leave a chill in your bones.

1. Poltergeist (1982) - Steve and Diane Freeling live with their three children in a wonderful planned community or so they thought until their daughter Carol Anne started talking to the snow on the television.  Shortly after that, there were weird rumblings in the house and furniture moving by itself.  Then one night the tree outside attacks their son, Robbie in his bedroom and as Steve and Diane run out to save him, the house abducts Carol Ann.  The family is devastated and turn to a group of paranormal investigators to help them get their daughter back from this evil house.  One of my all time favourite films, Poltergeist is a film that truly stands the test of time.  Written by Steven Spielberg and directed (questioningly) by Tobe Hooper, this film is the best haunted house films ever made.  Excellent special effects, some really gory scenes and the use of real skeletons, because they were less expensive, really brings this movie together.  Craig T. Nelson and Jo Beth Williams are on the top of their games as the distraught parents of Carol Ann, giving some of the most heart wrenching dialogue ever,  that as a parent, it made me teary eyed.  If you haven't seen this, than you should.  This is text book horror and a film that really scares, even by today's standards.

I love the idea that restless spirits come back from the grave and use the house as a conduit to torment the people.  So the next evening you're at home and a chill cuts through you like a knife, or you can hear banging in the middle of the night, don't be so sure it's the house settling because it may be settling on you.

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