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THE HAUNTING (1999) review

You know I’m a bit angry at THE HAUNTING that’s coming out this upcoming weekend. You see, I just got out of it, and it’s far better than I thought it would be.

Yeah, I know I’ve been praising the David Self script for quite some time now, but I was nearly positive that Jan De Bont was going to completely screw this film up.

Even when I heard that fantastic cast was attached. I knew De Bont would find a way to screw it up. And then when that fantastic Eugenio Zanetti, who designed heaven and hell in WHAT DREAMS MAY COME, got involved I still had no faith. When Gary Rydstrom signed on to handle the sound work, I began to have a little bit of faith. Then Tippett Studio was commissioned to make us believe a house could breathe. And lastly... When Jerry Goldsmith was announced, I began getting really curious.

But still... With all of those immensely talented people involved I knew Jan De Bont would screw it up. I mean... He makes nice enough looking pictures but you know... his characters just don’t LIVE on screen. And for a haunted house film. You have to begin with your characters... your actors. The flashy effects work is secondary.

And ya know what? That’s what Jan did. The Effects work is sooooo secondary that we pretty much have to wait till the third act till we get to see any of it. And believe me, Tippett’s work on this movie is wonderful. Hell, KNB’s crew did a gangbuster job on their practical effects work as well.

But where I thought De Bont would drop the ball.... instead, I feel that it was the unnamed player on this film that dropped the game winning touchdown pass.

I am speaking of Steven Spielberg. I’ve heard rumors about Steven’s involvement on THE HAUNTING, and after seeing the film, I can sense his fingerprints all over the last 10 minutes of this wondrous movie. You’ll recognize that fingerprint when you see it... We’ve seen it in the funeral scenes in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and SCHINDLER’S LIST. From HOOK to AMISTAD... Why do I pin this one on Steven?

Well, watch that last ten minutes and tell me you don’t think that’s Spielberg’s work. Who knows... Maybe it was just De Bont pulling a spielberg, but ...

Now... I don’t want you to think this is a bad movie. FAR FROM IT. This movie is immensely entertaining. Beyond that Lili Taylor is, as always, just a wonder to behold on screen, though she is better in A SLIPPING DOWN LIFE which hopefully you’ll see later this year!

I love Haunted House movies, and I’ve always wanted to see one produced to the nines and with all the stops pulled out. At the same time I love the restraint that Robert Wise used in creating DREAD and FEAR in his 1963 THE HAUNTING.

Well, this movie goes a long ways towards combining the two. For the first 4/5ths of the movie, there are very very very few visual effects. This is not to say there are no effects. Quite the contrary, but most of these are mind games via KNB effects and Zanetti’s house then most importantly the work of Gary Rydstrom.

Liam Neeson is by leaps and bounds far out acting his Jedi performance earlier this year... Of course he isn’t in a lightsaber battle, but I’ll pit his encounter with the fountain in this movie or his chair/window problems.

Catherine Zeta Jones can not act, or at least doesn’t seem to be able to... However... ahem... that being said, gosh... watching her walk about Hill House just made me drool at the scenery. Man.... whatta babe.

Owen Wilson is playing the exact same character that he played in ARMAGEDDON, and like in that film, I adore him in this film as well. He is, quite tolerable and enjoyable, comedy relief... And in this house... that is indeed needed.

Lili Taylor is allowed to shine as Eleanor. I find her fragile and quirky... a bit unhinged, yet... I felt the need to want to protect her. She brings out that sort of feeling out of me. And had she been given the character of Eleanor as written for Julie Harris in Wise’s Classic.... My god... Twould have been one of the screen’s great roles and performances.

Alas... We do not get that. I hate that we do not get to hear her internalized thoughts. In the script I didn’t miss them... but here... Everytime she verbalized what is normally an internal thought, I just cringed a bit. I wanted to hear her driving herself crazy with fear. Gone from this film is any ‘crush’ on the good Dr. Barely hinted at is the beach house.

I prefer this film to STAR WARS & THE MUMMY, but it suffers from some of the same problems that those two had, in the terms of it being a fun as hell popcorn movie.

This movie is not effects dependent. The movie is not created to move you from one set piece to the next. From one effects job to the next. The film does not begin with an explosion and get bigger.

Instead it follows the pattern of classic movies. It begins slowly. Getting us interested in the character. Then we’re taken into the house... a designing achievement of epic proportions. Once in the house, we’re treated with a slowly increasing experience of phenomenon. Be it creaking noise, to pounding hell. We see echoes of faces in cloth, shadows and breath upon clear glass. Subtle work.

And for the first 4/5ths of this movie it is as good as any cool scary movie you’ve ever seen. Then in that last 1/5th of the movie... They let loose the gorgon. The effects work was tremendous, but...

Hauntings are not happy stories. In fact they are inundated with profound sadness. That’s what makes them worth repeating. This isn’t fairy tale theater.

Now, I’m going to do something that I never ever do... and that’s discuss the ending of a movie. So please, if you wish to wait till after you’ve seen the movie... GO AWAY.... SCADADDLE, because I simply must discuss what could have been done and why their ending didn’t work for me.






Alright. You’re here so I feel no guilt about this. But the ‘semi- happy’ ending just about made me puke. Spielberg, (or De Bont... Whichever of you was responsible) listen to me. When dealing in stories of darkness... do not feel the necessity to bring lightness. Take a look at THE OMEN. Did they kill the anti-Christ? At the end of Robert Wise’s THE HAUNTING does Julie Harris’ death do anything other than highlight the tragedy and horror that lay within and around the haunting of Hill House?


Now I’m going to suggest a couple of different ideas for the end of this movie that... well, I just rattled together here.

Alright... Idea #1 and the lessor of the two I have come up with.

Luke has just escaped from Eleanor’s car. Theo notices that Eleanor has returned to the house. She, Luke and Marrow run to get her out. But the house won’t let them in. They scream and pound.... Trying to get in. But they are not getting anywhere.

Meanwhile inside Eleanor is screaming for Hugh Crane to face her. There in that gigantic chamber at the base of the stairs we see the ghost of Crane.... Huge... imposing... scary as hell. He picks up Eleanor... Tosses her about like a rag doll. The griffins and the lions and the other statues turn to watch. Following the action, but never moving from their perches. Crane is laughing... He’s happy, he has one last child to play with. We hear her screams of anguish.

Outside the door, Marrow, Theo and Luke hear hell within. Eleanor’s screams causing Theo and Luke to breakdown. Marrow is enraged. Throwing himself at the door. We hear his shoulder dislocate, we see him break his knuckles upon the door, the blood running down his arms... His face awash with anguish. And we hear Eleanor’s screams stop. There is no more noise from within.

The doors open. The three walk in and nothing is out of place. All is as it should be. They walk the house calling Eleanor’s name. They go into her room. She’s not there. But we see her... She is now amongst the cherubs... her face in bronze... forever a part of Hill House.

The three leave Hill House... broken. As they face the gates they see the sun rise, and somehow... if just a little. Hill House looks more foreboding than ever.

Now that’s one way I’d of done it. The other is to follow their plotline. Let the three back in the house after Eleanor. And Crane is after them. He’s playing his sick game of hide and seek. Everywhere they hide, he finds them. Finally they seek shelter behind the chains in the fireplace. That is when the gas jets ignite to roast them all alive.

The next morning we arrive at Hill House with MRS Dudley. She’s making her rounds. Dusting the house. Upon the door of Purgatory there are four new visages. Our characters. As MRS Dudley dusts them she frowns a bit... Maybe even a tear. She goes to turn.... Looks back at them and we hear her say....

“City folks....”

Now, I don’t know. I like these two endings. BUT I DO NOT LIKE CURING HILL HOUSE.

That house was born bad and it will die bad. You can’t cure it. Everything in it is twisted and evil. The way you beat it... is never to go in.


I know I might be a little angry sounding about this movie, but I really do like it (with the exception of the last 10-15 minutes). To me, it reminded me most of INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE. I love the vast majority of the movie, but the whole.... crossing the great seal bit.... and the falling nazis.... Ugh.

Overall an excellent film with a flaw that just pisses me off. I’d rank it after Wise’s THE HAUNTING, but ahead of THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE. I prefer POLTERGEIST and Koepp’s A STIR OF ECHOES.

But man... I tell you... if this is the least of the Haunted films we have.... We are indeed blessed. And I have to say I am very much looking forward to future work from De Bont.

And what is it about evil, kids and supernatural that makes Jerry Goldsmith become super-great. God I love his score for this movie. Afterwards I went to 4 different stores to buy it.

Ya know, I might grip a bit here and there about this movie, but I will own this on DVD the day it is released. I'm going to see it at least once more this weekend. And after EYES WIDE SHUT, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, A STIR OF ECHOES, SOUTH PARK THE MOVIE and AUSTIN POWERS 2.... This movie is right there for me on the summer list. Now, I'm expecting to love RUN LOLA RUN this Friday (finally coming to town) but there have been a lot of films that I have just adored this summer. Over time... I think I'll end up vegging out to this one quite a lot. But I'll always scream at the ending they stuck this with. "It coulda been a contenda... It coulda been... the best" ARGH!

Harry out

Readers Talkback
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  • July 21, 1999, 2:43 a.m. CST

    Good Review (as usual)

    by Lawguy

    I guess that I'll actually have to see this movie before it comes on cable...

  • July 21, 1999, 3:10 a.m. CST

    Random comments

    by Vikram_Vampire

    I hope this film is as good (for eye-candy) as Harry makes it out to be - I adore films based around this subject matter and the closest we've had for awhile is The Frighteners - fun but a bit of a no-brainer. Oh, and i'm glad Harry pointed out that Catherine Zeta-Jones can't in fact act. I've been saying that for ages. While she looks good most of the time (apart from disturbingly sporting something of a five o'clock shadow in Entrapment)she really can't act. At all. And she's shagging Michael Douglas in a shallow-but-promising-looking attempt to hit the Schmollywood A-list. Grrrrr... bloody Welsh tart.

  • July 21, 1999, 4:14 a.m. CST


    by Kiwi-1

    In Speed, the train crashed outside a cinema showing 2001. In Twister, the drive-in was showing The Shining. And in Speed 2, Jason Patric watches Lolita. Is there any Kubrick reference in this one? Just wondering.

  • July 21, 1999, 4:41 a.m. CST

    Inner voice

    by pulpculture

    Actually, Julie Harris' inner monologue was the one thing I hated about Robert Wise' version. It's a classic example of sticking too close to the original. It works in the book because things like that simply work in print. On film, however, it comes across as excessive. Harris' facial expressions say it all, anyway. Oh, and one more thing: it's "Release the Kraken!" not "gorgon." Thank you.

  • July 21, 1999, 4:44 a.m. CST

    Happy Sappy Endings

    by JJ McClure

    I take your point about the ending there, tons 'a fun. Poltergiest has got a happy ending, remember? Sometimes you absolutely NEED an up ending to a film. Probably not in this case though...

  • July 21, 1999, 6:17 a.m. CST

    "Poltergeist" -- I beg to differ

    by Pope Buck 1

    "Poltergeist" did NOT have a "happy, sappy ending." Yes, they all got out of the house alive. But the house was completely destroyed/sucked into Neverwhere, and it was clear that the Frehling family, in addition to losing everything, was scarred for life. Not to mention that the evil house wasn't "cured" in "Poltergeist" -- the only solution, as Harry suggested in his review, was to Get Away and Never Come Back. If it had ended half an hour earlier, say, with the rescue of the little girl and Zelda Rubinstein saying "This house is clean," THEN it would have qualified. But not as the ending stands.

  • July 21, 1999, 6:30 a.m. CST

    Neeson's Qui Gon kicked ass, Harry!

    by Drath

    I'm disappointed in you today Harry. For one thing, I never thought you'd put down Catherine Zeta Jones only to shamelessly goggle at her body. Okay, yeah I knew you could do that, but I expected better of you. And now you're putting down the best part of Phantom Menace, ie Qui Gon's presence!? Please, take a rest.

  • July 21, 1999, 7:34 a.m. CST

    Not only did the ending suck, but the start does as well

    by Taffyguy

    Harry, I'm going to take umbridge with your review. Here goes: 1. The script sucked. That was some of the worst dialogue I have ever encountered. So much so that I thought they were joking. 2. Lili Taylor cannot act. Well, she can act but not really in anything i've seen lately. Her character made me sick to the stomach, was she crazy, was she sick, was she sane? Her performance was subtly shaded but too muddled. 3.You are right about the crappy ending, complete with no answers to any of the psudo questions raised by the crap ass script. If you cut out the beginning ten minutes and the ending ten this movie would have had me by the balls. Unfortunately I got into it too late and left it too soon. That house did rock though.

  • July 21, 1999, 7:42 a.m. CST


    by All Thumbs

    Harry, Harry, Harry... I do hope when you say that Catherine Zeta-Jones cannot act in this movie, you mean because of the script and the fact the movie does not give her a chance to. I think this woman, while very beautiful, is more than eye candy on the screen and has the ability to give a good first-rate story. That is, if she can stop getting cast as said eye candy and get a great script that stretches her talents. And I'm not talking about the visual ones...if you know what I mean and I think you do, to quote Joe Bob Briggs. There's nothing wrong with her being beautiful and a pretty picture to watch on the screen if she's acting as well, in this gal's opinion. And Harry, when are you going to respond to the chaos you created when you posted that 11th Hour link? Acknowledge us geek gals! Great review, thanks for the spoiler warnings...I can't wait to come back and see what you have to say about the ending when I see the movie. All Thumbs, over and out.

  • July 21, 1999, 7:55 a.m. CST

    by amy

  • July 21, 1999, 8:06 a.m. CST

    The Haunting

    by amy

    Okay I saw this movie at a critic's screening in LA, and let me just say it was one of the worst scripts I've ever seen! The audience laughed throughout the entire movie. At the end, one person clapped, and everyone else laughed! And this was an audience of critics! The acting was terrible and the dialogue was retarded. The best things about the movie were the visual f/x and the sound f/x. Other than that it was a HUUUUGE disappointment.

  • July 21, 1999, 8:15 a.m. CST

    Harry's Reviews

    by spike lee

    Posters are always yelling at Harry for giving positive reviews for every film he sees, and calling the man a sell out. HARRY JUST LOVES MOVIES AND CAN FIND A PIECE IN EVERY FILM THAT HE CAN HOLD ON TO! I wish more critics were like Harry and they still had their love of film. Today, most of the movies I see are worthless in my opinion, because I'm just burned out on them. I loved ever film I watched when I was 8 or 9, because I still had my love for the process. HARRY STILL HAS HIS LOVE FOR FILM AND I HOPE HE NEVER LOSES IT!

  • July 21, 1999, 8:16 a.m. CST

    Oh please! This movie SUCKS. BIGTIME.

    by Dathcha

    I cannot believe the above review. Fix it? Fuck that. Save money, make 600 prints, put it in domestic release for 1 week to satisfy contracts, dont show it to the press, and hope it just goes away. Poor Jannie... I dont know if the David Self script simply blew or the horror-terror-scare beats were simply missed by inferior directing, but this flat film really only has a audience comprised of architecture students, and art directors. You wanna fix- THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO MAKE THIS FILM ENJOYABLE- Pretend you are watching a sub-story of STAR WARS as Liam Neeson is in it and there is a character named 'LUKE". The majority of the failed scare beats are sounds, which are very similar to the sound of DARTH VADER through a big reverb. Maybe this piece of crap would work as a 12 minute Tales From The Crypt you would watch for the actors and a neat digital effect. AND THE SCORE AND THE CINEMATOGRAPHY? The shots show Jan has learned nothing from his own films, much less standard or even innovative shot construction of the genre (h-r-s). No terrifying leads, no ambigious omnious spaces, nothing. Pure crap. Shocking. What is the deal that the exterior li=ght sources were always at 2:00 AM or 3:00 PM? There are cascading beams of light the pour into the set and ARE ALWAYS AT THE SAME ANGLE. OK, and thanks for those really interesting and useful exterior establishing shots, phew! wasnt sure if it was night or day there, Jannie... I could carry on for a while but all I am saying is this one isn't really worth renting.. wait for the cable. You only need about 15 minutes of it anyway, pretty sets... blah blah...

  • July 21, 1999, 8:50 a.m. CST

    DwD: Harry, Why Do You Contradict Yourself?

    by DwDunphy

    I usually agree with you, Harry. I probably will agree on this too when I see 'The Haunting'. My problem is that, over time, you tend to contradict yourself. I could have sworn you posted a positive review of 'The Mummy', not a glowing review, mind you. I am aware of the multiple caveats and what not, but I could have sworn you gave it mixed blessings. Since then, it seems you've been doing your best to recant, busting on it at each turn. Same goes for Star Wars Episode One. I know you had your hopes up and, even though you don't say it right out, you were disappointed but you went on tangents about how folks should go see that one with "fresh eyes" and they'll truly appreciate it. Now, it's suffering 'Mummy's Syndrome' as well and you've been taking shots. I am not so juvenile as to think that all your opinions are changed because you got to see a "mature, important" movie (being EWS) and now you have graduated to cappucino from Yoo-Hoo. Not to make too big a deal of it, but the contradictions are galling.

  • July 21, 1999, 8:54 a.m. CST


    by dokden

    Wait, this movie is still rated PG-13 right? Alright, just making sure.

  • July 21, 1999, 9:08 a.m. CST

    * * FEAR ATTRACTS THE FEARLESS * * yes, i KNOW it's fearful so p

    by Darth Maui

    "I prefer The Haunting to The Mummy and STAR WARS" ummmm didn't Harry go apeshit about how good Star Wars was? "MESA LOVE JAR JAR BINKS" Remember that? That movie was a disappointment, but to classify it with The Mummy??? And this is AFTER you went nuts for it? Make up your mind PLEASE. I am getting soooo confused here. I always defend you on these talkbacks. I defend everyone who runs this site. Don't give me any "if you don't like it, don't read it" answers cuz I love the site... I love the news... but your reviews are bogus. Moriarty and Quint always praise and criticize a movie and then they STICK to it, but your opinions change so much that you just lose me. I'm not being rude... I'm just confused because you seemed to love TPM so much and now The Haunting is better? That must mean that The Haunting is really something, huh? Ok well whatever, I'll go back to bed....

  • July 21, 1999, 9:18 a.m. CST

    The Innocents

    by Irie

    Jack Clayton's "The Innocents" (based on Henry James' "Turn of the Screw") is FAR scarier and accomplished than Wise's "The Haunting." As is Robert Siodmak's "The Spiral Staircase." After hearing about "The Haunting" for years, I finally watched it and was very disappointed. When I showed the other two films to friends who talked me into seeing "The Haunting," they easily agreed with me. Here's hoping the new "Haunting" is better than the first!

  • July 21, 1999, 9:35 a.m. CST

    "better than Star Wars"??? MY ASS!!!!

    by quentin2

    What the fuck is goin on in that tiny brain of your's Harry?? The Phantom Menace kicked ass! And, YES, Haunting DID dissapoint! Quite a sucky film actually. And Liam Neeson??? He was playing a crappy mediochre role in this movie!!! Neeson's Qui-Gon Jinn DID kick ass, you IDIOT! PS: EWS was one of the best films of the year... I'm in messageboards all over the place discussing this complex masterpiece! Which is something few other films compel me to do! I definitley have to see it multiple times!

  • July 21, 1999, 9:46 a.m. CST

    Neeson and Jones

    by jorson2

    Harry, I agree that this movie HAS to have a better performance from Liam Neeson than was given in TPM. However, I don't think the shortcomings of his performance in TPM can be entirely blamed on him. You read the script. Those lines at the beginning -- especially between him and McGregor -- were horrible. And I can imagine how it must have been having to react to McGregor's delivery which, frankly, did not impress me at all. As far as Catherine Zeta Jones, I don't know how she gets her work to begin with. Frankly, I don't even think she's among the prettiest actresses around. Regardless of how well-done I thought the Zorro movie was, it had nothing to do with her. I know I'm being harsh, but these movie people have to quit putting appearances over performances.

  • July 21, 1999, 9:56 a.m. CST

    The Wise Film

    by Goodgulf

    I enjoyed the Wise version very much. I recently rented the tape and had my son watch it. He didn't like it. But still, the Wise version has been a critical favorite since it was made. The lack of SFX and the build up of terror through mood and sound without too many cheap "scare" scenes. The hand-holding scene with Julie Harris holding - what? We'll never know for sure. The film was confident enough in itself and the audience to us decide if the house was haunted. But it only works if you let it. I realized that watching it with my son on video in the absense of the right mood destroys the film. You have to WANT to be scared - and you will be. Perhaps I'm being overly kind to Wise's work. He certainly has made a blunder or two in his day. Star Trek-The Movie is one. Over inflated to the point of bursting, with a second hand script combining two of Star Treks worst TV shows and you get a lot of air. And the balloon doesn't even give you the delight of popping. It just loses air making that balloon sound like a very long fart. The Haunting at least popped the balloon at the end.

  • July 21, 1999, 10 a.m. CST

    CZ Jones and Lili

    by Bronson

    When's CZJ going to do a nude scene? I heard that the paparazzi snapped some topless shots of Miss Jones while she was vacationing with her new beau Michael Douglas. I would like to see those photos! As for Ms Taylor, I recall seeing a movie 4 or 5 years ago she was in where she walked topless out of a lake. Does anyone recall the name of this flick?. Her hooters are nice!

  • July 21, 1999, 10:04 a.m. CST

    Harry, Harry, Harry...........!

    by RodimusPrime

    Two things. #1 - I seriously doubt The Haunting will rank "better than Star Wars". Excuse me, but I doubt a haunted house movie with a "lame" as you put it ending will rank ahead of Lucas new classic. Indeed, in 10 years no one will even remember The Haunting, while Phantom Menace will be regarded with awe. I guarantee you this......................................................................#2 - 'The only way to beat an evil haunted house is not to go in' -- No, there is another way. You and a few buddies strap on your Positron Accellerator and attached Ion Rifle (otherwise known as a PROTON PACK), grab a few Portable Ectoplasmic Containment devices (read 'Traps'), hop in your refurbished 1967 Medical Examiner's wagon, cruise on over to the place, kick in the goddamn front door, and start unleashing some major fucking DEVASTATION on the poor undead bastards inside. THAT'S the other way to "beat" a haunted house, Harry. And afterwards, you kick back with a few brewskis and LAUGH!!!

  • July 21, 1999, 10:14 a.m. CST

    Haunting stuff

    by clancy021061

    I dont trust Jan to make anything but eye candy but it seems like hes pulling an Arnold and getting all the best talent around him to make a decent flick even though if he was left alone to make this thing it would be "Pippi goes bonkers in Hamstertown" or something. Im glad they left out the talking to herself stuff from the original. I thought it really messed up the creapiest scene from the original when the wall was moaning and a face sortof appeared while it was clutching her hand. Then came all this babbling. Shutup lady listen to the creepycrap in the walls!

  • July 21, 1999, 10:21 a.m. CST

    Saw it. Total Shitfest. And Catherine CAN act.

    by Rolande

  • July 21, 1999, 10:25 a.m. CST

    Saw it. Total Shitfest. And Catherine CAN act.

    by Rolande

    What on earth did you like about this movie?? Visually, the house was tremendous, high ceilings, expansive rooms, creepy statues. Ok, that was it. Buncha characters walking around, <yawn> with nothing to do. Zeta-Jones was a BRIGHT spot in this snoozer. Did they or did they not blatantly steal the same shitass effect from the Mummy where you see the guy's face in the sandstorm. How F!@#ing lame! You're telling me the House is going to be all badass and everything, but only SCARE these 4 little termites?? Demons KILL, they don't f!@# around yelling Boo! Whatever, rubes enjoyed the Mummy, they'll eat this shit right up.

  • July 21, 1999, 10:35 a.m. CST

    To the Ghostbusters guy, from Warrior.

    by Warrior

    Maybe someone would be able to do that, but not Bill Murray and those other idiots. They would start cracking jokes and acting foolish, and the house would eat them alive. Now, if it were ME and MY buddies, well then, that house would have to kiss its motherfucking ass goodbye! Oh, and Harry, Star Wars: TPM was awesome, you oversized dingleberry.

  • July 21, 1999, 11:21 a.m. CST

    Harry's Reviews

    by capnrico

    Is anyone else getting tired of Harry's reviews being "This is how >I< would have done it", "THIS is how to make your movie better"? Dude, just shut up and review the movie, it's called a REVIEW not a HOW-TO-FIX-THIS-MOVIE

  • July 21, 1999, 11:26 a.m. CST

    The Haunting was Horrible

    by TwoFace

    I got to see a sneak preview of this movie. I thought it looked incredible from the trailer. I am SO glad I didn't pay for this one. The first half of the movie showed a lot of promise. From the foreboding house to the character development, I thought I was in for a treat like Poltergeist! All of a sudden the script changed! Whoever came up with some of the lines spoken should not be allowed to write another script. People were actually groaning in the theater. Then when Lili Taylor finds out why the house is haunted, it gets to be even more ridiculous. The evil character looked like an ancestor of Captain Kangaroo. And why does Lili have to say out loud what's obvious to everyone watching the film?!? One person at this movie summed it up by saying, "It wasn't the worst movie I ever saw... but it was in the top 20." One person clapped... one person booed... and the rest were extremely disappointed. When will the movie studios learn that you need more than cool special effects to make a movie?

  • July 21, 1999, 3:24 p.m. CST

    I joined Talkback to warn people about this movie

    by LAFilmBuff

    I don't know if I've ever been so disappointed in a movie. Of course, with Jan De Bont, you don't expect or even hope for "Art" but you do hope for some visual thrills and a couple of funny one-liners. This movie doesn't even offer that! First off, let's just say that Lili Taylor is definitely the lead and Liam Neeson and Catherine Zeta-Jones have about 40 lines between them. Liam screams all of his lines. You can almost see the spit shooting out. Catherine employs a smarter strategy - she looks bored and distracted. I think she may be the only one who actually read the script. The most damning thing I can say about her is that she looked pretty puffy and bloated. Too much drinking? What other response can you have to this movie? I longed for a martini after about 20 minutes. Lili reprises her Household Saints shtick where she gets to look teary eyed and beatific. That's her whole performance. Don't even ask about the nonsense she has to say. (It's not her fault). I stopped caring fairly early on and the plot was both extremely easy to figure out, and never explained. Did he murder the kids after having sex or just for fun? How did the wife get away, etc.? Oh who cares. The special effects look unbelievably fake and the Catholic theology mumbo-jumbo would be offensive if anyone cared. Unfortunately, everyone involved in the movie will probably keep their careers, but let's hope Dreamworks wises up and never hires these Bozos again. Did a movie ever cry out louder for test screenings?

  • July 21, 1999, 3:33 p.m. CST

    But is it scary?

    by Hickory

    Harry, I saw this movie on Monday evening and what struck me most, and what I'm surprised you barely mention, is that for a haunted house movie this movie is JUST NOT SCARY! It is noisy, the house is great, Zeta-Jones is a doll, but the only jolt I got was when Taylor prodded the ashes in the fireplace. As for the effects, whenever we saw a spirit manifesting itself through material (pillow, drapes, sheets), it always took on the texture of plastic, not fabric. Typical bad CGI effects. Placing it above Phantom Menace and The Mummy is faint praise indeed. Let's face it, this has been a pretty poor summer for movies.

  • July 21, 1999, 4:11 p.m. CST


    by darren

    Just happened to catch the mummy at my local dollar theater and you know what-IT WAS DAM ENJOYABLE!! Yes, it was silly in parts(overstuffed with humour) but a whole lotta' fun! Haven't seen "Haunting" yet, but it looks cool.

  • July 21, 1999, 4:14 p.m. CST

    just as I feared

    by Grocer

    I wuz looking forward to this movie, but it seems my deepest, darkest, DeBont fears have manifested themselves once again. The guy shoots pretty pictures, but it's becoming more and more evident he's not much of a storyteller. Robert Wise, now there's a friggin' storyteller! I'll see it anyways, but the prognosis isn't good. Problem with a lot of today's "hot" hollywood filmmakers is simply... they aren't really good filmmakers.

  • July 21, 1999, 4:14 p.m. CST

    just as I feared

    by Grocer

    I wuz looking forward to this movie, but it seems my deepest, darkest, DeBont fears have manifested themselves once again. The guy shoots pretty pictures, but it's becoming more and more evident he's not much of a storyteller. Robert Wise, now there's a friggin' storyteller! I'll see it anyways, but the prognosis isn't good. Problem with a lot of today's "hot" hollywood filmmakers is simply... they aren't really good filmmakers.

  • July 21, 1999, 4:56 p.m. CST

    maul & ghostbusters

    by half vader

    Darth Maul, grow a brain and go look up a decent dictionary before you start spitting bile at everyone. 'Fear attracts the fearless' does NOT technically qualify as a pun (actually, 'Half Vader' DOES, but only if you have an English or Aussie accent). I don't know what YOUR dictionary says, but it must be different to everyone else's. Secondly, although I usually make sure I read EVERYONE'S posts completely before I comment, I'm avoiding it this time because I don't want to know the ending you're all talking about - so forgive me if someone's already mentioned that the supposedly kickass ghostbusters weren't very effective against the ghosts in CASPER.

  • July 21, 1999, 6:47 p.m. CST

    The Haunting

    by Teethclenched

    Long time reader, first time poster here, eh? Well, Harry, you've made me actually almost want to see the movie. I'm a HUGE fan of the original--a movie that for me falls into my own little category of MOVIES THAT THERE IS NO REASON ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH TO REMAKE!! EVER!!! Robert Wise's version is near perfect. Why remake it? ( Besides the obvious $$$$$ ) To make it "accessible" to "today's audience"?? Let today's audience perform hideous obscenities upon itself. If you can't appreciate the subtle scares of the original, have your mum clean the doody out of your knickers, have her fix you a bowl of farina and ask her to explain it to you!! There's no artistic reason for this remake. Wise's version is on Turner Classic movies this Saturday ( 7-24 ) and it's LETTERBOXED. Let's all watch it, shall we? Oh yeah, and if you haven't, READ THE BOOK, TOO!!

  • July 21, 1999, 7:10 p.m. CST

    since therearre SW fans here...

    by morpheus

    can anyone tell me wwhy Obi Wan came back after dying but not Qui Gonn?!Please!

  • July 21, 1999, 9:17 p.m. CST

    Lili Taylor

    by amberjazz

    Haven't seen The Haunting, wasn't really planning to. I did hear that Lili Taylor will be playing Janis Joplin in the biopic. Anybody have any info?

  • July 21, 1999, 11:17 p.m. CST

    Harry's reviews

    by not_a_jedi_yet

    I hope, Harry, that you're listening to what people are saying about your reviews. Ever since Godzilla, dude...need I say more? Here's the bottom line: never again will I look to this site for guidance on what I see or don't see. Too many self-important geeks around here for my taste. Get a grip on this simple fact: THIS IS NOT, NEVER HAS BEEN, AND NEVER WILL BE A SERIOUS FILM SITE. I don't come here for discussion about "films," I'm here to talk about FLICKS AND MOVIES! And "Haunting" sounds like a helluva FLICK. Gimme popcorn! Gimme a bucket of coke! Entertain me! And tell that film school dropout in front of me with the notepad to GO THE F**K home!

  • July 22, 1999, 1:23 p.m. CST


    by E

    Though Harry has pegged the last ten minutes of the film correctly, being pure wretch, he has greatly over-rated the rest of the film. All of the characters, except Taylor, are pointless. Neeson is little more than fodder to feed the plot. You barely notice his presence in the film. The plot is a mess. Why everyone is taken to Hill House for the experiment isn't very clear. Insomnia study? Fear study? It's all pointlss exposition anyway. And putting the film on Taylor's shoulders? What a bad idea. Her frantic overacting didn't provoke sympathy from me. I just wanted to smack her. After Twister, Speed 2 and this I declare Jan DeBont KING OF ALL HACK DIRECTORS!

  • July 22, 1999, 1:53 p.m. CST

    What's Wrong with 'Twister'???

    by RodimusPrime

    I mean its no Citizen Kane, but it's no 'Speed 2' either! It's a kickass movie when you've got the surround sound on and the volume up to about 8 out of 10 and its boomin' up there on the big screen Sony.....especially the first 5 minutes. WOW!

  • July 22, 1999, 1:59 p.m. CST

    Fuck "The Haunting" I'm waitin' for "The Blair Witch Project"!

    by spoutykrout

    Is it just me or does this sound like another $100 million dollar costing DUD like Wild Wild West. Screw all this summer movie franchise SHIT!! I think i'll just wait until the "Blair Witch" comes out, until then I'm waiting until I go to the theatre again.

  • July 22, 1999, 5:26 p.m. CST

    to rolande - the "shitfest" guy

    by lilred

    you are so lame. just because someone happens to give a positive review of a movie & you don't agree, you have to rip on the reviewer & the movie even more. Pretty immature, I must say. And I have noticed you do it a lot. Look, we are all entitled to our OWN opinions & the people who do these reviews work pretty hard at it. So grow up, fool. If you don't like everything so much, start your own damn website. P.S. I am one of those who liked this film so HA! And P.S.S. Zeta-Jones CANNOT ACT!!! LIVE WITH IT!

  • July 22, 1999, 8:49 p.m. CST

    Hey Obi-Wan, I agree.

    by RodimusPrime

    I agree with just about everything you said, Obi-Wan. Maybe someone has taken over AICN and replaced Harry with some sort of evil clone? Wait, make that a STUPID clone. Stupid and inconsistent. By the way, I think everyone who thinks The Phantom Menace was great should end their postings with this: TPM Rocks!

  • July 23, 1999, 5:10 a.m. CST

    What's Wrong With Movies Today?

    by Goodgulf

    I'm no critic. I'm just a regular guy. I enjoy a good film just like any one else. Of course what I consider good (or bad) may be just the opposite of what you may think. But that's what makes this an interesting world. But over the last ten years (a bit further back if you include the remake of King Kong), there has been a dumbing down of films, especially the big blockbusters for summer and Christmas. Most of these films are made to just "entertain", and there's nothing wrong with that. Who the hell wants to "think"? I used to say that a lot. But then I started thinking about the Lord of the Rings. And how I wanted it to be faithful to the book. I wanted the grandeur and beauty of Tolkien's writing to come through on the big screen. And I didn't want it to be dumbed down. And I felt the same way about the Haunting. I loved the original. I want MORE than screen candy. I want a GOOD story. I want GOOD acting, I want GOOD direction. I want it all. Is that too much to ask, that twice a year Hollywood make a movie that is actually intelligent and doesn't treat the audience as though they were incapable of thinking for themselves? I've gotten to he age where movies like Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, that I used to hate, seem MUCH more interesting than much of the stuff being put out today - Eyes Wide Shut included. All my life I've been an action/adventure/horror/scifi fan. No mundane stuff for me. But I've also always been a picky fan of those kinds of films. Only a few are worth watching. From 1920 to the present there are only a few classics that have stood the test of time. There are more of course that I enjoy that aren't exactly classics, like just about anything the Boris Karloff did, just because I love his acting and that wonderful voice. But I grew up in the 1950's and it was so hard to find a good science fiction film worth watching. That's why Forbidden Planet (for one) is so highly praised by me and others in that generation. It was an oasis in a virtual desert. Are there flaws in that film. Sure. But it was SO MUCH better than 90% of anything else that it was the be all and end all of science fiction films for me and my friends. And now even with all the new SFX available, Hollywood seems hard pressed to make even a mediocre film that combines the best acting and direction with the best SFX to make a really enjoyable movie. They rely on multi-million dollar ad campaigns to sucker folks into the theatre to see poorly executed, over-inflated dribble. When will we, the audience, get wise to this and demand better? Good films shouldn't be accidents. They should be the norm. Bad films should be accidents. Screw the MPAA debate. The more important problem is that most films today are junk made to sell popcorn. It's not the rating system that is a real problem. That can be fixed. But even if it is, will the films be worth watching?

  • July 23, 1999, 1:35 p.m. CST

    You would have to be a flaming asshole to...

    by Bill Mulder

    You would have to be a flaming asshole to think that this movie was anything but a piece of junk. You know what this "horror" movie was missing? Any suspense at all!! There is one scare in the entire movie. No suspense just one cheap scare in two hours. I wish I paid my money to see Eyes Wide Shut again. Fuck you Jan DeBont! And this is his second best movie behind Speed. Speed 2 and Twister are even worse this piece of shit! God, horror movies can't be made right anymore!

  • July 23, 1999, 2:24 p.m. CST

    Hegelian dialectic

    by fonebone

    I'm glad to see that Harry has revised down his opinion of TPM, although I wish he would come out with a reassessment -- a version 2.0, as it were. (Note to the big guy -- I wish you would have made clear that your BWP 2.0 had spoilers.) It's easy to criticize Harry for changing his opinions over time, but after all, what is the purpose of sites like this? Not only does it inform viewers about the quality of films they have yet to see, it also allows them to discuss the merits of films they have seen. People should be open to reconsidering their initial opinion based on further consideration as well as the insights of others. For example, I want to see "Indy III" again based on the praise that movie has received on this site. (Although I'm glad Harry acknowledged its horrible ending.) I have nothing against people voicing strong opinions, but I think it's good to be open and acknowledge that someone may like a movie that you think is awful.

  • July 23, 1999, 3:09 p.m. CST


    by FIDELIO

    I wrote a really long review of this miserable film, but my I incorrectly wrote my password and it all got erased. Basically, I expressed my opinion of the film and analyzed all of its flaws. And there were so many, that I can't type them all again. My hand hurts. I just want to say: I respect Harry. I like TPM a lot also, I loved Eyes, and I didn't think WWWest was that bad. However, I can't understand this review, Harry. What are you saying? This film was the pits, one of the worst summer films ever made, and I can't even see how any human being could think otherwise! I know it's my opinion, but my theater was constantly laughing at the awful script, cringing at Taylor's weird and embarassing performance, and many of the audience members walked out in the middle. This film was so lame that I wanted to throw something when I walked out. Wish my full review wasn't erased. Hope no one sees this movie. Go see Eyes Wide Shut instead. If you have seen it, see it again. Even if you didn't like Eyes, see it again because I'm sure your second viewing of that film will be more entertaining than your first of this. Plus, you'll be buying tickets to a kubrick film again and not Jan Debont's "Masterpiece" of creepy horror and thrills. If this is a masterpiece, than friggin' Wild Wild West is God.

  • July 23, 1999, 8:55 p.m. CST

    The Haunting (1999)

    by JohnMGM

    Harry, did we see the same print of The Haunting? Not only is Dreamwork's The Haunting the worst film of 1999 (thus far), it is one of the worst big-budget studio films on the '90s. A good cast is set adrift in an terrible script based (in name only) on Shirley Jackson's novel, "The Haunting of Hill House." The only good aspects of the film are it wonderful sets (which always look like sets) and creative sound design. Robert Wise's 1963 film version of "The Haunting of Hill House" aside; this film is horrible and should be avoided by all who enjoy fright films.

  • July 23, 1999, 8:55 p.m. CST

    Deep Blue Shit

    by Manaqua

    I just got back from seeing The Haunting and it was OK. I agree with the ending bit. I felt a little cheesed out by that time but.....They showed the trailer to Deep Blue Sea and what a piece of shit. The opening effects shot composite of the complex in the middle of the ocean was slipping so made it looked like my grandma match moved it by hand. Fucking laughable.

  • July 23, 1999, 11:02 p.m. CST

    Yech, what a stinker.

    by TalkingKat

    I have to agree with harry, in that after seeing this movie you feel compelled to mentally "fix it". The cast is great, the sets are beautiful, and the SFX are good enough that you feel as though it SHOULD be good. But it falls short in every other respect. Waayyy short.

  • July 23, 1999, 11:38 p.m. CST

    Don't watch this junk....

    by Lostjedi

    OMG, The audience laughed at the screen after this POS this afternoon. THE HOUSE WAS PACKED! I couldn't believe it! I felt cheated... Like most, I agree about the house, set and thespians.... HOWEVER, the whole plot, script and dialogue SUCKED! I can be mature about this whole thing but lord... what a ripoff... someone hose down DeBont....

  • July 23, 1999, 11:40 p.m. CST

    I loved it!

    by Imagikafan

    The story is good, all the actors deliver good performances, the special effects are excellent, and Eugenio Zanetti's sets are amazing! I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I liked it more than The Boring Witch Project and Eyes Wide Shut combined (although I did like Eyes Wide Shut). As for the complaint's about a "happy" ending, what the hell movie were those people watching? Definitely not the same movie I watched. If your looking for a fun, interesting time, check this movie out. -Mark

  • July 24, 1999, 3:09 a.m. CST

    Harry, You forgot G. C.Scott's CHANGELING!!!

    by CapraCock

    Harry, you compared the new HAUNTING to several genre movies of the last few decades. But you forgot the BEST haunted house film of the lot: THE CHANGELING with George C. Scott. The seance scene alone has gotta be one of the creepiest few minutes ever placed on film. Other top notch ghost stories include THE UNINVITED with Ray Milland, and two episodes of Boris Karloff's Thriller TV anthology: THE HUNGRY GLASS and THE PURPLE ROOM. I may be in the minority, but I think Robert Wise' HAUNTING doesn't creep anywhere near as well as these aforementioned gems. Also, from what I have read, I have little hope that DeBont's film will have a high spooky quotient either, but I'll see it this weekend to find out for sure. Sincerely, CapraCock.

  • July 24, 1999, 10:55 a.m. CST

    The Haunting...blows!

    by gonk

    I'm actually angry. It's always fun to laugh with the crowd at a stupid movie, but I'm mad that such an opportunity was blown. The set design was the only good thing about this movie. The climactic lines were rediculous. You know how you feel embarrassment for other people when the do something stupid? That's how I felt. I guess it's up to me to write a REAL ghost story...anyone know of any good books?

  • July 24, 1999, 10:56 a.m. CST

    The Movie Was CRAP!

    by Clockwork Taxi

    This movies is almost as bad as WWW. It sucks, they should be ashamed of themselves.

  • July 24, 1999, 12:48 p.m. CST

    It sucks and it sucks bad.

    by Roann

    Harry, you must be the world's biggest optimist to find something good about this movie. Catherine Zeta-Jones Prada boots showed more personality. I can't believe that Liam Neeson didn't make enough money with his Phantom Menace merchandising cuts to do this piece of shit, and poor Lilly having to utter some of the worst dialogue in movie history. What a flaming piece of crap!!! I just hope to God that Jan De Bont's films quit making money and he never makes another movie. One of the worst movies of 1999.

  • July 24, 1999, 3:20 p.m. CST

    This Movie Sucked Ass

    by Asmodeus

    Oh, man, were you on crack? I saw this thing at midnight and right off the bat, let me assure you that even in the dark of night this movie will only be scary to the very easily frightened (and people scared of wooden babies.) The movie made no sense, was not funny, was not scary, was not interesting. I'll give it this - the movie had good sound; it was cool listening to the house breathe.

  • July 24, 1999, 4:16 p.m. CST

    The house is the movie...

    by BraveNewSquirrel

    I know it's late in the scheme of things, but... Really, the house is the only redeemable thing about this flick. The dialogue was horrid, the plot went the way of the stupids, the special effects became too cartoony. Remember in the beginning when the house just sat quietly, and you could've sworn the expressions on the different items were changing even though they weren't? Man... I got chills. There really didn't need to be anything going on. It could have been 2 hours of exploring the house, and I woulda loved the flick. But here's a question/note: Did you notice every locale in the house is shown at least twice? As the movie moves on, the house instead of growing bigger and more foreboding (like Crane built it), stays the same size and becomes more familiar. If you really want to scare people with a building, you can't ever let them feel comfortable... I'm trying to think of a good example of a movie that does this... but I'm struggling. Any ideaS?

  • July 24, 1999, 6:25 p.m. CST

    the Haunting is just a bad movie

    by bpug

    i went to this show expecting at least a pretty good flick and was really disappointed. once you get past the house/set design (and Zeta-Jones)it really bit. i cannot say it was the cast's fault--they all did pretty well with what they had. but the script was terrible (the plot wasn't bad--it just wasn't fleshed out well) and the ending was the worst i've seen in YEARS. The Haunting is just plain bad.

  • July 24, 1999, 8:28 p.m. CST

    The Worst Haunted House Movie Ever

    by Luke Cage

    Even worse than House II: The Second Story. This movie is an abomination. So much rampant stupidity. Those wooden cherub faces that register pop-eyed surprise at every advance of the house's evil with their mouths frozen into tiny 'O's? Goofiest thing anyplace, anywhere, EVER. However, at least their "acting" matched the quality of the rest of the cast. And was the portrait of Hugh Crain on loan from a Scooby-Doo episode or what? Every time someone walked by it I expected the eyes to be removed so someone behind it could look through the empty holes (this movie is so hokey I can't believe the skull in Crain's study didn't glow and cackle). And did anyone connected with this film know that Hill House is supposed to be the quintessential haunted house in film and literature? You can't cure it, you can't explain it. For the makers of this new Haunting to make the house's late owner the focus is ridiculous. Remember those classic lines quoted from Jackson's book in the original film? "Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against the hills, holding darkness within; it had stood for eighty years and might stand for eighty more...and whatever walked there walked alone." Obviously no one connected with this film did. And tell me - how dumb is it that ghostly hands can reach out towards people but only go Umm, does ectoplasm have a stretch limit? And the house called Eleanor at home to clue her into Dr. Marrow's ad? Wow! Hands down this is the worst movie of the year so far.

  • July 24, 1999, 10:09 p.m. CST

    Differing Opinions

    by crossman

    It's funny. My experience seeing this movie seems to mesh with many others. You see, I ACTUALLY LIKED The Haunting, while one person I was with hated it, and the other liked it as well. I think the key was that I went in with no real expectations. I just relaxed and let the movie take me where it wanted to. It was creepy, and it least it had SOME plot, unlike some haunting movies, but no it wasn't the greatest thing ever (nor was I expecting it to be.) I think the ending was all right, but was lacking -something-. You know, when you see a movie, didn't hate the ending per se, but felt it was a bit off. SPOILER FOLLOWS but since the ending was already given away in the review, does it matter? -- I liked the revelation that she was the granddaughter of Crain. It made an interesting bit. However, I wish they would have explained how she found THAT out. And why was Caroline's spirit in her? That didn't make sense. ###---### On a separate note, I've got to agree that Harry's reviews have gotten worse. I used to really look to what he thought when judging a movie, but now he just seems to follow popular opinion. His change in stance with Star Wars seems to exemplify that. And when reviewing, why throw in the "I would have done this" scenarios. I think Harry is DYING to make a cool movie of his own, and thus throws out such comments, but I have to wonder how good his movie would really be. I mean, after seeing The Faculty last weekend, which Harry praised as being SO COOL... I mean, what I was looking for at the beginning of The Faculty was a really cool opening sequence. Harry said THIS WILL BE THE COOLEST INTRODUCTION TO A FILM EVER! (talking about the kids going to school shot, not the immediate scream-ripoff opening), but hey, it was just another opening shot. Nothing great. Anyway, stick with the news, Harry. That's what you're great at. Quit being so biased all the time. (I am so sick of seeing Iron Giant so and so here). But thanks for the site.

  • July 24, 1999, 11:11 p.m. CST

    hey squirrel

    by Spacey

    The Shining did that nicely. I could never tell what room they were in.

  • July 25, 1999, 12:46 a.m. CST


    by woemcat

    After seeing this movie, the only logical response is "why?" Why was such a cool set designer wasted on a horrid script like this? Why do the special effects seem like they were cut and pasted straight from "7th Guest"? And WHY did CJZ have to be a bisexual? In the original, her sexuality was delt with in a more Freudian manner. I mean, it was almost 40 years ago, it was a bit shocking and added to her character, and really made a difference in her reactions to the "Eleanor" character. In the liberal 90's it just seem like an unnessary reference to the older film. It seems like a small point, I know, but... Hey, it did give me the oppurtunity to MST3K to myslef during the laughably bad dialouge. Is she an... evil bisexual?

  • July 25, 1999, 5:28 a.m. CST

    Catherine Babe-Jones

    by rodcat

    I really liked the film. Not great, but enjoyable. But, Catherine Zeta-Jones was GORGEOUS. It struck me as I was drooling that she would be great for the Charlie's Angels flick. She could be the Jaclyn Smith character.

  • July 25, 1999, 10:31 a.m. CST

    The MPAA presents: Mummy Haunting

    by Coswald

    Well, if you haven't seen The Haunting yet, but have seen The Mummy, don't waste your money. The Haunting has the same misguided sensibilities. It starts to go down the path toward being a good creepy, scary movie, then takes two steps back so as to not scare you too much. I guess that PG-13 rating they fought for came at the price of the movie's soul. Crane may have built Hill House, but Jack Valenti was undoubtedly the interior decorator.

  • July 25, 1999, 11:08 a.m. CST


    by Taliesin

    the best scene in the movie is where we see a picture of crane in the photo album. my friend laughed so hard he farted! that scene was supposed to be funny wasnt it?

  • July 25, 1999, 11:12 a.m. CST

    Stop trying to find something good about it, the movie sucked!

    by Cineman

    I saw the film last night and did not get scared once. The people in the audience were yelling at the screen how bad it was and I shed a little tear for Jan De Bont. I seem to remember reading him say that The Shining is his all time fave horror film and he wanted to recreate thge feeling of it. Well, Jan, you failed miserably. With The Shining, Kubrick, from the opening shot, created a sense of dread and doom that I have never seen in another film to date. What the hell was that opening shot you had. Some crap-ass swooping camera shot of the house with not scary music and no feeling of impending doom. In The Shining, the hotel was a truly eveil villan but in this the house was just a really beautiful house with millions of dollars worth of CGI that wasn't scary. Let's face it Jan. Kubrick didn't use CGI and his film was scary. CGI just hardly ever is scary. You really messed this one up and you can't use any excuses that you made with Speed 2. I mean, who could blame you for that one, nobody could make a good movie with Jason Patric and Sandra Bullock but this movie you had all this talent at your's so sad.

  • July 25, 1999, 11:41 a.m. CST

    The Haunting: Funniest Film of the Year!

    by Mark337

    I think everyone's missing the point of the film: It's about family. I was taken on an emotional rollercoaster. I wouldn't of known how to react to this harrowingly realistic film without the aid of wooden cherubs. If only "The Sweet Hereafter" had these I would of gotten more out of it. So remember, it's about family. And has anyone ever used such a powerful device as a haunted flip-book? If this doesn't get nominated for best picture, there is no god.

  • July 25, 1999, 12:02 p.m. CST

    Ranting about "The Haunting"

    by Rolo Tomasi

    I've never posted before, but I was so disappointed with this movie that I just have to vent. Now, normally I've agreed with Harry's reviews (he obviously loves movies and can relate to them on a level that most critics can't), but this time I totally disagreed with his praise of "The Haunting". The more often I see the emotionally empty, special-effects driven money-making machines that Hollywood is so crazy about lately, the more cautious I am about which movies to see. But I was really looking forward to "The Haunting" for many reasons: the actors (Liam Neeson, in particular), the story (I haven't seen any of the other Hill House movies, but my dad seems to like them and the plot intrigued me), and I was hoping for a movie that would scare me by being subtle, psychological, and spontaneous, like the kind 'ol Hitchcock made. So I didn't read any reviews, I didn't watch any previews or "Making of" specials. I wanted to get the full effect. And the full effect wasn't what I'd expected. 1.) The characters were paper-thin, and served only as typical movie stereotypes (wise-ass, babe, "mysterious" Ph.D., and two attendents that are conveniently taken out of the picture early on). The only character that was mildly interesting was Eleanor, but even that's being kind. Lili ready didn't have much to work with, there. 2.) The script was jammed full of stupid, '90s "hip" one-liners and pop culture references ("The Teletubbies scare me!"). It hurt to hear Lili Taylor, a good actress in her own right, say stuff like "Adventures are for women who love bullfighters" or "I can be a victim, or I can be a volunteer!", or (my favorite), "I'm BACK, Grandpa!" Liam, Lili, and Co. are a lot better than the material they were given. 3.) The story was an absolute mess. By the end of it, I didn't care about the little cherub children or their "hide and seek"-playing Grandpa. The ending felt tacked-on and comical (I totally agree with Harry on that issue), Marrow's character motivations were mostly unexplained, and the whole "Theo is bisexual and she's got the hots for Eleanor" storyline was left out to dry. And that ending...ugh!...was the writer trying to establish some kind of emotional resonance? ("It's about family! It's about the children!") It didn't work for me at all 4. By biggest problem with the movie was not the special effects (which I had expected to be overdone and flashy), but the fact that all of the scares (when there were any) were pretty predictable. You *knew* those spikes in the bedroom would come down on Eleanor, you *knew* the statues heads would turn and doors would slam and jiggle. The special effects while not overdone, were kind of silly. Luke's decapitation scene looked like something from "Gumby" (close-up on flue swinging, close-up on Luke screaming, distant shot of body standing upright without a head and no blood to be found). Corny. Like I said, I can't remember the last time I've felt so cheated by what I thought would be a cool movie. I'm 16; maybe I was supposed to be part of the target audience. If so, that's insulting. I try to give every movie a fair shake, and I know a good movie when I see one, but "The Haunting" didn't do anything for me. It (and movies like the "Psycho" remake) make me angry and afraid that studio heads can put together anything and make a few bucks. I should have waited for more word-of-mouth to circulate before I wasted two hours of my life. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. =0) --David

  • July 25, 1999, 12:36 p.m. CST


    by comixspaz

    Yea, I'm mad at this movie too. Because I honestly thought it was gonna be better than a wierd little mouse woman getting snaped in the eye with a piano string, or whatever, and going "ahh bada- bink!". I thoghut it would be better than a lead charecter who acts like she would rather be doing something else, and is afraid to scream to loudly. I thouhgt it would be better than Liam Neesan showing up every twenty minutes and being like "whats going on? Who the hell are you people? What movie?" I was hoping for an original, fun scary movie with subtle creepy effects. I got Phantasmagoria, with Catherin Zeta Jones[which sort of made up for all of it].

  • July 25, 1999, 2:45 p.m. CST

    Tell me two nubile buxom lasses were eating popcorn out of your

    by Julius Caesar

    Harry--I usually take your word on your reviews. Nine out of ten times you and I agree my friend. But The Haunting was an insult to any moviegoer who paid money to see it Harry. How can you say it was better than Star Wars? Please address this statement further to save your sterling reputation in my eyes. This movie was pure utter crap. The ride never started let alone took off. When the skeleteon jumped out of the fireplace, this should have turned into a roller coaster ride of a haunted house film and instead turned into psychobabble bull shit that didn't hold people's attention let alone frighten them. What happened to the chick with the harpsicord accident and the guy who left with her. They were supposed to come back the next day. They were supposed to call Dr. Neeson but never did. This movie insulted me. Plain and simple. So Harry, booby...come on, tell me you were flanked by two nubile buxom lasses who were eating popcorn out of your crotch when you saw this. The Haunting took an amazing set and production design and ruined it completely. The audience I saw it with in a theater in NYC last night roundly stood up and "Booed" when Jan's name graced the screen at the end. I'll admit it, I started it, but everyone joined in unison. What a piece of crap. Shame on you Dreamworks...shame on you...I expect a full recanting Harry. You owe it to yourself, mon ami.

  • July 25, 1999, 6:09 p.m. CST

    What the hell are you thinking?

    by Call

    I was just curious if we are watching the same movie. Because the HAUNTING I saw was the biggest waste of time since Godzilla (which De Bont was once attached to). I was so pissed that my girlfriend and I snuck back into the theater to see Tarzan for free. We felt UA theaters owed us. If Jan De Bont still has a carrer after The Haunting, Speed 2, and Twister then there truly is no common sense left in Hollywood. Of course I was a sucker to go see it in the first place. Call

  • July 25, 1999, 7 p.m. CST

    skip this clunker


    Boy, do I wish that I had read the talkback section before going to see this load of crap. It's a laughable film that could have been loads better. Not only was the dialogue bad and the story full of giant sinkholes, but the "great effects" barrage totally sucked. People laughed as Nell fought off the griffin statue, and groaned when the ghost of Krane appeared. Whoo - he's so scary and powerful, you are going to piss yourself as he makes garbage fly around the room. BOO! This thing had potential, but wound up a big dorkfest, especially with the crappy ending. One other thing- who did the makeup for the photographs of "Mr. Krane" in the photo album. Grampa Munster looked more convincing than this! Oh, well. If you haven't seen the movie, wait til video if you must see it at all. It ain't scary, and it sure wasn't even worth the $4.50 matinee price.

  • July 25, 1999, 7:50 p.m. CST

    Ask for the Wolfman!

    by Lord Malvolio

    Any of you Atlanta residents know what I'm talking about, but Crane was the spitting image of him! (he is a local celeberty that hocks his furniture on really bad commericals with his daughter) Anyhow, I gotta agree with everyone, what a let down. I was hoping for a really well done scary movie, but instead got a disney movie about a cool house! Go see Blair Witch, that one will still creep you out after you see it, not Haunting.... Going to rent the orignal now...

  • July 25, 1999, 8:36 p.m. CST

    The Haunting

    by Ferris Bueller

    I believe that Jan is a low class wanna-be. The only reason I don't have the desire to see him leave comepletely is because he made some worth seeing movies. So Jan better clean up his hack habits.

  • July 25, 1999, 9:24 p.m. CST


    by Smoothy

    Best Part of this movie = the Sound by Gary Rydstrom and his crew and Skywalker Sound.

  • July 26, 1999, 8:27 a.m. CST

    How do you like the taste of tripe?

    by john (Q) citizen

    It turns my stomach (and I think my liver) to know that there are human beings who can form sentences who actually liked this movie! How can you do that to yourself (by not having spine enough to stand up and cry "J'accuse!" or in this case "What shit!") and others (by possibly giving birth with your bad taste to the Haunting II - More Haunted!). There couldn't have been a worse way to cap off my weekend and loose 8 bucks to boot! But I'm more concerned about losing the 2 1/2 hours of my life than the $8. I never would have imagined that I wouldn't care if the person next to me placed a cell call in the middle of a movie. But last night it happened and I could not of cared less. I take that back - I cared less about what was on screen at the time. The ugly-tempered snakes in Soldier were scarier than anything in Hill House! And poor Harry says he enjoyed the script. He enjoyed the script!?!? There are soooo many pointless aspects to the script and it climaxes with one of silliest mess of words I've ever heard! For all the shitty reviews and word of mouth that got thrown on Wild Wild West it was an infinitely better movie than the Haunting! The Haunting is the true Wild Wild West of the summer of '99! Also, I didn't have the patience to read evryone's posting or even to read Harry's review for that matter. I just saw that people enjoyed it and began writing. So I apologize if this ground has already been covered.

  • July 26, 1999, 2:13 p.m. CST

    sticks and stones

    by Z

    I had fun watching this movie. the fact that it had a PLOT other then "we're lost" was nice. The fact that it had a monster and showed it was nice. Maybe they should have shot it on a low budget and called it a documentary: "four people stay at what legend says is a haunted house to undergo what they think is a study on insomnia. Two of them dissapear and are never found....this is their footage" I bet all you wankers would have loved it.

  • July 26, 1999, 2:31 p.m. CST

    One of the worst movies of the year

    by Caligari

    I love haunted house movies. Robert Wise's "The Haunting" is a great, psychological haunted house movie. But the Jan De Bont version is, far and away, one of the worst haunted house movies ever made. Those of you who saw "Twister" and "Speed 2" will not be disappointed. Once again, the movie is all show/special effects and the actors/characters are left out in the street. With the exception of Lili Taylor, the acting is awful (althtough Catherine Zeta Jones is wonderful to look at!). None of the characters have any growth or personal stake in the story. They simply scream, point, scream some more and run around. The plastic-looking CG effects are awful, taking away any of the mystery or horror that should of been created (give me classic horror effects, such as those recreated in Coppola's "Bram Stroker's Dracula"). Lilli Taylor gives it the ol' college try, but her character is flat as can be. She basically starts out strong... and ends up strong... no development. We never have any emotional stake in her as a character (which leaves the audience bored and detached). The ending is laughable. All it takes to destroy the ghost is for Lili to stand up to him and say she's not afraid of him. Whoop-ee-fucking--doo. There are no secrets to learn/reveal... there is never much of a mystery. A better film is "The Legend of Hell House" (contrary to Harry's belief). Each of the characters have a background and personal stake in the story. Also, the house has a creepier/sinister background, that creates a stronger sense of forboding/evil. Also, there was a secret to the house, which the characters had to solve in order to destroy the main evil ghost. Not so in Jan De Bont's film... just a bunch of actors looking lost, staring at all the awful CG effects. However, the house looked pretty cool. I hope they ship De Bont off to a desert island, so he won't screw up any more films.

  • July 26, 1999, 4:09 p.m. CST

    "The Haunting" is disappointing

    by pain

    Lame script, some memborable visuals, Owen was good, Zeta-Jones is overated, Liam was hardly in the damn thing (was I the only one who noticed this? I swear to God, he would show up on the screen every ten minutes or so and I'd scream "There he is!") Harry's reaction is confusing: Didn't he praise Phantom Menace? Lili Taylor just doesn't really belong in these 75 million dollar blockbusters; her independent roots are clearly shown. Overall grade: C

  • July 26, 1999, 5:23 p.m. CST

    Harry, you just insulted geeks everywhere

    by Tall_Boy

    I mean, "The Haunting" better than Star Wars. . .*shakes head in disgust*. . .good way to BACKPEADAL on your reviews like you ALWAYS fucking do!! Anyone remember his "Godzilla" review? Just because its *hip* to dis SW now, no reason for a self-repsecting geek to do it. I used to like your reviews now, but seriously, you're comming from left field lately. . .I mean, hell, what can we expect from somebody who liked "Tron".

  • July 26, 1999, 8:02 p.m. CST

    Harry isn't cool anymore

    by Scamps

    I used to think what Harry was doing with this site was useful and informative. I thought it was cool how a computer nerd got to co-host an episode of siskel & ebert. But it's not cool anymore, it's sad. Harry, you have no life. I mean, what the hell are you trying to accomplish? Do you think seeing all these movies is really making a difference to the market? I'm a 16 year-old aspiring filmaker (I shot a 78 min. 8mm film using local residents in my home town) that loves going to movies, and i try to see as many as I can, but if i ever become an over-weight burn-out who does nothing but WATCH movies and rates them as "a guy who has a passion for film" then that's the day I realize i've contributed nothing to society, and i've wasted my life. You say you have a passion for film, why not get out there and do something about it? Any fat slob can watch a movie and say "it rocked! i'll buy it as soon as it comes to DVD!" but why not make a contribution to cinema and do something worthwhile with your life. Losers like you make me sad and angry at the same time. Your review of The Haunting is atrocious, as is your ever-changing opinion of Episode 1 (tip: let a day pass before you write a review on a movie, and let your thoughts and opinions sit for a day or two) Instead of seeing the Haunting for the second time, or EWS (which, admittedly is a very good film) for the third time(I was content after one viewing, I save the rest for the comfort of my own home), why not improve the quality of your life a little bit? Exercise does the body good, and so does leaving the house, and not just to see a movie with your dad. Harry, you have no idea what sexual intercourse feels like, but i'm sure you can rant for hours how cool that screening of Godzilla was where the audience bounced around a giant beachball. I say these words as a person who shares your love for film, and who hates to see anyone's life so void of any meaning or purpose. Have a nice day

  • July 26, 1999, 9:46 p.m. CST

    De Bont must die!

    by Spocko

    Harry, you really droped the ball on this one. I cant see how any intelligent person(especially someone who saw and liked the 63 ' R. Wise version) could recommend this shitfest! The "script" was terrible---laughable at best. Lili Taylor--who I have loved in many other films---does a reading here that would make Shatner proud. I can only assume that she realized (too late) the extreme stupidity of this production and decided to just ham it up for all shes worth. The CGI overkill and new "upbeat!" ending made me we want to puke---the only thing that kept me from walking out of the theater was just wanting to see if it could possibly get any worse(it did). What a terrible waste of a talented cast and fantastic material to work from--NOT THE SCRIPT---But the novel by Shirely Jackson and the masterfull 1963 version of it by Robert Wise. Jan De Bont is to blame! This man is not fit to direct a toothpaste commercial---AVOID AT ALL COSTS!

  • July 26, 1999, 10:04 p.m. CST

    I *KNOW* this story backwards...

    by Matt the Hatter

    ...and forwards. I have read the story several times, and directed the theatrical version for our local community theatre several years ago. (I know, big whoop. Get to the point, drama dork.) Sure the movie dropped the ball in a couple of places. Okay. A couple of dozen places. BUT I STILL ENJOYED IT! It was great to see Hill House finally realized. The sound was intense. I thought it was VERY well cast... The characters (with the exception of Dr. Montegue... oops. Dr. Marrow, who I would have rather seen Robbie Coltrane play...) looked EXACTLY as I had always pictured them. Mrs. Dudley ESPECIALLY was dead (hee-hee) solid perfect, down to the New England accent. As far as the story goes, I'll agree it went on some tangents that I don't think were necessary. Hugh Crane should have stayed only as historical background, for one. And (******SPOILER ALERT******) I still can't believe they killed off Luke, especially in a glorified Dungeons and Dragons

  • July 27, 1999, 4:30 a.m. CST

    Siskel is rolling in his grave

    by Darth Taun Taun

    Harry, you are a complete total sell-out quote whore. "The Haunting is the feel-good movie of the summer, a smart, funny ride" -- Harry Knowles, AICN. What are you, the butt-pirate from 60 SECOND PREVIEW? Why is it that you parrot everything Roger Ebert says? Why can't you have an original thought in your skull? Everyone is dead-on about your "Godzilla" review. You totally backpedal on everything. You think any movie with CGI is the greatest film ever. Remember how you said as long as your site had crappy (ID4) backgrounds, we could know it was from a real person? Fuck you and your ass-riding "article not found" cgi links. Your reviews blow. And you blow. So blow me. TPM Rocks!

  • July 27, 1999, 4:56 a.m. CST

    How much were you paid?

    by Dr Vooch

    Harry can't be a complete rube.

  • July 27, 1999, 11:20 a.m. CST

    the sterilization of all creepiness = Where's the Elton john sou

    by samus22

    OK, this thing was a mess, but i have one or two real bones to pick: First, notice how it wasn't scary? That's just a symptom of the larger trouble: There was no real evil resident in Hill House. I have never seen a situation so ripe for Lovecraftian cavortings so expensively wasted in my life. i mean, we're talking about a demon who has killed hundreds of children, right? There should have been a sense of decay, corruption, rot -- EVIL -- in that place and in its minions. Instead we get this sterilized, Disney version of a spook house, where a ten ton stone giant decides NOT to drown you? With so few characters, the writer has to make it interesting without killing off everyone in sight, right? Well, bummer for him, because this thing was about as poor a script as Batman Forever or Godzilla. Also, I can't believe Nick Nightingale and the Bloody Eye Girl just got dropped like that. Symbolic of the whole flimsy flick. I actually felt bad and embarassed for Lily Taylor. "It's always been about family." Well great, now we all know what this two hour De Bont masturbation was for.

  • July 27, 1999, 11:24 a.m. CST

    are you crazy harry?

    by Cecilvyse

    Harry, you've got it all wrong this time. Haunting is easily one of the worst films of the year, down there with Wild Wild West.

  • July 27, 1999, 12:46 p.m. CST

    didn't like it (spoiler)

    by Curt

    The script SUCKED. I mean, this is just another one of those lame neo-thrillers intended to give you cheap thrills. It was SO predictable, because everything was foreshadowed so bad you could figure out the ending by the first 20 minutes. They look at the big door in the beginning, "All ye who stand before these doors shall be judged" Eleanor says "I wonder what that means?" WELL JEEZUS H CHRIST, WHAT DO YOU THINK IT MEANS? I guess the only thing that saved it was the brilliant special effects and the incredible house. Man, that stuff was awesome, if the script and acting had been on par with that, then I would have said this movie is one of the best ever. But it's not. I agree, the ending did suck... a lot. I think that it should have ended with all four of them crouched in the corner of the living room, the huge ghost of crane looking down on them, then showing the outside of the house as Crane begins to laugh... ending finally with the pitiful screams of the inhabitants that know they will never leave.

  • July 27, 1999, 6:58 p.m. CST

    I laugh at all you people!

    by Fernoth

    I bet most of you don't even know wtf Shirley Jackson's point was.. The whole haunted house was a cover to critize society!! I find it funny how people critize movies, yes I know I have seen bad ones, but I give them credit, because they had guts to make a movie! I find it hard to take reviews into account, because all it is is someones opinion and they think they know everything there is to film making. Well, until you make a fucking masterpiece I don't want to here " Oh this movie was the worst ever." Only until you Can make the best movie ever can you critize someones work.. That is like saying The Beatles were the worst music group.. Maybe to you but most people did like them

  • July 27, 1999, 8:02 p.m. CST

    Re: Fernoth

    by Luke Cage

    Most people would agree that the Beatles were one of the best bands ever in the history of music. The fact that someone might criticize them won't change their ultimate place in the pantheon of popular music. On the other side of the coin, Jan De Bont's Haunting will likley always be an object of derision for most people who care about movies. It's an inane piece of tripe. And as for Jackson's novel being an allegorical criticism of society, I'll refer you to Nelson Gidding who wrote the screenplay adaptation for the original Robert Wise film. Gidding met with Jackson, told her his interpretation of the novel as being really about a mental patient who's been institutionalized and that all the events of the book can be explained as manifestations of her psychosis, only to be decisively told by Jackson that her book was "a ghost story." I knew this new film was in trouble when I heard De Bont talking about being able to do all the things Jackson described in her book that the original film had to skip due to the technical limitations of the era. Well, if De Bont had actually read The Haunting of Hill House he'd have known there's nothing in Jackson's book that would account for his film's bells and whistles approach.

  • July 27, 1999, 10:06 p.m. CST

    Why I hated this movie...

    by G

    1)Lili Taylor can not act to save her life - she is horrible! I can't believe they would put the movie on her shoulders. Anyone who thinks otherwise should get a clue. 2)The special effects weren't that great and really overshadowed any attempt at developing a coherent story and good acting (which there was none, save Neeson). Another example of style vs. content. 3)Luke Wilson is a crappy actor who acts through that misshapen nose of his. What is up with this guy? His only good part in the movie was when he forgets to duck. 4)What was the motivation of the master of the house. Why did he kill children? Never explained. I think the background of the house and the inhabitants needed more explanation and backdrop. 5)Stupid ending. Could it have been any more happy-crappy and silly? I liken this movie to the book "Hannibal": pretty good story for about 3/4's and then the story just falls apart with a half-assed ending that seemed like an afterthought by the writer. There are probably more reasons to hate this movie, but those are the big ones. I'd like to see the original and read the book to compare and contrast. Hopefully the original movie doesn't rely on special effects to make the movie. BTW, I think this movie had a bit of a "7th Guest" kind of feel to the story, although in the 7th Guest, the antagonist's history and motivations are made clear; making the story more creepy.

  • July 27, 1999, 11 p.m. CST

    This movie should be called The Humping for 2 reasons...

    by The Godfather

    1) Because I got fucked out of six bucks. 2) All I could think about while I watched that crap was Michael Douglas' old ass banging Cathy Z while the soundtrack to Basic Instinct plays in the background. Excuse me. I have to go regurgitate that shit I was fed for two hours. OUT.

  • July 28, 1999, 1:36 a.m. CST


    by Mishima

    I loved Shirley Jackson's book. Most of the horror is psychological, going on inside the lead characters insecure head. The book isn't "Poltergeist", it isn't literary special effects. I was concerned that they'd turn the book into an effect-fest. Harry's review has assured me that it aint so. Great! The posters here seem to hate the movie, however. Is it because they need their Hollywood adrenaline fix? Or is it really a baddly made movie? I guess I'll have to go see it myself to decide.

  • July 28, 1999, 11:56 a.m. CST

    Did ya notice the large goof? *to put it lightly*

    by mymomsaysimcool

    Okay I agree with all the criticisms of the movie that have been previously discussed in all the above talkbalk messages. So here I'm going to just ask about one I haven't heard mentioned. Okay the one thing I didn't understand was the two caretakers that lived in know the ones that leave before everyone...they won't stay in the the dark...or whatever the hell lame way that old woman explained it. So when that assistant girl got whipped with the piano string thingy...(which I might also add caused a tremendous laugh from the audience...shouldn't we have felt sympathy? anyway...) so after she got whipped with was nighttime, and Liam Neeson opened the gate and let them out and then locked it after they left...I thought only the two caretakers had the key to let them out...that's what Liam said earlier on......I'm was Liam able to let them out and then? Especially since it was at the dark. No caretakers around in that scene...hmmm....Okay maybe I missed something, maybe Liam had a key made up so he could get in and out if he had to? Oh but wait...then WHY THE HELL DIDN'T HE USE IT TO LET THEM OUT WHEN THE HOUSE WAS ATTACKING THEM!?!?!?!? So that's why I'm guessing he didn't really have a key and that that one scene where he let the piano string whipped girl out must've been a mistake. Or else I'm just an idiot and missed something? Probably I missed something when I was laughing at the girl getting whipped. I really hope I missed something otherwise that was such a blatant mistake, not a small insignificant goof...but downright stupidity not to be caught in the script, in editing, in test screenings, etc. etc. etc. Oh and one more complaint....remember when Eleanor was in the bed and the 3 people came in to save her? And the house was reaching for them....*like someone else mentioned it only reached so far* But I found it a little odd that NO ONE WAS FRIGHTENED!? I mean this is like one of their first real contacts with the ghost...before they thought that Eleanor was cracking up. Here they come face to face with the ghost...reaching for them...and they're like, "Ehh whatever..let's just get Eleanor out of bed, don't pay any attention or register ANY fright to the four or five enormous hands reaching from the ceiling!!!!! And what the hell!?!?? He's my great grandfather. I know because I looked at a creepy picture in a photo album...oh yes, I know that I've seen that same picture of the man 20 feet tall in the main hallway, but it didn't register that he was my great grandfather until I saw the small picture in the book...because a face like that is so very generic, so it took me awhile to finally realize that it was indeed my greatgrandfather....I've said it before and I'll say it again WHAT THE HELL!!?!?? Ahem. Sorry for this ranting and raving...and if I've incorrectly bashed something, please let me know. Talkback to ya later.

  • July 28, 1999, 12:36 p.m. CST

    Harry Review Mad Libs

    by Lyon

    Review: The (adjective) (noun) part (number) Wow I just have to say I spent all (measure of time) staring at my (electric device) wondering what I was going to say about this movie. But before I wrote anything my (a relative) called from the (a public building) where they were screening another new movie called The (adjective) (nonsense word) (verb)(an animal), a foreign type film which is supposedly very (adjective). But back to the movie I'm reviewing. I have to say, I expected this movie to be (adjective)--but you know what?? It was (adjective) and way more (adjective) than any movie I have ever seen. It was about a team of (noun) scientists who discover that (verb ending in -ing) with Mother nature will only end in a (a significant event). I urge everyone to see this movie, if only to experience what will surely become a classic line of dialogue: "(The strangest thing you've overheard this week)!"

  • July 28, 1999, 1:09 p.m. CST

    "As God is my witness (whaa?) I will not let you hurt the childr

    by Mean Ween

    Why is it that hollywood has to lean on CGI for every goddamned big budget movie it shits out?? I don't know how many shitty movies are the sole result of this new technology. Hugh Crane wasn't frightening. He was comical. He looked computer-generated. And those child ghosts? Gimme a fucking break. They looked like plastic dolls. Everyone attached to this stupid pos should be ashamed of themselves. Especially Neeson. He's gotta fire his agent. Oh, and TPM is another perfect example of a director leaning on CGI to fill in all the gaping holes of a mediocre story. -- meaner

  • I thought this movie was pretty damn weak too, I don't recommend it. However, I do think that I saw Neeson give his gate key to the character played by Todd Fielding when he drove the 'Mary' character into town to the doctor. As I remember, he was supposed to come back with the key after getting Mary checked out, but didn't. Hence, no key. There were plenty of other problems, though - did anyone else notice the "stone" pillar that Neeson and Zeta-Jones were cowering against at the end of the film SQUISHED when Neeson put his weight on it to stand up?? Oops. Totally took me out of the film, but since it was basically over, that was all right. House was cool otherwise, but that foam pillar had me wondering what else in there was squishy.

  • July 28, 1999, 7:59 p.m. CST


    by -Donner

    The Haunting was horrible. Bottom line. Not scary, just campy CGI instead of fright. Harry, get with it!

  • July 28, 1999, 8:51 p.m. CST

    Pretty Awful

    by CMichael

    I was looking forward to this movie for a long time. It looked like a fun summer movie, and I love scary movies, even though no one seems to know how to make one anymore. This film does not have one single scare in it. There was no plot, not even a sketch of one. You'd think there'd be some perfunctory sleep analysis scenes, something more than the dinner scene, when Lili Taylor (a good actress who deserves better) tells us she can't sleep because she has no life (and a recently deceased overbearing invalid mother), while the others have too much excitement in their's. A 'test' consisting of mazes, and then we're done with the sleep problems. And what about having Liam Neeson creating tension by manipulating scares, only to find out the house is truly haunted? Nope, I guess his whole plan was to tell scary stories, and use the old 'keep it a secret' trick. Pretty funny how Owen Wilson says oh sure, I won't tell, and then immediately tells. That old standby is almost as hilarious as when someone says "oh no, we're not doing X. Believe me, X is out of the question." Quick cut to that character doing X. Ha ha. That popped up in Mr DeBont's classic Twister, with a pre-Oscar Helen Hunt telling her ragged band of misfits that there is no way she'll take them to her aunt's house, before doing just that. Still makes me laugh. Anyway, everyone just conveniently forgets the "creepy" things that happen until it's too late. And at one point Wilson thinks he knows Neeson has brought them there under false pretenses, but when his suspicion is confirmed, he reacts like it never crossed his mind. And shouldn't someone have wondered why those two assistants never returned? Or did I doze off during a toss-away line that explained it? And those Greek chorus cherubs, with their O shaped mouths were hysterical. This didn't have to be genius, we have enough of that supposedly going on this summer with Mr Kubrik's snoozefest, but it should have at least been midly entertaining. An incredible waste of money (their's and mine).

  • July 28, 1999, 11:15 p.m. CST

    Sorry Harry

    by the devil

    I like your site, i really do. But your last few reveiws have been really confusing, meandering creatures. why is that? Stick to your own feelings. I disliked both your endings, but i hated the real one. The ending was the wrong place to start...this movie COULD have been so much more. I liked it alot, mostly because i went with one of them little vixens that jump at EVERTHING on screen. So that adds to it. Harry...i don't know man, what's up lately?

  • July 29, 1999, 1:05 a.m. CST

    Better Review (or should I say, more accurate?)

    by Omega Man C

    Did you like De Bont's previous outings, Speed and Twister? If so, you are a moron, and should go see this movie. IT SUCKED ASS. It was worse than Police Academy 5. Yep, that bad. Hmmmm.... could our foreshadowing be any more heavy handed? The only thing that was good about this movie (besides the fact that it was shorter than Saving Private Ryan) was that one of the songs in it made me think of that song from Willy Wonka, you know the "... in a world of pure imagination... " one. You'd think Catherine Zeta-Jones playing a bisexual would be arousing, but she never got the chance to prove it. Oooh, and I really liked how when Owen Wilson's head was neatly severed by an object having no sharp edges, and the fact that his body was not affected by the incredible momentum of a giant metal lion's head plowing into his cranium (foreshadowed, I might add). I feel I must repeat myself: THIS MOVIE SUCKED ASS. If you want to see a shitty movie, go rent You've Got Mail. It sucked too.

  • July 29, 1999, 12:43 p.m. CST

    True..why wern't the actors scared

    by Sargon

    I do mostly agree with Harry's review, the first 3/4 were pretty great..sure weak plot bits, and some sub-par acting..but humerous and interesting and nice eye candy..worth the money, but the end was kinda weak, really sorta fell down..but just for me I wife thought it was ok..I think it was a more "feminine" ending not to be un-PC or anything..but the whole self scarifice for the children thing was kinda motherly. What really bugged me (I overlooked the small stuff and tried to enjoy the ride) was that these folks all just totally accepted that these freaky ghost things existed. I mean they at first told Nell she was crazy, but as soon as they saw the ghost stuff they weren't freaked out at all, no one talked about it, like "WTF what is going on, how is this possible, lets get the hell out of here, that, that whole freaking room just like melted! Oh my God" They acted more like there was just a bad storm going on or something. Kinda messed it up for me. The other thing was the sound. The house noises were so constant and loud, it was hard to tell what noises were just for us, and what noises the Characters heard. Not as big a deal, but a bit annoying. Sarogn out. TPM was ok..I think better than HH, but not a fantastic movie by any means, big eye candy that rode on the goodwill of the originals.

  • July 29, 1999, 1 p.m. CST

    Jan's Crap 'o' Rama

    by Lord_Schpappy

    I only saw this movie because we couldn't get into Blair Witch and we were all psyched to see a horror film. What I didn't expect was that it was more humor than horror. Too bad it wasn't trying to be funny. The script and the FX were laughable! Examples: 1) Just what was the purpose of Liam's assistant and that guy Todd? They were in the movie a total of 5 minutes! 2) What was the purpose of the fight between Eleanor and her sister? 3)Why show the gas tank leaking when Luke rams the gate? Everyone panics when they can't get him out of the car because the gas tank is leaking. Why? Was it going to explode? Was Luke smoking and I didn't see it? 4)Did you see the children ghosts? It looked like they ran out of money for the film and had to go with the Grade C ghost instead of Grade A. I mean, make the ghost look like a person! Not some cross between a human and Casper! The Mirror room symbolized the whole movie for me. A cheap amusement park ride that disappoints at every turn. 1 out of 5.

  • July 30, 1999, 1:58 a.m. CST

    It wasn't THAT bad...

    by alina555

    Then again, maybe the reason I'm not that disappointed is because I am still coping with the gigantic disappointment set in from me watching The Blair Witch Project a couple of weeks ago. Now THAT was a movie I had extremely high hopes for that failed miserably. But back to this movie....from the trailers, I knew this was a big-budget PG-13 movie, which meant little scare factor. I just wanted to add on to the list of "implausibles" that people are bringing up in this movie (because movies like this are for us to look and go, "Yeah, like they'd really do this!"). Okay, wasn't it odd how these three strangers in this humongous mansion were obviously super independent enough to never want to hang around each other for more than two minutes? Like when Owen tells Lily that "I'll give you your privacy," and closes the huge door. Shoot, that house was huge enough to the point where every room was two miles long, and even if you left every single door and window open, you'd still have your privacy. Or when CZJ and Lily hear that noise that first night, get freaked out, and then go back to their own separate rooms. Going off on that....after Lily has her breakdown in her room, CZJ leads her back to her room, back into the same bed where she freaked out, and turns off the lights and closes the door to "get some tea." Would you do that to someone who is scared to death about spirits in her room? Also, later on, Liam tells the other two that he is going to take first watch. First off, he decides to take his watch in the garden, and Why are they taking watches? They are insomniacs! They CAN'T fall asleep on each other! That's enough for now...the other users have mentioned the other implausibilities for me. But one last the previews, they showed a scene where Lily and CZJ open their doors to come face to face with brick walls....did I miss that scene in the movie? Sorry for ranting!

  • July 30, 1999, 11:54 p.m. CST

    The WORST Movie Ever Made

    by Tvknowitall

    Bottom line, the Haunting was the worst movie ever made. The two characters in the beginning who left the house never came back or were even mentioned. Liam Neeson let them out with a key. He could have used it near the end when they tried to break open the gate with the car. You can't leave a hole like that that a three year old would spot. Also, the storyline that the dead children were being terrorized by their dead father is laughable. This movie should be destroyed and never spoken of again. On my first trip to this site, I was very dissapointed to see even a little praise for a piece of garbage like this.

  • <font color="red"><B>NOTE: This post contains material not suitable for children. But they'll plobably read it anyway.</B></font> First of all, I want to respond to a post by <B>Kiwi-1</B>. He asked where the Kubrick reference in The Haunting was. Well, Kiwi, the closest thing I saw was when one of the characters (I think it was Luke) busted a hole in the door and looked through it, it looked just like a scene in The Shining where Jack Torrence busts a hole in the door. Just thought you'd like to know that. Next order of business. Now, I know I'm gonna get a lot of shit from this, but, truthfully, I don't give a rat's ass. This is my opinion, so deal with it. Here it is, you ready? <center>I agree with Harry.</center> I thought this was a great movie. I thought the story was good. I thought the acting was good. The effects, the music, everything, was good. I even thought the ending was good. While it may have been better some other way, audiences today want to see the heroes survive and live happily ever after. Plus, I mean, you gotta admit, seeing Hugh Crane get sucked into the Purgatory Door was cool as hell. And that scene where the statue in the garden pulled Liam (yes, we're on a first name basis) into the fountain and then started spitting out blood. . . shit. That was awesome. It would have even surprised me, had it not been in the damn commercials for the film. I even thought this movie was remotely scary. And movies don't affect me. The only movies that I've <I>ever</I> thought were scary were <I>The Shining</I> and <I>The Excorcist</I>. Now, <I>The Haunting</I> has been added to this list. Although, since I can only have 3 favorite horror films (that's the official rule from The Association of What Movies You Think Are Scary [AWMYTAS]), it may get booted off by Tuesday when I go see <I>The Blair Witch Project.</I> Oh well, I'll live. Of course, maybe it was scarier to me because my girlfriend was terrified the whole time. You know, actually, come to think of it, it wasn't <I>that</I> scary. Well, shit, it was still a good movie. <B>FreakSho</B> <I>More fun than a barrel of monkeys.</I>

  • Aug. 1, 1999, 9:22 p.m. CST

    Harry's insane

    by 5812020

    An enjoyable film? Is that what you called the HAUNTING? The Haunting was the worst film of 1999. It actually made Speed 2 look mildly interesting and Speed 2 was the worst movie of the decade. And you're wrong about the most important thing in a horror story being the characters, it's the story. Harry what script of David Self's did you read b/c the main problem with this movie was the story. It made no sense whatsoever. It felt like it was a first draft of a work in progress. The 2nd most important thing ina horror story is the direction and Jan definitely dropped the ball. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, POLTERGEIST, THE EXORCIST all had competent acting, but it was the stories that made those films terrifying. It was the direction that made us look over our shoulders, check the closets when we got home. The HAUNTING is not scary. It's not interesting. I like Lilly Taylor, but she can't carry a film. Owen Wilson should never act again (Remember Anaconda?) unless it's from material he writes. And why not give him the script to re-write? The HAUNTING's BIG opening weekend suggests that filmgoers want to be scared. It's a shame Dreamworks didn't invest as much time into the story as they did in the Prod. Design.

  • Aug. 2, 1999, 7:40 a.m. CST

    the haunting

    by ddd

    This movie sucks as much as The Phantom Menace. All effects, no characters, nothing works - just one big boring mess and not a bit scary! The only thing that kept me awake was the beauty of Catherine Zeta-Jones, wasted here like all the other actors. I can't tell you how sick I am of this special effects shit!!!

  • Aug. 3, 1999, 9:39 a.m. CST

    HAUNTING = AWFUL!!! (by Warrior)

    by Warrior

    THIS IS THE WORST MOVIE OF THE YEAR. Everything everyone has complained about is true, plus more. 1) The characters ran away from the Griffin statue as they would a wild animal on the loose. "Let's get out of here, that thing is going to bite us!" ...... ......... IT'S A STONE STATUE COME TO LIFE!!!!! You don't react like that to a statue come to life! ....... 2) When the hands are reaching down for Eleanor, WHY CAN'T THEY GET HER? And why to Liam Neeson and the other chick act like "Oh, no, those hands are going to get her, let's get her out of there!" ???? People, THE CEILING JUST GREW HANDS!!! HELLO?? .... 3) Why did the giant stone guy taking a bath LET LIAM NEESON LIVE??? ........... 4) What happened to the woman who nearly lost an eye? (And why did the audience, including me, laugh our asses off?) ........ ....... 5) How did they get out, since it was night? Did Dr. Dimwit have a key, or what? ..... ... ......... 6) Why did they show the gas leaking out of the car, but it never ignited? DId they run the special effects budget out? ......... ....... 7) The cherub faces were silly & stupid. ........... .... 8) When she sees the "freindly ghostie" on her pillow, her reaction was nonexistent. Are these people all whacked out on Valium??? I would have been out of that room so fast there would have been smoke behind me. ........ ...... 9) Why didnt CZJ have a kissing scene (or better) with Lili????? Why mention she is bi unless you are going to do something about it. My gf is bi and she was expecting a real development of this character. ................ . ....... 10) This movie was TOTAL SHIT. Harry, you are fucked in the head. Take a rest, guy, you need it. ................... ...........ABOVE ALL DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE. YOU WILL REGRET IT AND WANT YOUR MONEY BACK. My girl and I did. *****THE HAUNTING >>SUCKS<<<******!!!!!!

  • Aug. 5, 1999, 4:41 p.m. CST


    by DavidsCritic

    Too slow... CGI used as the lifeblood of the movie... and like Phantom Menace, you know you have to have a good story behidn all the neato computer images. When will they learn???

  • Aug. 16, 1999, 12:06 a.m. CST

    Bump in the night

    by pressplus

    Hill House was one of the scariest sets I've ever seen. Too bad they couldn't come up with a decent story line or enough suspense to make a movie. Come on. That spiral staircase scene reminded me of Jurassic Park, which was three times more suspenseful. Oh, no, Liam might fall down...and twist his ankle! If the characters aren't scared, why should the audience be? The low-budget Amityville Horror flick had 10 times more dread. And it's a shame because that really was an excellent set. All those cherubs were chilling, like the clown in Poltergeist. Take something familiar and give it a tweak. Don't try to compensate with digital sleight of hand.

  • Aug. 18, 1999, 2:26 p.m. CST

    I enjoyed The Haunting very much.

    by AllisonRoad

    I went with some friends, and going to see the movie was decidedly more fun than going to see Wild Wild West, and I went with the same people! (Don't you dare tell me I only liked it because I went with friends) May I be flamed for it, but I liked the movie and I don't care what the critics say.

  • Aug. 19, 1999, 10:49 a.m. CST

    Harry, your passwords & reviews SUCK COCK!

    by Melissa20

    Correct me if I'm wrong,but when Crane's past was explained, didn't they say that he couldn't have any children??? That's why he built the house, kept adding rooms, kidnapped and killed kids, blah, blah, blah. Can someone explain to me (without dishing out any attitude), how Eleanor is Crane's great-grandaughter? If he had no kids, how did she magically become his grandaughter?? Hmmm, and people wonder why this movie SUCKED!!! Jan, I think you fucked something up along the way......

  • Aug. 25, 1999, 10:38 p.m. CST

    the haunting

    by Mr. H

    I wish people would read the damn book, or at least be aware of what is contained in Jackson's wonderful piece of psychological fiction. For instance, Eleanor doesn't have a crush on the guy, she has a crush on Teddy (who by the way, Zeta-Jones is all wrong for). Eleanor's insecurity and mental instability is the story here. As one of my favorite actors, Taylor is probably perfectly capable of portraying it given a chance. Harry, you are right to say that there is a happy ending is inappropriate. However, I don't think this is a special effects movie. It is more in need of the design artistry capable of portraying the skewed, wrong unease of the house. Eleanor's thoughts, though potentially cheesy, might give us some insight into her though. "I'm doing this all by myself," she thinks when she crashes her car. That really sums up the character in the book. I know books aren't movies though. Other directors have taken liberties with this source matierial and done okay. The Legend of Hell House, for example, is great fun in a noisy way, and really transmits that feeling of unease that one gets from the house. This probably is SOP here but, if you are curious the wrongness that the movie should have transmitted and really want to feel it read Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House We Have Always Lived in the Castle (much better book, IMHOP, totally screwy) The Lottery (your friend from English class) Steven King also did a really neat article in Danse Macabre that got me interest in reading Ms. Jackson. That's it for me. I'm going to go grumble back to bookchat and try to talk to the furiously masturbating teenagers about the messiah metaphors in Richard Adams.

  • Sept. 27, 1999, 10:06 a.m. CST

    It's just come out in the UK - Has to be the worst Film i've eve

    by yaragn

    Thanks for getting me all excited about seeing this, Harry. This film is the biggest non-event I've ever seen, and to top it all was highly dull. I've seen scary stuff in my microwave. I was almost sick during the film, it had got to the point when I was getting worried about how much less interesting things could get - until it looked like Eleanor and Dr Moreau were going to fall in love, and then I actually was sick. Four times did I consider whether to walk out of this movie. It had not only a weak ending, but a bad start and a horrifically dull middle part. Attention UK fans. Do not waste your money. Go and see Eyes Wide Shut or wait for Blair Witch.

  • Dec. 24, 1999, 5:57 p.m. CST

    Question about "The Haunting" (1999)

    by johnatnd

    Hello, What I was actually wondering about was the castle that was shown throughout the movie "The Haunting". The castle, if its real, is truly maginificent. I was just wondering where it is located, and who the owner is. I am very interested in finding out this information,and I would love to hear back at my email address from anyone who might know this information. Thank you. Johnny (

  • Feb. 22, 2000, 8:38 p.m. CST

    Oh boy....CASPER meets POLTERGEIST

    by PickledPunk

    I just LOVED that fact that they spent SO much money on this piece of garbage...and it BOMBED! BWP cleaned this out BIG TIME! Hey all you Hollywood whiteshirts: HAHAHAHAH! This movie RUINED any hopes of the ORIGINAL getting the recognition it deserves. PLEASE...any future film makers out there take note: Wastes of time like this will NOT get you anywhere in Hollywood. Please...we want to be ENTERTAINED!

  • June 12, 2000, 11:53 a.m. CST

    Shirley Jackson's Ending

    by Kermit(the frog)

    Did anyone happen to read the ending that was in the original Haunting of Hill House? In the book, everyone gets out alive, and is happy to begin driving away in their cars; everyone except for Eleanor, who still feels that strange attraction to the house. She starts her car up, and as everyone turns to watch, she drives it at 65 mph into a tree... forever becoming a part of Hill House.

  • Aug. 15, 2006, 8:31 a.m. CST


    by Wolfpack

  • Oct. 12, 2008, 4:33 a.m. CST

    lol I remember this flick

    by The Amazing G

    I kinda enjoyed it when I saw in theaters, but I was like 9 years old