The Legend of Hell House
Release Date: June 15, 1973
Director: John Hough
Starring: Pamela Franklin, Roddy McDowall, Clive Revill, Gayle Hunnicutt
I love watching old forgotten horror films from time to time and I stumbled upon The Legend of Hell House on a cable channel that plays a lot of obscure B movies as well as some classics. Its basically the story of 4 investigators that enter a supposedly haunted house and begin searching for answers. The group is composed of a physicist (Revill), his wife (Hunnicutt), a medium (Franklin) and the sole survivor of the original group who explored the house (McDowall). The movie is based on a book called Hell House written by Richard Matheson. Matheson also handles the writing for the films screenplay.
The movie is already at an advantage because all of its characters are educated about the paranormal so there is no grace period where the characters need to discover that the house truly is haunted. They are well aware that the house is actually haunted but they must find a way to eliminate the spirits. I can see that there is a very strong possibly that James Wan got some inspiration for The Conjuring from Hell House. The whole film takes place over the course of one week where all four people are living in the house. The spirits start ruffling the feathers of their new guests immediately and force them to become unsure of each other.
Hell House appears to have a fairly healthy budget for a horror film at the time. The haunted house set is very well executed and its creates a very creepy atmosphere. The majority of the film features only the 4 main characters so in some ways the house feels like a character itself.
Hell House is an interesting film but it still shows its age. All the actors are top notch, especially McDowell who stands out from the rest of the pack, but the scares have disappeared over the years which can be somewhat expected for a nearly 50 year old horror movie. There is an absolutely hilarious scene with a cat that was probably reasonably scary in its day but didn’t do much more than make me laugh.
Despite the lack of scares the mystery surrounding the house kept my interest until the end. I would argue that movie ends quite quickly and it felt a little rushed in the final moments without any really fulfilling conclusion so that was a little frustrating. If you are a fairly loyal film fan I can recommend The Legend of Hell House but its not essential viewing. If you do have interest Legend of Hell House is available on bluray on the Scream Factory website and it looks like its also available on YouTube if you’d like to take a peek at it for free. I’ll leave the trailer below if you think you may be interested in checking this one out.
The Legend of Hell House gets 63 out of 100.