Horror Films that Every Self Respecting Gay Man Should See: The Haunting

* an ongoing project for Gay Pride Month

Film: The Haunting

Director: Robert Wise

Stars: Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn.

In a Nutshell: Three people are chosen by a parapsychologist to spend some time in an allegedly haunted house to observe whatever strange events they might encounter.  Breathing doors, ghostly voices, and spectral graffiti greet them; and one of the guests gets much more than they bargained for.

What's So Gay About It?: Bitch Please!  Besides the director who had previously given the world, West Side Story - and would then deliver, The Sound of MusicThe Haunting featured a major character who was not only a fabulous fashion horse, she was also a lesbian!  Claire Bloom as Theo was the sexiest sister of Sappho to come along in like, forever!  Not only was she well coiffed, she was also taken with the film's most disturbed character, Nell (Julie Harris).  Poor Nell, desired by a lesbian, in love with a married man, and carrying around enough guilt to power the entire Catskills resort community  for a season and a half is a hot mess.  In fact, Hill House seems to focus it's demonic energies on her alone, making her more batty than she already is.  Make no mistake, Julie Harris OWNS this movie, and she's one pathetic little time-bomb of pent up sexual frustration and anger just waiting to blow up - happily, that haunted estate is more than eager to assist her to this end.  Oh, and keep an eye out for Russ Tamblyn, who seems to be wearing the same skin tight pants he danced around in from West Side Story - just sayin' is all.
Cool Stuff: This tidbit from IMDB: Claire Bloom was intrigued to the play the role of a woman who was attracted to another woman. She said she got along with everyone on the set, except for Julie Harris, who tried everything to avoid her and not talk to her. At the end of the shoot, Harris went over to Bloom's house with a present and explained that the reason she had kept to herself was to stay in character, because Harris' role in the film was that of an outsider that none of the others understand or will listen to. Bloom was happy to hear the real reason behind Harris' behavior, since Bloom stated that she really liked Harris and could not understand what she herself had done wrong to be treated like that by her co-star.
Gay Quotability: The world is full of inconsistencies. Full of unnatural beings, nature's mistakes they call you for instance! 


Anonymous said...

And if you like hot bearish daddies, Dr, Markway is irresistible.

Pax Romano said...


Of course, how I could forget the good doctor - damn, and I also forgot to mention the creepy Mrs. Dudley: "In the dark, in the night..."

Prospero said...

I firmly believe this is the scariest movie ever made. Without actually seeing any ghosts or ghostly phenomena (except that pulsing door!), Wise uses atmosphere and the power of his audience's imaginations (along with several exceptional performances) to create an exceptionally creepy movie.

Pax Romano said...

Prospero, with out a doubt this is one of the most nerve racking films of all time.

Monster Scholar said...

God help me, but I liked the remake and will definitely check out the original thanks to your intervention.

Pax Romano said...

MS, Oh the original gets everything right that the remake got wrong. No real special effects, no ridiculous plot about child labor, no room with a lake and books to walk on...sorry if you liked the remake, but the original is brilliant.

Kevin F said...

I think this is one of the truly great horror films of all times. Thanks for the write up.

Jack Veasey said...

This has always been one of my favorites. I share Nell's yen for Dr. Markway too. Richard Johnson, who played him, still looked hot in "Zombie" all those years later -- albeit in a disheveled and disillusioned way.

This is also one of the few times a movie really lived up to a great book. Too bad the remake wasn't better -- I had higher hopes for it because Lili Taylor was in it.

Pax Romano said...

The remake was pure drivel. A classic case of "leave well enough alone".