FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Feb 6, 2014

Nope, still the worst

I know that y'all know that I love The Haunting (1963). I mean, I've said it so many times that even I'm sick of hearing it. It's like, man, we get it, if you could marry The Haunting you would, now let's all move on.

I also know that y'all also know that I loathe the 1999 remake about as much as I adore the original. Why, I have such a vendetta against Jan de Bont's The Haunting, you'd think that it chews its gum too loudly or it murdered my family. Why, I was just talking about it fairly recently!

Last night, however, I had a thought: what if I'm being too hard on it? Is it really so bad, or am I just holding on to a 15-year grudge for no reason? Is there hope that The Haunting '99 and I could ever come to some sort of a ceasefire? To find out the answer to all of these questions, I did something I never imagined that I'd do: I watched it again. I watched it again and tried to keep an open mind, tried not to compare it to the 1963 masterpiece, tried to treat it as its own thing, tried to enjoy it.

I tried.

And guess what? I failed because this movie is so terrible! I found myself completely unable to stop comparing it to the original (and to the book both films are based on, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House) because it's such a...such a...twisted perversion of that film that I can't ignore all of the differences, the oh so wrongness of it. This movie is obscene like that defiled statue in The Exorcist. It's the worst stereotype of an American: it's fat, loud, and stupid. It's an abomination! I've said it before and I'll say it again, because after watching The Haunting again, these sentiments are forever sealed in my heart place: If it were up to me, though, every copy of it would be placed in a big pile, and then the pile would be burned down, and then the ground would be sown with salt.

All that said, the film is not without its highlights. Let us peruse them!

1. Lili Taylor, because Lili Taylor.

2. Virginia Madsen! I'd totally forgotten she makes an appearance, but isn't she just the best? (yes)

3. This guy on the left, who has one word of dialogue.

4. Luke gets fucking decapitated in front of her, and Eleanor responds by calmly saying "Oh no."

5. Goodness gracious but Catherine Zeta-Jones is so pretty.

6. Eleanor's morphing teeth

7. Eleanor's hair vagina

That's it! Those are the highlights. Well, okay, so maybe Eleanor calling Hugh Crain "grandpa" could be a highlight but my god that is just so so so despicable, I can't. I can't.

When it comes to movies, music, any of that stuff, I tend to have a "live and let die" attitude. Everyone likes different things! The heart wants what the heart wants! There's no accounting for taste! You do you, girl! But for fuck's sake, if you think this is a good movie or- Charles Nelson Reilly forfend- you think The Haunting '99 is better than The Haunting ' really need to see your doctor because there is absolutely something wrong with you. It could be a blood clot, demonic possession, or worse and I worry about you, get it checked out.


Arbogast said...

I love (and by love I mean hate) how they gave Nell a "Put her down, you bitch!" moment when she tells Hugh Crane (something like) "You always said family was important... well, I've come HOME." Because Nell needs to be badass.

The guy on the left is Todd Field, by the way.

Chris Otto said...

I can barely even look at these screenshots (except for Virginia Madsen), let alone consider the possibility of watching this "film." Everything I've ever read and seen about it looks as nauseating as you say.

Coincidentally, I just read the Shirley Jackson short story "The Bus" in her "Come Along With Me" collection, and it's freaking fantastic. Ten pages of pure disorientation and terror. Highly recommended, but perhaps not at night, especially if there's a closet in your bedroom.

Unknown said...

Believe it or not, I watched this version of The Haunting before the original. However, even without having to original to compare it to I knew this was a cinematic abomination.

Kevin F said...

Really and truly one of the most horrible movies I have ever seen and I have seen some truly terrible movies including the remake of Psycho and Slices of Terror.

I am convinced there's a plane of Hell where the tortured souls of the damned are forced to watch this movie over and over again.

Aubyn said...

Still haven't dared to watch the remake but I do love the book and the 1963 film so one of these days, I might succumb to curiosity.

I am fond of Lili Taylor and I wish she got more leading roles. She was great in Dogfight. And probably would have been great as Eleanor if she'd been given a quality remake.

highwayknees said...

I agree with you FG . the original The Haunting is one of my top 5 favorite films of all time! Up there with :The Innocents, the Conformist, Chinatown, and Rosemary's Baby...I can watch it forever and never grow tired. So after I heard how bad the re-make was I decided I never would give it my time -cuz really-why should I when I have the original?

@ Chri Otto: I am a big Jackson fan since birth it seems, and have read all her books and her bio- and you are right about that story The Bus! Sheesh! Read it at your own peril...

Erich Kuersten said...

AHahahaha - do you mean me, darlin'? (The Haunting Remake is Better than the Original - yeah, I said it)"

As you say it's a matter of taste - I truly cannot stand Russ Tamblyn in the original, and can barely even stand Julie Harris, but I love the dark clothes, dark make-up, dark hair, and crazy ambience of the remake - sure it's terrible, but it's not boring and Wise has always seemed to think boring=important

Stacie Ponder said...

Erich, if these thoughts persist for four hours or more, PLEASE see your doctor!

Kev D. said...

The title of your review made me laugh-snort at work.

spazmo said...

The new haunted house location was pretty wild, and YES ALWAYS to Lili Taylor, but Julie Harris got to me in the same way Candace Hilligoss and Judith O'Dea got to me: meek but brave souls whose ultimate fates are piercingly poignant.

Stacie Ponder said...

^ Agreed! Poor Eleanor, it's so soul-crushing every time, even if she's not always "likable". It bums me out, because Lili Taylor could have fucking KILLED in the role if it'd been kept closer to the original, rather than turning her into a confident Super Ghostbuster. "Everyone calls me Nell!" What? Bitch, NO ONE calls you Nell. No one has ever shown you the least amount of affection or attention, and that's why you fall under the house's spell, geez.

Anonymous said...

When my husband and I were dating, he took me to The Haunting '99 because he knew I loved the book. The only thing I could say on the way home was, "The book is not like that. The book is *so* not like that..." I've never forgiven that movie.

johnbgood52 said...

Yes, it's absolutely awful- but it's still better than the abomination that is Rob Zombie's 'Halloween.'