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THE HAUNTING

About The Production

From the page to the screen, stories of ghosts and haunted houses have long been an entertainment staple, sending chills up the spine and keeping night-lights glowing to ward away what lurks in the darkness. Few ghost stories have left as many lights burning as Shirley Jackson's classic novel The Haunting of Hill House.

Producers Susan Arnold and Donna Arkoff Roth, both longtime fans of the book, jumped at the chance to bring it to the screen. A more personal motive for wanting to make the movie was their shared roots in the fright genre: Roth's father, Samuel Arkoff, the head of American International Pictures, had been responsible for a number of classic horror flicks, including "The Amityville Horror," as well as "The Pit and the Pendulum" and other films based on the work of Edgar Allen Poe. Arnold is the daughter of director Jack Arnold who helmed such cult horror favorites as "The Creature From the Black Lagoon," "It Came From Outer Space" and "The Incredible Shrinking Man."

When director Jan De Bont heard of plans to make a contemporized screen adaptation of Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, he conveyed a strong interest in the project, even before seeing a script. When he read the screenplay by David Self, his interest turned to excitement. "The book was extremely imaginative, and I thought David Self had done a fantastic job adapting it into a very contemporary screenplay," De Bont states. "I have always enjoyed scary movies The Exorcist' and 'The Omen,' but the genre has changed in recent years. Unlike most horror films today, 'The Haunting' is not a slasher film; it has a really smart, character-driven script that is truly terrifying."

The producers were thrilled at the prospect of having Jan De Bont direct "The Haunting." Roth offers, "We felt there was no one better to direct this film, because Jan understands how to take audiences on a ride and keep them on the edge of their seats."

"Jan is a proven master at creating the kind of tension we needed to feel in this house," Arnold agrees. "I think some of the scariest things in movies are the things you don't see-the idea of what might be waiting around the corner or behind a door and the mood Jan created really reflects that."

Producer Cohn Wilson adds, "Jan has a total knowledge of what goes into making a movie like this. He is able to pre-visualize a lot of the effects and how all the elements will come together when the sequence is complete. That gives him a great advantage on a project with a large amount of visual and practical effects, which all have to be combined and look seamless. Audiences have become very sophisticated and are very keen on what's believable. This is a movie that's going to play tricks with your mind."

"I've always been intrigued by those darker fears we all have, and I wanted to make them come alive. With the modern technology available today, I knew I could do that," says De Bont, who also served as the film's executive producer. "The film is definitely a manipulation of the mind. We show things that are true, things that are not true and things that might be true. You don't know what to believe.., is it real or is the whole thing a hallucination?"

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