Ambiguous Terror: The Haunting of Julia (1977) – review

We’re almost at the three-year-anniversary of Imprint Films, which is 2020, reinvigorated the physical media market in Australia. Earlier this month they raised the bar with their release of The Haunting of Julia (aka Full Circle); a sought-after supernatural horror story starring Mia Farrow.

After the tragic death of her daughter, an American woman living in London, Julia Lofting (Mia Farrow), attempts to start again, but lingering emotions and an unknown presence in her new home haunt our timid lead as she uncovers a local mystery that echoes from beyond the grave.

Similar in fashion to my favourite horror movie, The Omen, even down to Americans living abroad, The Haunting of Julia ventures far deeper than its contemporaries into ambiguity. At the outset, there’s no defined evil or villain, just negative feelings, often followed by strange and sometimes disturbing occurrences that easily be dismissed as the result of mental anguish. However, there are hints of a spectacular force at play, which seems to target the film’s supporting characters, much like a traditional slasher but with a slight Giallo quality. The use of subliminal images creates an underlying terror that gradually builds within the viewer despite little happening on screen; you’re scared, but not sure why.

Mia Farrow is radiant throughout her performance as Julia; the actresses’ natural delicateness almost invites the supernatural. Without sounding mean, Farrow, in a way, looks haunted, yet is undeniably pretty. It’s impossible to imagine anyone else playing the titular role. Keir Dullea as Julia’s estranged husband offers a nasty presence, who thinks he can get her back, yet has a very aggressive way of going about it. On the other hand, Tom Conti brings warmth to the film’s otherwise frosty tone as Julia’s friend, Mark. He’s got a swanky George Harrison vibe as he tinkers away in his antique store. With a plot shrouded in mystery, the film effortlessly draws you in, especially as we meet individuals who are each linked to the horrific event at its centre.


  • Option to view the film with The Haunting of Julia or Full Circle title
  • NEW Audio commentary by director Richard Loncraine and Simon Fitzjohn
  • NEW & EXCLUSIVE Audio commentary by authors Jonathan Rigby and Kevin Lyons
  • NEW & EXCLUSIVE Breaking the Circle – interview with composer Colin Towns
  • NEW & EXCLUSIVE Framing the Circle – interview with cinematographer Peter Hannan
  • NEW & EXCLUSIVE Joining the Circle – interview with associate producer Hugh Harlow
  • NEW & EXCLUSIVE Motherhood & Madness: Mia Farrow and the Female Gothic – a video essay by film historian Kat Ellinger
  • Newly remastered soundtrack on compact disc by composer Colin Towns, including 20 minutes of previously unheard music
  • Trailer
  • 44-page Collector’s Booklet with an essay by critic/writer Sean Hogan
  • Reversible sleeve featuring variant artwork/film title

For this release, Imprint delivers an impeccable array of all-new supplementary content featuring input from those who worked on the film, and scholars alike. Director Richard Loncraine’s candid memories of shooting The Haunting of Julia is a “must listen” for fans. While the filmmaker admits to being just as confused by some of the movie’s ambiguous scenes as viewers are, his anecdotes are amusing and insightful; the story of his failed attempts to get an actor to do a dangerous stunt is a stand-out! Equally delightful to listen to are authors and horror fans, Jonathan Rigby and Kevin Lyons, due to their passion and love for the movie and genre. For additional film analysis, Kat Ellinger’s visual essay allows for a more in-depth discussion on The Haunting of Julia’s primary motif of motherhood and the role of women in gothic horror; it’s refreshing to hear about these topics from a female voice as well. Visual learners who prefer reading about a film’s background and themes will love the collector’s booklet, which boasts an accessible and well-researched essay by Sean Hogan (as well as a selection of production stills, behind-the-scenes shots, and poster art from the film).

As this release includes The Haunting of Julia’s iconic soundtrack on CD, it’s only fitting we get an interview with its composer, Colin Towns. Instead of going into depth on how different sounds were achieved, he gives context for the mood of each song and their relation to their respective scene. Cinematographer Peter Hannan shares warm memories of those he worked with on this horror piece, as well as discusses how certain scenes were lit, and his passion for making actors look good. Finally, Hugh Harlow, who worked as a producer on the film, divulges some of the difficulties which occurred due to financing issues. – by Hannah Lynch


The Haunting of Julia has seen two 4K releases in the U.S. and the U.K since Imprint announced their Blu-ray release, which is nothing to scoff at. I even suspect the rival Ultra HD editions are only minutely better in quality given the film’s somewhat softened aesthetic.

Presented in 1080p from a 4K scan of the original negative, the 2.35:1 image displays remarkable detail, especially during the many close-up shots of the actors. The very specific colour pallet is beautifully accentuated.

LPCM 2.0 Mono, though limited, suites the film’s very poignant and melodic soundtrack.  Dialogue comes through at a decent volume, preventing viewers from having to readjust. English language and option HOH subtitles are included.

Suffice it to say, I think The Haunting of Julia has exceeded expectations, although, we physical media collectors can be a strange breed, so there will no doubt be some knit-picking. I’m thoroughly impressed with the overall release, and not since the VHS release of Independence Day has there been a lenticular cover so mesmerising; but they’re a magnet for dust, so best keep it upright among your other Imprint releases.

(1977, director: Richard Loncraine)



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direct blu-ray screen captures



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