The Legend of Hell House (1973)

DailyView: Day 327, Movie 469

Based on a 1971 novel, Hell House by Richard Matheson (who was the screenwriter on this as well), The Legend of Hell House became one of the more iconic films of the “haunted house” subgenre of horror films. Directed by British director John Hough, the film featured a cast including Pamela Franklin, Roddy McDowell, Clive Revill and Gayle Hunnicutt.

A group of investigators including psychic mediums were sent into the Belasco House, a location where a group of investigators had been killed 20 years before. The only survivor of that group was Benjamin Franklin “Ben” Fischer (Roddy McDowell), who accompanied physicist Dr. Lionel Barrett (Clive Revill), his wife Ann (Gayle Hunnicutt) and mental medium Florence Tanner (Pamela Franklin) back into the Belasco House in an attempt to finally put the spirits inside to rest.

I had a little difficulty getting into the film at first, but after awhile, I was engaged and was enjoying myself. The main reason was the exceptional Roddy McDowell. McDowell is an iconic horror movie star, fitting right into this type of film beautifully. Roddy’s work elevated those around him and made me interested in the story of the film.

This was 1973, so some of the special effects were less than what we are used to in 2022. That is understandable, but the whole cat stuff was really weak and looked terrible. The rest of the film looked considerably better.

There are some well done creepy moments in the movie and the story is well done. It was simple enough without being too easy. It is well developed and the performances work within the story very well. The Legend of Hell House is one of the better haunted house films you will find.

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