Welcome to Hill House
Inarguably, a central character in "The Haunting" is Hill House itself
Inarguably, a central character in "The
Haunting" is Hill House itself. "The story is driven
by Hill House," Cohn Wilson says. "We had to make it
come to life, to give it a feeling of something not just real,
An award-winning production team was assembled to collaborate
with De Bont in bringing Hill House to life, including director
of photography Karl Walter Lindenlaub ("Independence Day");
Academy Award -winning production designer Eugenio Zanetti ("Restoration");
three-time Academy Award-winning editor Michael Kahn ("Saving
Private Ryan," "Schindler's List"); Oscar-winning
composer Jerry Goldsmith ("The Omen," "L.A. Confidential");
Oscar-winning visual effects supervisors Phil Tippett ("Jurassic
Park," "Return of the Jedi") and Craig Hayes ("Jurassic
Park"); costume designer Ellen Mirojnick ("Twister,"
"Speed"); seven time Academy Award-winning sound designer
Gary Rydstrom ("Saving Private Ryan, ' "Titanic")
and special effects coordinator John Frazier ("Twister, "Speed").
One of the elements of the book that most intrigued the filmmakers
was the premise that a place could take on the evil of those who
inhabited it. "This house is the creation of a truly evil
mind.. .the product of Hugh Cram's twisted vision," Arnold
Production designer Eugenio Zanetti worked closely with Jan De
Bont to render that vision in some of the largest and most elaborate
sets ever created. Zanetti recalls that his first impression,
was, as he described it to the director, "'The Shining' meets
'Citizen Kane,' and Jan wholeheartedly agreed."
"It had to be oppressive in its scale," says De Bont.
"I wanted the characters not only to be physically lost in
the house, but also to feel emotionally lost. When you are alone
in a huge space you see things from a totally new perspective.
Roth adds, "Eugenio researched everything down to the most
minute detail in an effort to project who Hugh Cram was and why
he would build a house like that. It was a fascinating process
From his research, Zanetti took a stylistic approach typical of
that adopted by the American robber barons of the 19' century.
Having become very rich almost overnight, they wanted what they
imagined was a grand house in Europe and shipped in materials
from all over the world to construct enormous mansions.
Though the era in which Hill House was built was Victorian, Zanetti
chose to incorporate an eclectic mix of Moroccan, Indian, Gothic,
Neoclassic, Baroque and Romanesque influences in his designs.
"A sort of madness went into this house; it is the work of
a crazy mind-Hugh Cram's, not mine," Zanetti says with a
laugh. "His presence is everywhere. In fact, one of the first
things I proposed was that the point where his portrait hangs
at the top of the stairs be the center of the whole house. From
there he can oversee everything. His arms extend in all directions-the
circular and semi-circular corridors always lead you back to him.
You can get lost but you always return to him."
Zanetti's designs lent a certain creative freedom to the filming
process, which the filmmakers could appreciate. "The house
has a flow to it, a feeling and a rhythm that the camera is able
to take full access of," Wilson says. "It allows you
to swoop and move through rooms and corridors as if you're flowing
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