Ghosts of Hanley House

Ghosts of Hanley House

GHOSTS OF HANLEY HOUSE wasn’t made by professionals. The pacing is uneven, the photography is more bland than a collaboration between H.G. Lewis and Andy Warhol, and there are long scenes of people trying to start their cars. And failing. But for me, this movie does something that the big-budget majesty of THE HAUNTING never could — it makes me believe in midnight seances, eerie lights escaping from under darkened doorways, and a determined woman named Louise Sherrill who made a movie that no one else could.

Like Ray Russell’s gothic horror novels and Robert Berry’s HOUSE OF DREAMS, GHOSTS OF HANLEY HOUSE moves slowly and favors experimental mood over action. Ambient organ drones drown in slapback delay while single bass guitar notes thump, making us feel like we’re trapped in the basement of a Satanic church. Actors stare into the camera and speak while spotlights blow out their facial features. There are abrupt inserts of a flaming circle and recurring shots of a glowing man in black; neither of these elements is ever explained. We see empty coffins, open graves, and a mysterious box that holds a grisly secret. None of this signifies anything deeper than servicing a plot that feels like a 1950s pre-code horror comic adapted by Dan Curtis at the height of his work on DARK SHADOWS. Luckily, I don’t need anything more than that from this movie.

Read the full review by Joseph A. Ziemba:
bleedingskull.com/ghosts-of-hanley-house-1968/