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199 of 208 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scarier than I thought it would be...
I am now officially a fan of Richard Matheson.
I started out by reading "I am Legend", which is one of the best horror stories ever written, so I was expecting a little less from this. And, it isn't as good as "I am Legend", but then again, not much is. I am on a crusade now to get all of my horror-loving friends and family to read Matheson - it...
Published on November 4, 2000 by David Robinson

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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fine haunted house story, if you haven't seen the movie
"Hell House" is a fine haunted house novel, written in a quick prose that reads like a movie script. And that is the problem: if you have seem the movie, it totally spoils the book. The novel has little more to offer besides a couple of sexually oriented scenes and a more violent climax (which I guess would have raised excessively the budget for the movie...)...
Published on December 26, 2000 by FABRICIO M. R. Silva


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199 of 208 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scarier than I thought it would be..., November 4, 2000
By 
David Robinson "Home Dad" (Bradford, MA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hell House (Paperback)
I am now officially a fan of Richard Matheson.
I started out by reading "I am Legend", which is one of the best horror stories ever written, so I was expecting a little less from this. And, it isn't as good as "I am Legend", but then again, not much is. I am on a crusade now to get all of my horror-loving friends and family to read Matheson - it seems his work has been virtually buried by the enormous amount of really bad horror that seemed to spring up in Stephen King's wake (which isn't King's fault...publishers just started seeing dollar signs...). Matheson is a rarity in the field of horror - he's classic.
"Hell House" is a fast read. Each chapter consists of one day, and the chapters are broken down into little sections (7:08pm, 1:39 am, etc.) that keep the pace quick, and make it very easy for you to say, "Oh, I guess I can squeeze in just a little more before turning out the light." (Or at least going to sleep!) The writing is snappy, and to the point. Matheson creates vivid, cinematic images without having the writing call too much attention to itself. Surely this is a skill he perfected while writing for "The Twilight Zone".
"Hell House" has enough twists and turns to satisfy, and enough really scary, disgusting stuff to possibly haunt your dreams. I found myself having to think happy thoughts as I closed my eyes at night. I haven't had to do that in a while...not since reading "It" by Stephen King as a kid.
Fellow horror fans, you really ought to do yourselves a favor and read this book (and all of his others, too!). And remember, if anything seems familiar -- like it's been done before -- then it was probably lifted from this!
Highly recommended!
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84 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mount Everest of haunted house novels, September 13, 2003
By 
This review is from: Hell House (Paperback)
"Hell House" author Richard Matheson has always been one of the great supernatural authors of recent history. His novels may not hit the bestseller lists with the frequency of Stephen King or Dean Koontz, but his contributions to the genre are legendary. His resume includes episodes of "The Twilight Zone," "I Am Legend," "Somewhere In Time," "The Shrinking Man" and "Stir of Echoes." For me, "Hell House" stands out as his great contribution to the genre, a storied and historical form of literature traveled by the likes of Shirley Jackson, Bram Stoker, H. G. Wells and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Just when you think all has been covered in the haunted house genre, here comes Matheson with this electric and extraordinarily creepy variation circa 1971.
Wonderfully realized and darkly imaginative, "Hell House" is a simple tale of four unluckly folks hired to crack the legend of Hell House, an isolated mansion in Maine with a history as dark as the Manson Family at Spahn Ranch. Once owned by a Mr. Belasco, the house was an early 20th century hangout of deviant folks who explored carnal avenues to the ultimate point of starvation and death. Two previous expeditions of scientists ended in suicide and disaster, and our modern-day protagonists, needless-to-say, have their work cut out for them.
By novel's end, each character must come to terms with their own human weaknesses and repressions, exposed by the overwhelming evil of Hell House. Matheson's novel is brilliant because it brings a sexual awareness to the genre only flirted with in the past. The house, in many ways, is a prison with windows bricked over, nestled uncomfortably in an isolated, fog-covered valley. Matheson's characters are painfully alone, battling forces psycologically and eventually physically.
What is most memorable about "Hell House," is the set-up and creation of one of the most evil houses in literature history. Matheson's dark imagaination has created a character that is both repulsive and erotic, possessing an energy that slowly works on human frailty, devouring and dominating. Past haunted house novels have enthralled with gothic and mysterious allure. Matheson's novel throws goth out the window, replacing such conventions with an oozing, carnal evil, grotesque in nature, overwhelming and horrifying.
"Hell House" is so good, one wonders how it could possibly be topped. I don't think it ever really will, but recent authors such as King and Anne Rice continue to create epic variations on the haunted house story. But the brilliance of Matheson's novel is its primal simplicity. Horror has rarely seen a tale as creepy as "Hell House."
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Horror Novel I've read so far, May 24, 2003
By 
Amazon Customer (Crawfordsville, In) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hell House (Paperback)
I've been indulging in horror novels for the past year and I've read everything from Anne Rice to Stephen King. This novel was the most frightening novel I've laid my eyes on. While reading it, someone knocked on my door and I screamed so loud that I practically gave my visitor a heart attack.
So would you like this book? Picture this. There is a house where only one person has survived living beneath its roof in over 30 years. Four people return (a physicist, his wife, and 2 mediums); with a reward of 100,000 to see if they can get rid of the "hauntings" at Hell House. The physicists, Lionel, insists that there are no such things as ghost; that paranormal occurrences are a natural part of the world created by electromagnetic forces rather than the dead. The spiritualist, Florence, argues that the phenomenon's are a result of trapped and torments spirits which she has the power to relinquish from their prison. The mystery emerges as the debate of the force behind the phantoms grows. Will any of these four survive to solve the mystery of Hell House and if they do did they really learn the truth or just what the house wanted them to learn?
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars wonderfully terrifying and readable, November 17, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Hell House (Paperback)
I'll agree with Stephen King, at the risk of seeming unorginal, that this is the scariest of all haunted house novels--much more so than "The Haunting of Hill House," "Burnt Offerings," or "The Shining," in my opinion, although it is not as good of a book overall as "Hill House." Matheson doesn't primarily rely on gross-outs for his effects (although some things in the book are rather revolting); mostly he just makes you afraid of what might happen next, by making the characters seem real and down-to-earth, with real fears and problems, and by establishing an extremely fearsome ambience through clear prose and ever more sinister suggestions. The use of semi-science fiction technology to investigate the possibility of an afterlife (explored by Matheson very differently in "what Dreams May Come" and "Bid Time Return") is kind of an interesting and involving element as well, and helps pull you in. Including some provocative sexual stuff kind of gets your attention also, but makes you feel guilty at the same time when things go really wrong--Matheson uses this device effectively, partly for titillation but also to heighten the overall effect. You really feel like you've been through the wringer after you get through this book, but it's somehow an enjoyable, refreshing experience. (Horror fiction aficionados I think will know what I mean, others will think that makes no sense). Be scared, very scared--read it.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good book, February 11, 2007
This review is from: Hell House (Paperback)
First, let me respond to the other reviews. Apparently some people found that the sexual aspect of the book was too much. Well everyone has their opinions but I think some people just failed to understand what the point was. These are not the sick fantesies of the author no more than someone who writes a fictional account of the Nazis is himself a Nazi. If people can't write about such things then what's the point? We'll just have cute bunny rabbits and rainbows.

Seriously, it's a horror novel about a haunted house and what made it haunted? Matheson, both in this book and in I Am Legend looks at the subject in a different way. Rather than have your usual ghosts who were murdered by some random killer haunt a place until justice is done and the ghost can go away.

Is it so hard to believe that someone with alot of money would delve into perverted acts? Just look at the Imperial families of Tiberius, Nero and Caligula and you'll understand. Belasco lived like a modern-day Nero except that he delved into the paranormal...hence the haunting. Yes imagine that, a perverted sexually-driven guy turns out to be evil and his spirit haunts a house.

And yes, the sacrilige is pretty horrible but Belasco was evil, so you'd kind of expect that sort of thing from the guy. It wasn't intended to be some smear against religion at all, only to accent how twisted the villian was.

Now, the book isn't the best book you'll ever read but it's entertaining and will definitely keep you up at night. Some people have mentioned various haunted house movies...they aren't the same, sorry. Even the film adaptation of this book doesn't come close. If you're looking for an easy read and an entertaining horror book, pick this one up and enjoy. If you prefer light stuff that doesn't delve into true horror and darkness...you better stay away.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best haunted house novel ever written..., October 8, 1999
This review is from: Hell House (Paperback)
I had just finished reading another Matheson classic, I Am Legend, when I found out, to my delight, Hell House was being reprinted. Having missed the book the first time around, I wasted no time in ordering it from Amazon.com. Wow! It sure was worth it. The atmosphere in this book was unparelled; the tension unbearable. I read this in 5 hours and when I completed the book, I couldn't tell if I was more sad for it's passing, or afraid from it's content. Hell House is the standard all haunted house books have been and will be compared against.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great haunted house stories, September 4, 2005
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This review is from: Hell House (Paperback)
Richard Matheson is the horror writer that everyone seems to know without ever knowing his name. The Incredible Shrinking Man, Stir of Echoes and What Dreams May Come are all his, along with I Am Legend (made into the movies The Last Man on Earth and The Omega Man) and such wonderful short stories as Nightmare at 20,000 Feet (a classic Twilight Zone episode) and Duel (adapted into an early Spielberg made-for-TV movie). I could go on, but I think my point is clear: his name may not be as big as King or Koontz, but Richard Matheson is one of the biggest horror writers out there.

Hell House (also adapted into a movie, The Legend of Hell House) is yet another reason why Matheson is the tops in his field. A dying rich man wants to know if there is life after death. He recruits three people to provide the answer: Lionel Barrett, a parapsychologist who believes in "supernormal" phenomena but dismisses ghosts as mere delusion. Florence Tanner, an ex-actress and spiritualist medium. Ben Fischer, the only survivor from the last foray into Hell House thirty years earlier.

These three, along with Barrett's wife Edith, are indeed going to Hell House, the nickname for the Belasco house that is considered the Mount Everest of haunted houses. These researchers must go into Hell House for a week to see if they can find proof of ghosts. Besides the normal packed clothes and the like, all four carry other baggage; for example Barrett is partially crippled and impotent and his wife is sexually repressed. The house will soon enough start preying on all these weaknesses.

But what haunts Hell House? Is it the ghost of the viciously evil Belasco, as Florence believes? Or is it merely the psychic residue of the many atrocities that took place within its walls, as Barrett believes? Can the answer be determined before they become the house's latest victims?

Matheson is as good as ever in telling this tale. As with many of his stories, he is adept at making the reader doubt whether some of the events that occur are truly happening or merely imagined by the characters. Admittedly, with the shifting viewpoints of the four, it seems likely that something "supernormal" is going on.

Among haunted house stories, this is one of the best in the bunch. I suggest it is read along with Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, which bears some similarities to Hell House and was probably an influence on Matheson. However, even if you never read Jackson's book, don't skip this one; it is a classic story from a classic writer.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've ever read, September 25, 2000
By 
Jon Stropes (Greenwood, Indiana United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hell House (Paperback)
Hell House is definitely the best haunted house novel I've ever read (followed closely by The Shining which was inspired by Hell House). The text is easy to read, but also rich with detail. I've seen some of the reviews saying the ending was predictable and the occurances are cliche, but you have to remember that when Matheson wrote this, it was pretty original. Matheson was a pioneer of 20th century horror writing, and this is one of his masterpieces.
Yes, the book is disturbingly haunting, not cheap "BOO" thrills. You will look over your shoulder for a while after reading it. Also, check out the film, The Legend of Hell House. The parts that are in it are just like the book right down to the dialogue in most parts. But since it was filmed in the late 70's, they couldn't film certain parts due to content or budget. Still a great film.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic of the Genre, April 6, 2000
This review is from: Hell House (Paperback)
Unfortunately, I had difficulty writing this review; you see, I had seen the film, "The Legend of Hell House" several times before ever reading the book, so I worried that this review would not be as objective. Nevertheless, "Hell House" surpasses the movie in many respects, the most obvious being characterization. We find out much more about our heroes' motivations, and Matheson's skill at turning the ordinary into the malevolent and frightening is in top form. To anyone who has NOT seen the film, please read this book first! I promise you'll come away more frightened if you do. "Hell House" is a seminal work on the genre, and its influence is felt still today.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Haunting after 20 years., February 15, 2011
This review is from: Hell House (Paperback)
Recently I re-visted reading Richard Matheson's novel "Hell House." For those of you who remember the 1971 film starring, Roddy McDowell, Pamela Franklin, Clive Reville and Gayle Hunnicutt, which is titled, "The Legend of Hell house". I was a young boy when I saw the film, and as far as scares go, nothing to hide under the sheet at night about. But many years later, while browsing a used book store, I found this little 300 page gem. For the next couple of days, I had two hour lunches and now I had something to read. Richard Matheson's book far surpasses anything the film attempted to do. It creeps into your imagination and plants itself firmly. The characters are richly layered and the house itself becomes a character. I always find it a welcome surprise, when I find a book that really starts to make me feel like something is very wrong. Like a master painting, the author creates an image that keep the reader unnerved the entire time. The brief chapters and countdown of time makes one feel time is indeed running out.

Twenty years later, I still love this novel. It reveals why Richard Matheson was so prolific at writing so many episodes of "The Twilight Zone" and scripts written for movies made for t.v. Such as "The Night Stalker". I would say will all confidence, Hell House holds up today as much as it did when first published.

Leave the lights on.

Thomas Amo
author of "An Apple For Zoe"
[...]
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Hell House
Hell House by Richard Matheson (Paperback - October 13, 1999)
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