The Haunting (Jerry Goldsmith)

In 1999, director Jan de Bont brought to life the second cinematic adaptation of Shirley Jackson's novel, "The Haunting of Hill House". Lacking the intelligence and and rich psychological drama and dread that made the novel, and Robert Wise's previous take, so compelling, the film was largely reviled by critics, thought the splendid production design and all-star cast was enough to elevate it to a modest success. The film was aided by a haunting score by composer Jerry Goldsmith, the last horror score of his career, though he was certainly no stranger to the genre. Goldsmith here provides an eerie theme for the cursed house, a lovely melody for our protagonist, Eleanor, some thundering terror and action, and even a wicked calliope waltz to haunt your nightmares.

The score has been released twice now by Varèse Sarabande, a shorter album for the film's release, and a significant expansion in 2017. Both feature the same poster design of the ghostly manor silhouette against black. A fantastic, moody image, but of course, I wanted to provide some alternates, for those that wanted something a little less minimal. I ended up creating a total of five covers, including three that are essentially original designs, not based on official posters, but imagery from within the film. 

Cover 1 was a bit of a journey to create. So this is the portrait of Hugh Crain, the original owner, who cursed Hill House. The original painting seen hanging on the set was painted by Gunnar Ahmer, though there is no good copy of it available digitally. I found a user on Etsy who had basically painted over a still image from the film, in an effort to recreate that image in higher quality. Unfortunately, the image was still a bit soft, and worst of all, it still retained that warped perspective (presumably seem by a character's POV angle in film). So first I set about trying to correct the angle of the image, rotating it a few degrees and then morphing the shape perspective till it seemed properly lined up. I then took that image and ran it through an online image enhancer application. I've used this app before, to somewhat mixed results, but here the results were just breathtaking! It added so much detail and sharpness that the image almost felt brand new. For this image (and a few more below), I also ended up recreating the film's logo, using a similar effect, though I wasn't able to replicate that gritty grain texture exactly. 

The second cover uses a poster created later, probably for the film's hi-def video release. Frankly, the image is a little bit goofy, with the lime green hue, and clearly a pretty photoshopped image that feels a little unnatural. Ideally, I would have used whatever original production stills of Neeson and Zeta-Jones that were used for this poster, to try to restore some more detail and skin tones, but I couldn't find them, unfortunately. So I kept the poster as is, though I shrunk the top gothic ceiling down a little bit. The real challenge was figuring how to design the text into the image. I wasted hours going back and forth between different colors, placement, etc., and was never entirely satisfied. I had an alternate version that kept all the text at the bottom, and popped a bit more using yellow/white text. In the end, they were probably both about equally problematic, but functional, and I chose this one.

Cover 3 is an original concoction of sorts. I took a still image of Hill House from the film, then added a stormier sky, and then decided to add a portion of the Hugh Crain image from above. I liked the idea of Crain literally looking down over his ancestral home. Originally I was wanted a version in color, but in the end I found that a desaturated, sepia look helped make the disparate elements more cohesive. It might be a tad silly and overly-gothic, but so is the film.

The fourth cover uses the central poster of the film, with the same spectral silhouette of the house used on the official albums, but here with the three leads of the film above, in classic floating heads style. I had to stack and superimpose several images to get this in as hi-rez as I could, and then added an extra  layer from an old VHS cover that maintained the actors' more natural flesh tones, to try to reintroduce a bit of warmth to their green faces. Though I am a fan generally of Varèse's iconic "The Deluxe Edition" banner that they use at the top of all their special releases, in this case, I opted to create an alternate text version that was less obtrusive (and a credit style I'll have to use again in the future). 

Finally, Cover 5 again uses the Crain painting, though here I zoomed in, and also tweaked the background canvas color to match the greener hues of the other official posters, while still trying to maintain a somewhat lifelike skin tone. In the end, to fill in the negative spaces, I decided to add on a Victorian style frame, which hopefully isn't too intrusive. In the end, I'd say I gave good ol' Hugh a nice run in the sun, and am happy to offer an image that doesn't quite exist elsewhere on the internet. 

Hope you enjoy the collection, and let me know what your favorite of the bunch is, or which you think best captures the tone of the film.

No comments

Post a Comment