0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2014
The Legend of Hell House is a so-so British horror movie that attempts to borrow from its 1963 predecessor, The Haunting, but comes up way short. While the premise of both movies is similar (paranormal investigator and a collection of colleagues whom he has not previously met spend a few nights in a haunted house) the focus of each is different.
In The Legend of Hell House things indeed go bump in the night: doors open and slam shut, bed linens are pulled down, scratches on flesh appear form unseen hands, and things fall over (a lot) to the point of being overdone - especially with set lighting that is so abundant as to leave little to the imagination. Less than an hour into the film I found myself waiting for the next predictable thing to occur and, like clockwork, I was not disappointed. I won't give away the ending other than to say that it was disappointingly contrived, and even a fine actor like Roddy MacDowall could not rescue it. Try as the director and screenwriter certainty did, they could not capture the psychological terror that set the foundation for The Haunting.
The Haunting Is a superior choice - a psychological thriller in which the presence of ghosts (artfully implied without overdoing the special effects) makes for suspenseful, heart-pounding and riveting viewing.
If you are bored and want to be entertained, watch The Legend of Hell House. If your preference is to feel the terror of the actors, then dial up The Haunting.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2015
because I've heard the book is very good. Cookie-cutter acting and an especially annoying young woman playing a medium. There must be a lot going on in people's heads that can't be translated to a screenplay, even one written by a novel's author. Typical haunted house sounds, black cats, mist, seances and some very mild eroticism, all of which go nowhere.
3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2010
Ok, so judging by the other reviews, I'm thinking the cheese stands alone here, but I did not care for this film at all. I think perhaps my expectations were just too high, but I was pretty disappointed.
First off, one of my all time favorite movies is the original version of The Haunting (1963), and there were far too many elements copied here. The sets, the sound effects, script, even the scene were the woman is running around the house confused was almost identical to Julie Harris' running through hill house scene. Even the name "Hell House" isn't very imaginative. Seemed too unoriginal for my taste.
Second, other elements of the plot seemed just plain ridiculous. A reverser? Seriously? C'mon. It just got silly at several parts. I'm all for a tongue and cheek horror that doesn't take itself too seriously and essentially knows how to laugh at itself like Murder by Death, but not when it gets silly and tries to pass it off as serious. Maybe I misinterpreted, but it tried too hard. Completely humorless.
There was no scare factor for me. There were just a couple of minor "boo" moments of startle, but nothing truly scary. There were so many imitation Haunting elements, I wish I'd saved my money and just watched that. Way overrated.
3 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2008
Haunted house movies are some of the hardest movies to make in the horror genre. As I have said before many times, the movie does not have to be realistic per se, but it does have to be convincing in its depiction of a haunted house story. While this can be accomplished, it is very difficult to do, and most of these movies do not quite reach the threshold of being a convincing yet effective horror movie. Such is the case with "The Legend of Hell House" starring Roddy McDowell.
"The Legend of Hell House" starts off rather nicely sporting a nice spooky soundtrack/score and with a serious treatment of the subject matter involved. Basically, this movie is about an old man who wants to know if there is life after death. He contacts three individuals, a scientist, a mental medium, and a physical medium who was the only one to survive unscathed from the last human experience in Hell House. Somewhat reminiscent to "The Haunting" in its plot setup, "The Legend of Hell House" has that undeniable 70s feel to it served up with a thick atmosphere that, along with the chilling score, is somewhat effective at producing horror in the audience.
The main problem with "The Legend of Hell House" is that it is inconsistent in its ability to produce horror. This is due in fact to the lack of creativity on the part of the makers of this film. In particular, I just felt that the makers of this film could have done more than they did with this film. To the film's credit, it does not attempt to give us any ridiculous manifestations of the spirits within Hell House, but most of the scenes are rather benign in appearance. Perhaps the most interesting scenes in the movie are the seance and possession scenes where this movie is effective at producing some level of scares, although not to the level that I would like. Still, this was not enough to produce horror on a consistent basis throughout the film.
At times, "The Legend of Hell House" seemed to bog down in supernatural jargon and philosophical discussion between the parties about the existence of paranormal phenomena. This seemed to weigh the film down with all of this technical jargon, and I also came away laughing at how silly some of it sounded. This unintentional silliness and consequent comic relief could not have a worse effect on the viewer for a film like this. This is also reminiscent of "The Haunting" which most people love, but I have criticized for reasons made clear in my review, much to the chagrin of its devoted fans.
Another point of interest is the script itself for this movie. In short, I think that the script could have been more creative and much better in "The Legend of Hell House". In fact, a more detailed and interesting history of the house itself would have been more effective at setting up a good scary movie with the actual fright scenes thereby having more effect. The acting is actually pretty good in this movie, especially Roddy McDowell as Mr. Fischer. The execution of the plot was adequate in whole but largely ritualistic in practice, lacking in creativity, detail and style.
Overall, I just felt like this movie had more potential, but once again, these movies are so hard to execute and still be effectively scary at the same time. Certainly, the best haunted house movies that come to my mind are "The Changeling", "Burnt Offerings" and the original "The Amityville Horror", and all of those movies suffered at least to some extent at keeping the ball rolling so to speak. Of course, while technically not a haunted house story, the best haunting movie ever in my opinion would be Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" which involves the haunting of the Overlook Hotel. "The Shining" serves as a brilliant demonstration of how a haunting/ghost story can be absolutely terrifying. "The Shining" contains other horror elements to it as well that make it a multi-layered horror masterpiece of epic proportions. Please see my review for a detailed analysis of "The Shining".
Depite its shortcomings, "The Legend of Hell House" has some entertainment value, and while it came close to actually being a potentially scary movie, it did not quite get there, at least not on a consistent basis. I would say that parts of this movie are creepy enough, and "The Legend of Hell House" does maintain an eerie atmosphere.
That being said, the overwhelming feeling regarding this film is that of unrealized potential, mostly due to the natural pitfalls associated with making a movie like this. Again, this movie had its moments, but just not consistent enough to be scary. Also, I feel compelled to mention that the ending of this movie left a lot to be desired. In fact, the ending actually comes off as laughable when you think about it in comparison to the rest of the movie. "The Legend of Hell House" tries too hard to tidy things up by the movie's conclusion, and this should never be the goal of a haunted house movie in my opinion. After all, it is the mystery of the unknown and the paranormal that fascinates us to begin with, and any haunted house movie should prey on the imagination of the viewer and work to develop the mystery of the unknown, darkness, the paranormal and evil rather than to try and make a science of it, which is absolutely completely ridiculous of course. From that standpoint, "The Legend of Hell House" is very unconvincing.
I really wanted to like this movie, and I certainly would not call it a complete failure. It starts out well, had some up and down moments in the middle, but ended in a thud for the most part. Notwithstanding its shortcomings, "The Legend of Hell House" has some entertainment value. It has some creepy moments and, at times, demonstrates an ability to produce some degree of horror in the viewer, but it is inconsistent (this is the key word with this film) in its attempt to do this. The creators of this movie should have kept it simple and developed the themes of mystery, the unknown, the macabre and the evil of the paranormal world. It is unfortunate that "The Legend of Hell House" suffers from some unnecessary silliness and drowns itself in its own absurd ideas and conclusions about the paranormal, including the whole idea behind that ridiculous looking energy vacuum machine or whatever it is.
I would recommend "The Legend of Hell House" only to die-hard fans of haunted house and ghost story films, and even fans of those types of movies should know what they are getting into, an ultimately unsatisfactory treatment of the subject matter.
2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2012
Being a huge horror fan I was told I had to watch "Legend of Hell House." I have to say I am a bit underwhelmed by the film, although I hear the book is absolutely horrifying. I may have to check that out.
The story starts out promising, in fact it was a bit chilling. It just fell flat toward the middle and then lost me.
The premise is the oldest one in horror, the haunted house. A group of mediums and a scientist stake out the house in promise of money if they unlock the hauntings.
I never connected with the film. Perhaps it was the pacing or the over the top acting, but I just didn't feel it scary at all. If you want to see a truly scary haunted house story, I'd pick up Insidious. Or if you want vintage horror, go w/ the Amityville Horror (og, of course!).
3 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2001
If you're looking for a really scary movie, don't buy this movie. It takes a great premise and goes nowhere with it. There are a few chills, but they're all dissipated by the poor direction, writing, and cast. Nothing makes sense, and when it does, it just seems stupid. Poor Roddy McDowell is stuck in a role no one could play believably, and that goes for the whole cast, all of whom appear to be sleep walking. Horror fans, don't be fooled. This is not a scary movie.