Have you ever wanted to discuss the differences between a book and its movie rendition? Here’s your chance! Upstate Films and Oblong Books are partnering to bring you ADAPTATIONS — a series of combined book groups and screenings of select adapted works.
To kick off the series this Halloween, and to celebrate Shirley Jackson’s centennial, Oblong is organizing a book group around her 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House. And Upstate will host a screening & discussion of its equally mesmerizing 1963 film adaptation on October 30th at 2pm in Rhinebeck. The screening is open to all. But if you’d like to join the book group, simply read the book, or check out Shirley Jackson’s new biography, click here.
One of the most famous haunted house movies ever made, the story follows a small psychic research team as they gather at a New England mansion to investigate its evil reputation. Included in the group are an anthropology professor (Richard Johnson), a spinster who is haunted by the death of her mother (Julie Harris), a young woman with an extraordinary sense of ESP (Claire Bloom), and the property’s heir (West Side Story’s Russ Tamblyn). An eclectic group, they are there for personal reasons, and tensions mount between them from the outset. But their uneasiness grows when things start to bump around in the night. As the characters question one another’s perceptions of reality, screenwriter Nelson Gidding makes it clear that his interpretation of Jackson’s story is as much about mental breakdown as it may be about ghosts. But what makes the film so effective is not only the group’s slightly sinister characterization. It’s the fact that director Robert Wise makes the house itself a central character. A highly atmospheric entity with its angled corners and Rococo style, the house becomes a genuinely monstrous personality that endangers the lives of those who pass through it. Whether it makes you smile or gives you a fright with its brooding atmosphere, psychological insights, and suddenly executed surprises, this old horror remains as vital as the day it was made.
(USA, UK / 1963 / Directed by Robert Wise)
G / 113 mins.