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63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very scary!
"The Legend of Hell House" freaked me out as a child. I could barely go to sleep after the first time I saw it on TV. Yet thereafter, everytime it came on, despite the fact that I was scared to death of this movie, I always tried to watch it (under a blanket cover, of course). It is probably one of the most frightening movies, haunted house or not, ever...
Published on July 13, 2000 by Ed N

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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Low-key horror has mood to spare
THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE

(UK - 1973)

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Theatrical soundtrack: Mono

Odd, effective little shocker. Scripted by Richard Matheson from his novel 'Hell House', and produced at a time when Hammer's influence on the horror genre was being challenged by the new breed of horror emerging from the US and mainland Europe...
Published on October 9, 2001 by Libretio


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63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very scary!, July 13, 2000
By 
Ed N "Ed" (Kensington, Maryland USA) - See all my reviews
"The Legend of Hell House" freaked me out as a child. I could barely go to sleep after the first time I saw it on TV. Yet thereafter, everytime it came on, despite the fact that I was scared to death of this movie, I always tried to watch it (under a blanket cover, of course). It is probably one of the most frightening movies, haunted house or not, ever made. It relies on the bare minimal of special effects but rather gets its chills from the eerie cinematography and sound and the uniformly solid performances from the actors. The film has a deadly serious tone to it, which makes it all the more scary, unlike such modern junk like the new "Haunting" or the "Scream" series. In fact, I would consider this film the equal of the original "Haunting" and "The Changeling" in terms of haunted house movies.
The plot is this: a small group of people is hired by an eccentric millionaire to determine if there is indeed life after death. The millionaire assigns them to investigate a notoriously haunted house in order to provide him with an answer within the week. The group consists of a scientist and his wife and two mediums; one guess whether they are all alive by the end of the film. By the way, this is not a slasher movie at all. It is almost a psychological film, which is probably why it may give you nightmares after you see it. But definitely see it, especially if you are in the mood for an honest scare.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars On the Short List of Best Haunted House Movies!, February 15, 2000
By 
S. H. Towsley (Fort Wayne, IN & Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I'm very gratified, having read the other reviews of this film on Amazon.com, to see THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE getting its due. This is truly one of the best haunted house movies there is. Everyone is "right on" to place this with Robert Wise's THE HAUNTING and Clayton's THE INNOCENTS. Oddly, THE UNINVITED now tends to seem a bit dated while these other three films hold their impact well. For the modern jaded youth, HELL HOUSE has the added "advantage" of being a color film, though in style both INNOCENTS and HAUNTING are visually superior. HELL HOUSE may suffer by virtue of its budget, but not in much else. Richard Matheson's story (the novel IS very good) is mysterious and fascinating and perhaps more fully formed in some ways than that of THE HAUNTING.
The premises of HELL HOUSE and THE HAUNTING are similar enough to make one wonder about cross-pollenation, but the truth is that the stories and their handling are quite different. All 3 films deal in some form with repressed sexuality. Pamela Franklin was a child actor when she (coincidentally) turned in her exceptional performance in THE INNOCENTS. Now as a young woman medium in HELL HOUSE it is her sexuality which plays a key role in the unravelling of the Belasco mystery.

HELL HOUSE has flaws pertaining mainly to a tinge of melodrama in its execution, but overall it sits very comfortably in company with THE HAUNTING (NOT the new version) and THE INNOCENTS, and if these reviews serve any purpose I assume that the overwhelming recommendation of this film will encourage new viewers to see this movie and enjoy what it has to offer.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly frightening movie. Puts most modern horror to shame., November 5, 2006
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This review is from: The Legend of Hell House (DVD)
One of those rare horror flicks that will actually scare the pants off you. I read the book years ago, and it somehow escaped me that this movie even existed. I bought it immediately when I saw that Matheson himself wrote the screenplay, and let me tell you, it all works. The actors really stepped up to the plate on this one and delivered a real bone-chilling performance. I find this doubly impressive given the low budget and economical use of special effects. bravo.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Memorable haunted house thriller, December 9, 2005
This review is from: The Legend of Hell House (DVD)
Any haunted house thriller owes a huge debt to Shirley Jackson's THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE and Robert Wise's different but equally evocative film "The Haunting". "The Legend of Hell House" based on Richard Matheson's bestselling novel (and a homage to Jackson)is turned into a no nonsense thriller by director John Hough. Featuring distorted camera angles, strong performances and (thankfully)a complete absence of CGI effects, "House" is still highly atmospheric and effective 32 years later. Those that are looking for gore and a lack of subtly and intelligence are instructed to purchase/rent the latest version of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" instead.

Dr. Lionel Barrett (Clive Revill)a physicist who has been studying the paranormal is given a plum assignment; prove to the new owner of the Belasco House that there is life after death by documenting the supernatural occurances there within a week and receive 100,000 pounds. He'll also get the funds to complete his new device designed to measure psychic activity scientifically prior to embarking on his mission to "Hell House". Barrett is saddled with Benjamin Fischer (Roddy McDowall) a psychic who was the only survivor of the last attempt to study Hell House and Florence Tanner a young medium. Ann (Gayle Hunnicutt)Lionel's wife insists on accompanying him on this difficult and dangerous investigation. What they discover defies explanation and what they discover about the house and Belasco himself is frightening and surprising.

Hough's stylish direction makes up for the slim budget of the film and the strong performances by veterans of British screen and stage add a grim sense of reality to the events. Interestingly, Pamela Franklin who plays Tanner also appears in another well regarded suspense thriller about ghosts--she plays the little girl in "The Innocents". The screenplay by Matheson is lean and effective adding to the eerie direction of Hough and the believable performances.

The transfer here is solid if unremarkable. I had hoped that Fox might spent a bit more on this cult classic to spiff it up for DVD release. There's some minor dirt and debris but the film itself looks petty good overall. There's nothing remarkable about the extras however--we get the film's original trailer as is typical of Fox for releases like this trailers for other Fox thrillers. It's that Hough wasn't asked to do a commentary track as he did a terrific one for his B-movie classic "Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry" (where, by the way, McDowall makes a cameo). If licensed out to Anchor Bay I'm sure we would have gotten a featurette or interviews but Fox doesn't do anything special for fans of the film here.

Still, I'm happy that this minor classic is available on DVD even if it isn't given quite the respect it deserves by Fox. Although the last third of the film doesn't quite hold up as well as the first 2/3rds, this is still a terrific movie that suspense thriller fans (I'd say horror movie but that implies a different audience today) will enjoy.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A neglected gem for horror fans to rediscover, April 6, 2004
By 
P. I. Johnson (Cape Town, South Africa) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Legend of Hell House (DVD)
Unfairly neglected by audiences in the wake of that same year's cultural juggernaut that was The Exorcist, The Legend of Hell House has since recovered a deserved place as one of the best entries in horror's "haunted house" sub-genre. Squarely in the tradition of The Haunting (which first proposed a pseudo-anthropological approach to the supernatural) scientist Clive Revill leads an investigation team into the dreaded Belasco mansion to establish whether life after death really exists or not. As things start to go bump in the night, the group slowly falls apart under the weight of its own tensions before finally uncovering the dreaded evil inside the heart of "Hell House". An effective old school horror entry at a time when horror was just about to pursue interesting new detours into violence, depravity and extremity courtesy of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist and Black Christmas (the unacknowledged progenitor of Halloween). Featuring an effectively pompous turn by Revill as the cocksure project leader and a characteristically eccentric one by Roddy McDowell. Based on the novel by horror legend Richard Matheson.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Mount Everest of Haunted Houses, August 4, 2006
This review is from: The Legend of Hell House (DVD)
The Legend of Hell House remains one of the most effective, shocking and ghostly mysteries put to film.

Released in 1973, the same year as the blockbuster chiller "The Exorcist", the movie unfortunately fell by the way side and got lost in the rush of movie goers eager to witness demons possess a young Linda Blair. While the film is by no means a classic like Exorcist, it's still undeniably powerful and a must see for ghost loving fans and fans of scary movies in general. In the shadow of other spooky classics like The Shining or The Haunting, it's an often forgotten gem.

The modest budget forced the director John Hough to centralize all the action within the house and not delve into any of the complex back story found in the Richard Matheson novel. Matheson's book paints an awesomely evil and bone chilling history of Belasco House and it's owner, Emeric Belasco's depraved indulgences. By plopping the modern characters into the action, you lose much of the sense of horror of what the house was scene to years ago, but some of the dialogue of Matheson's screenplay, especially spoken by the always wonderful Roddy McDowal does make-up for some of the lack of it.

All of the other actors rise to the challenge of the material, while Pamela Franklin is a standout. Her psychic adept persona whose devotion to her Christian faith add an element of spirituality that is often, ironically, missing in most stories about glimpses into the world beyond the one we know and live, gives weight and importance to a role that may have come across as arrogant or holier than thou. Director Hough makes excellent use of music and sound effects to achieve a good number of frights and accentuate the overall menace of the house. And although the explicit nature of Matheson's descriptions of the quite adult desires in the book are never displayed outright, there is enough sharp dialogue and acting to get a sense of the bacchanalia the mansion played host to in years past. This is another mature and disquieting element not often seen in other ghost stories.

This disc contains only a trailer in way of extras and that's a true shame. Chillers in general are paid little respect by mainstream cinema and for a movie of this level to have nothing supplemental is something of a mistake the owners of the film must correct.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very creepy!, June 27, 2001
This review is from: The Legend of Hell House (DVD)
this is a classic ghost story film. it's english-from the 70's the basic plot is.....hell house is a large old country house in the english countryside. it once belonged to an insane perverted millionaire named belasco. it's reputed to be haunted and last time an expedition entered only one person walked out alive. now a new group of people-a scientist,his wife and 2 mediums,one of which was the sole survivor of the previous expedition must enter the house and try to discover the root of the evil. this film doesn't give much in the way of gore but instead manages to conjure up an incredibly creepy atmosphere with a genuine sense of dread due to the excellent direction and acting. watch this in the dark and it will scare you witless-very much in the same way the woman in black and the original version of the haunting did. buy it now and treat yourself to a proper horror film!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best horror movies of all time, July 29, 1999
By A Customer
There are no axe murders in this movie... There isnt $10 million worth of special effects... You never really see the ghost... However Hell House is much more sophisticated and frightening than any of those types of movies. You never see the evil... But you see its effects... This is brilliant because isn't whatever youre own imagination creates far more scary than anything you can see?
This movie is well acted (Roddy MacDowell and Pamila Franklin are perfect in this movie as the mediums...) very suspensfull and unpredictable to say the least.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Kind Of Horror, September 29, 2001
By 
Jason (Bradenton, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Legend of Hell House (DVD)
If you love movies like The Haunting(original), The Changeling, or The Innocents; then you'll love this movie. When I first saw it, I thought it was a continuation of the original Haunting. I was so glad to see that it came out on DVD. I've been looking for a copy of it for some time (and it's even hard to find to rent!). This movie is definitely one of the great Haunted House style movies. This movie gives my wife chills and we both need to watch something a little "fluffy" to get it out of our minds before bed. I can't wait till the Changeling and the original Haunting comes out on DVD. This is a must have movie in the collection of those that like movies in this vain. For me it's not so much the horror and scare (even though that's a thrill) it's the origins of why these things happen that intrigues me. Finding out why the hauntings go on, or what happened in the past to cause this.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Low-key horror has mood to spare, October 9, 2001
This review is from: The Legend of Hell House (DVD)
THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE

(UK - 1973)

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Theatrical soundtrack: Mono

Odd, effective little shocker. Scripted by Richard Matheson from his novel 'Hell House', and produced at a time when Hammer's influence on the horror genre was being challenged by the new breed of horror emerging from the US and mainland Europe (spearheaded, of course, by THE EXORCIST [1973] and THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE [1974]), John Hough's film employs the familiar trappings of a Gothic thriller - it's set mostly in a fog-shrouded country mansion, the "Mt. Everest of haunted houses" - but it adopts a very modern, scientific approach to its subject. Four people - two psychics (Pamela Franklin, Roddy McDowall), a scientist (Clive Revill) and his wife (Gayle Hunnicutt) - are hired by a wealthy invalid (Roland Culver) to spend time in the legendary Belasco Mansion looking for evidence of life after death, and their subsequent investigation sets them at odds with one another, while the house itself threatens to destroy them with increasingly violent supernatural manifestations.

Long a staple of late night TV, where it frightened generations of kids who refused to sleep with the lights off for days afterward (!), the film's potency has been somewhat diluted by the passage of time. Individual scenes are terrific: The first 'sitting', in which Franklin (deliberately cast as a nod to her appearance in THE INNOCENTS [1961]) becomes possessed by a former occupant of the house; the all-out supernatural assault on Revill as he sits at the dining-room table; and the unforgettable moment when Franklin pulls the covers from a writhing figure on her bed to reveal... well, I'll leave first time viewers to find out for themselves, and to wonder (as we've all done): "How'd they DO that?!!"

But the film is ultimately restricted by its own good intentions: The investigation and the various ghostly phenomena are all scrupulously authentic in scientific terms, but the moody, low-key approach allows few opportunities for crowd-pleasing set-pieces. As such, there's no real plot, just a succession of incidents which seem to propel the narrative forward by accident rather than design, and the climactic pay-off is very feeble indeed. However, these same weaknesses may be perceived as strengths by those who appreciate subtlety over bombast, and while THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE may not scale the heights of genuine horror, it captures a mood which gets under your skin and refuses to budge for the duration. For all my reservations, I'd recommend it to anyone, even moreso than its overrated forerunners, THE HAUNTING (1963) and the aforementioned THE INNOCENTS.
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The Legend of Hell House
The Legend of Hell House by John Hough (DVD - 2001)
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