Before The Haunting of Hill House There Was The Lottery

Before The Haunting of Hill House There Was The Lottery

Horrorific content by penguin_pete on October 14th, 2018 | Netflix, Videos |

Alright, the Present Author was afraid this would happen. Netflix’s new series The Haunting of Hill House has premiered, and while it’s getting some positive buzz and people seem to like it, it has NOTHING to do with the book. Which means I’m going to have to explain that over and over.

Now, I’m far from a literary purist; I ranked The Shining in my top ten horror movies of all time, despite it taking grand liberties with the book. But that’s Stanley Kubrick, a titan of talent himself, adapting Stephen King, whose prose doth work better upon the page twas written. But Shirley Jackson, for cryin’ out loud? She did a specific, gothic kind of psychological story with the original characters. It could have been any old haunted house series without that, so why not just name it “Any Old Haunted House Series”?

Look, here’s an example of what Shirley Jackson could do with just a short story. This is a scholastic adaptation of her short story The Lottery, produced by the Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation. It was shown in classrooms of its day as a civics exercise, and this print even goes into discussion questions at the end.

Now, maybe that grabbed you or maybe not. But one blogger over at Dangerous Minds recalls that seeing this film in a classroom was shell-shocking. That post also mentions the initial reaction to Jackson’s story in print; she got hundreds of angry letters chewing her out for the story. Since she said her goal with the story was to shock readers, that was mission accomplished and chalk one up for ol’ Shirley.

Allegedly The Lottery is getting its own feature-length expansion, although again it isn’t suited for feature treatment.

Ah well, anyway, let’s enjoy the Netflix ghost story on its own terms, as we have to by default with most adaptations. If we want a more faithful adaptation, The Haunting (1963) will never be beat. Although that one has only the partial title but the Netflix one has the full title so people will get confused thinking the Netflix one is the truest adaptation, and now I’m stuck for the rest of my life explaining another movie batch over and over...

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