Don Taylor, director of Hammond’s Beatniks on Conkey’s production of “The Haunting of Hill House,” was admittedly unimpressed with the 1999 reworking of the classic thriller.
“In the remake, they had all kinds of blood and guts and stuff, and I thought that that took away from the story,” he said. “This has an actual story involved. There’s a theatrical aspect to it. If some people want to see a more intelligent, or different view, of Halloween or ghosts, this is it.”
Running at Beatniks Oct. 19 through Nov. 4, “Haunting” tells the tale of Dr. John Montague, who rents an antiquated mansion for the summer to investigate claims of supernatural events and disturbances within its walls.
The “Haunting” tale was introduced to the masses at bookstores in 1959, penned by acclaimed American author Shirley Jackson and considered a horror literature benchmark by many critics and readers.
Jackson’s novel was adapted for the big screen as “The Haunting” first in 1963 and again 13 years ago, starring Liam Neeson and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Beatnik’s presentation of “Haunting” was created for the stage by F. Andrew Leslie, who has also adapted classic thrillers for the boards such as “The Spiral Staircase” and “The Hound of the Baskervilles.”
“I love the play, and I love the original movie which is what got me started on this, because it deals with the mind and how the house affects the mind,” Taylor said.
Jeff Peterson from Chicago Heights plays Montague in Beatniks’ “Haunting” production. He is joined onstage by St. John’s Brendon Denton as Like Sanderson, the inheritor of the house who joins Montague in his investigation, Christina Johnson from Valparaiso as fellow investigator Theodora and Dyer’s Bonnie Johnson as mansion caretaker Mrs. Dudley.
“I couldn’t ask for a better cast,” Taylor said. “I was ecstatic when I got them and they work real hard … everything’s falling into place.”