Warner Bros has missed an opportunity with its DVD release of Robert Wise's classic The Haunting - "a genuinely startling film that still retains effective tension", as our review calls it.
Indeed, this haunted house movie is still a creepy delight, but today's technology could have been used far more effectively to present this chiller to a new generation of horror fans. The compensation lies in a killer commentary.
Technically, here's what's wrong: the image transfer to disc is from a good print but the picture could be better. Unfortunately the mono sound is worse. It lacks power and is pathetically thin. Warner Bros need not have bothered to create a detailed 5.1 sound mix, but even a simple effort to clean up the sound, add some bass, and then direct the knocking sounds of the house into the subwoofer to surely terrifying effect would have been good.
Here's what's right: a lot of effort has gone into a quality commentary, dominated by contributions from Robert Wise, but also featuring other cast and crew members. Although getting on in years, Wise has done a few commentary tracks on DVD now and once he gets warmed up, he usually has plenty of info to share. He is on good form here and reveals many of the simple but effective technical tricks of the movie.
Wise is hardly likely to lay into his much lauded creation but he doesn't really cover the messy plotting at the beginning of the film. If you're after revelations as to how the cast got on, actress Julie Harris doesn't hold back describing how difficult the shoot was.
Fans of the film will rightly be excited to hear about such an entertaining and educational commentary. It's a shame that Warner Bros presents a barely acceptable version of the movie on DVD.
This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-N5 DVD player.