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Haunted Books to Movies: Haunting of Hill House
Posted In: Ghost And Demons  6/6/12
By: Yona Williams

Books that involve haunted houses usually center on restless souls, angry spirits and ghosts that turn the lives of occupants upside down. The subject is quite popular in the literary world, which often spills over to other forms of entertainment. In this article, you will encounter two haunted house tales that share similarities and were both made into movie adaptations.

As a finalist for the National Book Award, The Haunting of Hill House (written by Shirley Jackson in 1959) was considered one of the best literary ghost stories published during the 20th century. After being released, the tale was transformed into two films and a play of the same name. Instead of presenting a horror tale, Jackson uses elements of terror to get her point across. She wishes to speak to the emotions of the readers, as well as present the complexity of the relationship that her haunted house has with the personalities of the characters that it encounters.

In the Hill House, odd happenings have been known to take place. The mansion is 80 years old. In the book, four main characters are invited to the house. They include an investigator of the supernatural (Dr. John Montague), a shy young recluse named Eleanor Vance, a saucy artist named Theodora, and Luke Sanderson, the young heir to Hill House. The doctor hopes to find scientific evidence of the existence of the supernatural during his stay at the house. He rents the home for the summers and sends invitations to several guests who have had their share of paranormal experiences. Only two accept – Eleanor and Theodora. They travel to the mansion, where they will live in isolation with Montague and Luke.

Film Adaptations

The book was turned into a film on two different occasions. The first time, the movie was released in 1963. This version stayed close to the plot of the book and was received well by the public and critics. In 1999, another movie was made that included Liam Neeson as the doctor, Catherine Zeta Jones (as Theodora or Theo), Owen Wilson (as Luke Sanderson), and Lili Taylor (as Nell – the recluse). Bruce Dern and Virginia Madson also starred in the film. Critics were not so nice with the second adaptation, which was very different from the novel. The fantasy horror terrorized characters, and killings in the movie did not go over very well with viewers.

Taglines used to promote the second film included: "Some houses are born bad," "It will haunt you," and "There once was a house, a bright happy home, something bad happened, now it sits all alone. It's pillars are its bones, it's walls are it's skin, it's windows are it's eyes, won't you come in."


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