The Haunting of Hell House on the Haunted Hill
News this week that Netflix was planning a new series based on Shirley Jackson’s story THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE inspired this here post. I’m penning it (actually keyboarding it) as a sort of public service, addressing something that has been a bane to me personally in bygone days. I will endeavor to help myself as I help each of you, when it comes to telling the difference between a few books, movies, and series that all have maddeningly similar titles. The aforementioned THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE has been made into two movies. THE HAUNTING, directed by Robert Wise in 1963, remains the finest haunted house movie, and one of the better Horror movies, period, ever made, whereas the 1999 remake kinda suuuuuuucked. We will have to wait to see which of the two films this new series skews most closely towards.
Don’t confuse any of the former with THE HAUNTING OF HELL HOUSE, which also came out in 1999, but is based on the Henry James story THE GHOSTLY RENTAL. I’m sure it’s just coincidence that they changed the title to something so resembling the other film. Then there is THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, which was made in 1973 and is based on the novel HELL HOUSE by author extraordinaire RICHARD MATHESON (best known for I AM LEGEND). Lastly, there is HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, a 1959 film by William Castle, starring Vincent Price. It ALSO, got remade, ALSO in 1999. Again, I’m sure that’s just coincidence. As with THE HAUNTING, stick with the original on this one.
In summation, we have three separate properties, each based on three different stories by three different authors. We’ve got two lackluster remakes, which both came out in the same year. To avoid confusion and wasted time, I advise reading the three pieces of source material by Jackson, James, and Matheson, respectively. I advise watching the original THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, THE LEGEND (as opposed to the haunting) OF HELL HOUSE, and the original THE HAUNTING. Skip everything else. Got it?