Steve Simels
November 19, 1993 at 05:00 AM EST

This fine adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House is absurdly tame by contemporary horror standards: There’s no gore, no special effects, and the pre-Poltergeist haunted-house spooks are never even seen. Thanks to Robert Wise’s assured direction, there are several effective shock and a palpable atmosphere of creepy menace. Still, what this new laserdisc — The Haunting‘s first video appearance in the wide-screen format — proves is that suggestive horror doesn’t work well with expansive visuals. Time after time, Wise’s Panavision compositions seem at odds with the claustrophobic sense of space the story requires. In fact, this is one case where the cropped tape version may be a better video choice. B

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