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haunting of hill house tv miniseries
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In this article, I will compare the 2018 horror/mystery/drama TV horror series (actually mini-series) “The Haunting of Hill House” to the 1963 horror movie “The Haunting”.

The 1963 movie was an adaptation of the 1959 novelThe Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson.

There are two adaptations between the 1963 movie and the 2018 one is Wes Craven’s 1999 “The Haunting” and the other is the mini-series, “Rose Red” (2002), with a script by Stephen King. I haven’t watched “Rose Red” or the Wes Craven versions yet, so I can’t include them in this comparison.

NameThe HauntingThe Haunting of Hill House
Media TypeFeature FilmTV Mini-series
GenreHorrorHorror, Mystery, Drama
CountryEnglandUnited States
Production HousesArgyle EnterprisesFlanaganFilms, Amblin Television, Paramount Television, Netflix
ScriptAdaptation of the novelLoosely based on the novel

the haunting (1963)
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“The Haunting” is a very Gothic, very American horror movie, notwithstanding that it’s a British film filmed in England, in a Victorian/Gothic mansion. The horror of this movie is psychological rather than graphic.

Even if it’s rather tame as a horror movie, the paranormal elements that the movie expounds are quite scary for those that had similar paranormal experiences happen to them, as I had.

“The Haunting of Hill House” is set in contemporary times and, as I see it, it doesn’t have anything to do with the story because it’s nothing like the 1963 film, that is an actual adaptation and not something “loosely-based” in the Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel like that miniseries is.

I watched the miniseries because I read people on social media saying that they had loved it and that for them it was good. I can’t say the same about this miniseries. For me, it was entertaining but not as intense as I expected it will be, and ultimately did let me nonplussed when I finished watching it.

In “The Haunting” doctor Markway (Richard Johnson) invites Nell (Julia Ann Harris), Theo (Claire Bloom), and Luke (Russ Tamblyn) to the old castle-like Victorian-Gothic mansion “Hill House” a house that “was born bad”, meaning that it had a personality of its own since the days when it was built, and messed up those that inhabited it.

In “The Haunting of Hill House” those still alive in a family of five must return to Hill House, the place where they lived when the three sons of the couple where children.

horror series: haunting of hill house tv miniseries
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I enjoyed the acting of “The Haunting” enormously. I felt identified with the character Luke from the first scene he appears in; on the first third of the movie. Even if it’s a depressing and quite sinister horror movie, I laughed at a few of the comic relief snippets provided by the character played by Russ Tamblyn.

I didn’t realize I was watching the same actor that is one of the protagonists of “West Side Story”, and doctor Jacoby of “Twin Peaks” until the next day when I checked the movie on Wikipedia.

I think “The Haunting of Hill House” is a deeply character-driven work. The actors and actresses get you interested in the characters.

The characters have both human and more-than-human characteristics and overall they are believably played.

Likes and dislikes “The Haunting”

the haunting (1963)
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The strongest points for me were both the script and the location. In the genre department, it spooked me and over-excited me because it reminds me of a paranormal experience I had.

“The Haunting”’s outdoor photography is the stuff of dreams; or nightmares. I might have an overdeveloped aesthetic sense or not, I don’t know, the truth of how I felt when watching the shots of the mansion from outside was that this movie had one of the coolest Victorian/Gothic creepy house photography ever.

My conclusion is that to take six months to write a screenplay pays off in the end because the script was very snappy, and engaging. The movie was creepy, very moving emotionally, and way thrilling during the buildup and keeps you entertained until the last minute.

Likes and dislikes “The Haunting of Hill House”

haunting of hill house tv miniseries
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My disappointment with “The Haunting of Hill House” is that I didn’t realize that the more genre crossover, the more diluted the elements of each genre become. This mini-series is an example.

I don’t remember practically any of the horror parts of the series, one year after watching it. But I remember the character-driven parts, which I enjoyed, and that is the best this mini-series has to offer, as I see it.

Another thing I like about “The Haunting of Hill House” is the going back and forth in time and mixing the time frames between the time when the family lived there and the present.


the haunting (1963)
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I learned when reading about the technical aspects that the writing of the script of “The Haunting” took six months. That’s a long time for someone like me that develops screenplays in three months.

What the movie taught me is that a horror movie can have a few, sober comic relief moments and that those moments aren’t going to make it less spooky in any way. Also, taking six months to develop a script makes for a very tight, and quite effective screenplay.

What the mini-series taught me is that given a script that’s based on very well developed characters, a story that is weak at the genre level can be made good if it embraces a character-driven approach from start to finish.

If you enjoy character-driven, slow-burn works then you’ll love “The Haunting of Hill House”. If you like mystery and drama then this mini-series has a high chance of satisfying your appetites.

If you enjoy horror movies about haunted houses “The Haunting” should be high in your priority list if you haven’t watched it yet.

I don’t recommend hardcore horror fans to watch “The Haunting of Hill House”. If you’re after formulaic, shocking horror, you’re not going to walk away from the mini-series with a good opinion of it.

The Haunting” is a very tragic horror movie and I wouldn’t recommend it to those suffering from depression or bereavement.

What do You Think Which is Better The Horror Series or The Movie?

I know they are two very different renditions of the same story, still you can’t deny that you can prefer one over the other. Please tell us in the comments below which one you prefer. Also, if you have experienced a similar format incongruity, of a horror movie remade into a horror series, please let us know which ones and if you liked them or not.

© Bholenath Valsan 2021 — The “The Haunting of Hill House” (Horror Series vs 1963 Movie)– Horror Series


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