The Legend of Hell House

Another day, another Netlfix Instant viewing choice. I’ve become a little lazy when it comes to tracking down films I really want to watch, but I partially blame Netflix for finally getting around to adding some good horror for instant viewing. The Legend of Hell House being another example of this trend to get some decent horror flicks out there for us fiends to devour.

Like many haunted house flicks this one starts out with several individuals (supernatural experts) heading off to, in this case, the holy grail of haunted houses. But these folks aren’t there for money; nope they are there to prove that ghosts and life after death is just a fairytale. But since this movie was based on and written by legendary fright master, Richard Matheson, you can count on an interesting adventure awaiting the group. By interesting, I mean lots of things that go bump in the night and have the ability to rape womenfolk.

While this is British horror, it’s not Amicus or Hammer or even Tyburn, which may have something to do with the fact that it seems geared to American audiences. In that respect, it also plays out more like American horror than British. Not a bad or good thing. Just something to note when watching. Even the casting of Roddy Mcdowall in one of the main roles seems to shine light on the fact that this flick was made for American audiences.

The psychological aspects of the film wreak havoc on the actors and make for nervous and tense viewings at times. The spirit force that has control of the house, in very real ways, plays on each actor’s fatal flaws to draw them into its sinister game of death. No one is safe and everyone has the potential to be the next victim. I like it when my horror keeps me on the edge as opposed to knowing exactly who is going to live and die (although an astute person should be able to get it right away) within the first few seconds of?celluloid.

The movie also features one of my favorite lines of recent memory. When asked why the house was so evil McDowall answers, “Drug addiction, alcoholism, sadism, beastiality, mutilation, murder, vampirism, necrophilia, cannibalism, not to mention a gamut of sexual goodies. Shall I go on?” And since this line comes early on in the film it sets up all sorts of possibilities of what is really going on in the house. Not to mention it’s pretty damn funny. All of this just adds to the foreboding atmosphere which includes a creepy church (inside the house) and a sense that something is always about to pounce. There are quite a few real moments of fright in this flick. Not quite at the level of some of the best in the genre (The Haunting), but enough to make a few arm hairs raise.

The ending is a little weak, some say botched, I just say weak. Or weak sauce to be exact. But I still give this one a hearty recommendation within the “Haunted House” sub-genre of horror.

Rating: 7/10

Snore Factor: ZZ

IMDB 1973


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