With The Woman In Black currently on release, Jayne Nelson looks back at some its haunted house predecessors
The Woman In Black is currently scaring the underwear off cinemagoers nationwide (not a pretty sight, we can tell you), and the end of last year saw the release of the creepy The Awakening, so it seems like the good old haunted house movie is back in fashion. It’s a long tradition filled with terrifying examples of creaky doors and ghostly footsteps, not to mention pant-wetting scares. Jayne Nelson takes a look at ten of the best…
10 The Amityville Horror
Allegedly based on a true story – although nobody seems to be able to corroborate the facts, and the film went off in all sorts of fanciful directions without a thought to them anyway – The Amityville Horror has since spawned an astonishing 10 sequels/remakes and even a small musical hit (listen out for a bizarre Star Trek cameo).
Leaving aside whether it’s a true story or not (we reckon not), The Amityville Horror has a lot going for it. The setting is fairly standard: an unsuspecting family move into a house in which a grisly murder-spree has been committed. There’s something nasty in the basement (a gateway to Hell, perhaps?) and a series of strange accidents result in them calling in an exorcist, but to no avail. It seems the spirits in the house want a repeat performance of the bloody night a year beforehand…
Two things make this film a cut above the rest: a downright creepy score, which features a little girl singing “la la” in such an ominous way that Poltergeist cleverly did the same again a few years later but with even more kids; and the fact that the house in question has eyes! It actually looks at you with two of its windows, giving it a personality many haunted homes lack. Brrrr.
Scariest moment: Rod Steiger, as a priest, turns up to exorcise the house. The room he’s in fills with flies. Hundreds of flies, swarming everywhere. Then a voice says, “Get out!” We bloody would, make no mistake.
Selling point: Did we mention this house has eyes?