The Haunting, 1999

Director

Jan De Bont

Cast

visit the film locations

Visit: Belvoir Castle, about six miles from Grantham (rail: Grantham, from London King’s Cross)

Trivia

Forget this overanimated nonsense. Go back to the 1963 original The Haunting with Julie Harris and Claire Bloom. Black and white, low key and ten times as scary.

Also featuring Belvoir Castle in Lincolnshire, Young Sherlock Holmes (aka Young Sherlock Holmes and the Pyramid of Fear) is a splurgy period adventure, produced by Steven Spielberg and starring Nicholas Rowe (the stoner dealer of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) as the teenage sleuth.

The Haunting location: Harlaxton Manor, Grantham, Lincolnshire

The Haunting location: ‘Hill House’ for the Nineties: Harlaxton Manor, Grantham, Lincolnshire

Jan De Bont’s remake of the beautifully understated, and scary, 1963 classic The Haunting, directed by Robert Wise, goes down the route of full-on, in-your-face CGI effects. Despite the impressive cast, it’s far too cartoonish to be scary.

Which is a shame because the film boasts astonishing set design and an equally amazing exterior location. ‘Hill House’ in ‘Berkshires’ for the Nineties is the gorgeously over-the-top Harlaxton Manor, a neo-Elizabethan folly built in 1837 for the slightly obsessive Gregory Gregory on the site of a genuine 14th Century manor house.

A ‘carport’ porch entrance was added for the film, and the extravagantly carved lettering, announcing the owner’s name and the date of building, is blanked out. Yes, they actually toed down Harlaxton for its screen appearance.

The house was previously seen as the estate of the mad Earl of Gurney (Peter O’Toole) in Peter Medak’s 1971 film of Peter Barnes’s pitch black satire The Ruling Class.

The Haunting location: Harlaxton Manor, Grantham, Lincolnshire

The Haunting location: ‘Hill House’ for the Nineties: Harlaxton Manor, Grantham, Lincolnshire

Three miles from Grantham on the A607 in Lincolnshire, and now home to Harlaxton College, part of the University of Evansville, it’s not generally open to the public, though it’s possible to book group tours and there are occasional open days.

Although most of the interiors were created on soundstages in Florida, the real Harlaxton is eccentrically extravagant in its own way. I don’t know whether it’s a tribute to the film’s Art Department or a mark of Harlaxton’s flamboyance that scenes filmed in the real house are indistinguishable from the sets.

The Haunting location: Harlaxton Manor, Grantham, Lincolnshire

The Haunting location: Nell tells the other guests the horrible truth about Hugh Crain: Great Hall, Harlaxton Manor, Grantham, Lincolnshire

The ‘Billiard Room’, where Dr Marrow (Liam Neeson) comforts Nell (Lili Taylor) after ‘Welcome home Eleanor’ is daubed on the walls, and where Nell later tells the other guests that Hugh Crain killed the children, is Harlaxton’s carved wood-panel Great Hall.

The kitchen scenes used Belvoir Castle, home of the Duke of Rutland, about six miles from Grantham in Leicestershire, previously featured in Barry Levinson’s Young Sherlock Holmes and, more recently, as ‘Castle Gandolfo’ in The Da Vinci Code. It’s pronounced ‘Beaver Castle’. Stop sniggering at the back.

Buy the DVD

Region 1

Region 2



Buy the book

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk