RoosterVision: Dorothy Macardle’s THE UNINVITED (The Literary Guild of America, 1942)

An ongoing series of articles spotlighting movies, music, art, comics, and other assorted media.

…an ongoing series of articles spotlighting movies, music, art, comics, and other assorted media that we at Rooster Republic Press find ourselves enjoying. Once a week, on Thursdays, we will showcase new and old works and, hopefully, help spread the word on great stuff you might otherwise miss out on.

RoosterVision was previously the name of our non-fiction imprint, and since those titles and that line of books are no longer, we have decided to resurrect RoosterVision for the purpose of this showcase. Enjoy!

For our seventh entry in our “RoosterVision” series, we’re cheating a little bit by including the book and the movie.

Dorothy Macardle’s THE UNINVITED (originally titled UNEASY FREEHOLD) is a very good book about a haunted house, which became the blueprint for what is, arguably, one of the best haunted house movies ever made (Lewis Allen’s first, and best, feature-film). Top-notch atmosphere throughout the film adaptation, courtesy of Academy Award-nominated cinematography from Charles Lang Jr., is still capable of producing chills. But, when asked what kind of input Dorothy Macardle had on the film, Lewis Allen states, simply, that he never met the author. A slight, we believe, however unintentional the remark may have been.

Dorothy Macardle’s novel was adapted, faithfully but not slavishly, by the screenwriters. Her influence is undoubtedly all over the picture, from the first frame to the last. The balance of cheer and dread, so artfully staged in the film, is there on the page if one seeks out the book. This is a tale, after all, where cheer is ultimately the downfall of the malicious specter haunting the house named Cliff End. Love, in Macardle’s book, is the only weapon worth wielding against hate.

And, despite its age and the overall lightness in narrative tone, the book is just as capable as the film in its ability to elicit fear. This is not a nice ghost, by any stretch:

I forced my way against an impalpable pressure to the foot of the stairs and looked up at her. She stood, taller than I had seen her before, expanding and gathering form, palely luminous. She began to float down towards me, with a slow, sweeping movement. I saw the features; the eyes were intensifying their light. I did not want Stella to see those eyes.

Macardle’s wonderful, eerie book has been reprinted, thankfully, and you can get a copy HERE.

Lewis Allen’s film adaptation is available via The Criterion Collection HERE.

Both film and book are masterpieces of their respective forms and must-see/must-read for horror fans, especially if one finds themselves leaning towards the haunted house subgenre.

Thanks for reading.

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