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Badmovies.org Forum  |  Movies  |  Good Movies  |  The Legend of Hell House (1973) « previous next »
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Author Topic: The Legend of Hell House (1973)  (Read 571 times)
Neville
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« on: September 25, 2012, 12:33:57 PM »



Plot: Hired by a dying businessman, four people set out to study the Belasco mansion, considered the most dangerous haunted house in the world. They are a physicist, his wife and two mediums, one of them the only survivor of a previous expedition. Based on a novel by Richard Matheson.

Comments: Ah, the haunted house sub-genre... there are quite a number of movies in it, but I can't think of any memorable or definitive one. Maybe that's why "Hell House" is more or less considered the best of the lot. Now, I don't want to attack the film gratuitously -after all, I'm posting this on the "Good movies" phorum-, but I have many problems with it. Generally speaking, "Hell house" is a creepy, well made little film, but the script by Richard Matheson -and his novel, which shares the same problems- is just smoke and mirrors.

My main issue with the film is that it seems to promise a scientific approach to the "haunted house" cliché. After all, the main character is a physicist, and there's a lot of dialogue about his theories and the inner workings of a machine of his invention he plans to use to "de-haunt" the mansion. However, when the supernatural phenomena start to appear, they seem practically to occur at random, and he barely investigates them. The whole thing then seems to take a different path, only to deliver an explanation of sorts at the very end, one that nobody could have guessed, although it is true that there are clues here and there. But come on, how are we suppossed to conect the final explanation with stuff like a character being attacked by a black cat, or the increased sexual drive of others? It makes zero sense.

On the other hand, as I said, there are many things to like about "Hell house": it's never boring, the acting all around is competent -although I kept asking myself if Roddy McDowall was wearing a bad wig or not- and, specially, British director John Hough managed to infuse it with a great deal of atmosphere. Part of it is due to the electronic score and the inmaculate set design, true, but now and then Hough manages to create a pervasive sense of unease only through his eccentric directing choices. For instance, he makes a very creative use of unusual techniques like low angles or deformant lenses, and he often frames faces in extreme close ups while keeping the background out of focus, which makes a very effective way of letting us now of the malignant influence of the house on its inhabitants.
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The Burgomaster
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« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2012, 01:21:38 PM »

I saw this at the drive-in during it's original theatrical run and enjoyed it.  It was a double feature with the even better movie, THE OTHER.  I now have both of them on DVD.  As for Matheson's novel, HELL HOUSE, I thought it was better than the movie and was surprised that the movie left out some of the best elements of the book.

 
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alandhopewell
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« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2012, 01:29:59 PM »



Plot: Hired by a dying businessman, four people set out to study the Belasco mansion, considered the most dangerous haunted house in the world. They are a physicist, his wife and two mediums, one of them the only survivor of a previous expedition. Based on a novel by Richard Matheson.

Comments: Ah, the haunted house sub-genre... there are quite a number of movies in it, but I can't think of any memorable or definitive one. Maybe that's why "Hell House" is more or less considered the best of the lot. Now, I don't want to attack the film gratuitously -after all, I'm posting this on the "Good movies" phorum-, but I have many problems with it. Generally speaking, "Hell house" is a creepy, well made little film, but the script by Richard Matheson -and his novel, which shares the same problems- is just smoke and mirrors.

My main issue with the film is that it seems to promise a scientific approach to the "haunted house" cliché. After all, the main character is a physicist, and there's a lot of dialogue about his theories and the inner workings of a machine of his invention he plans to use to "de-haunt" the mansion. However, when the supernatural phenomena start to appear, they seem practically to occur at random, and he barely investigates them. The whole thing then seems to take a different path, only to deliver an explanation of sorts at the very end, one that nobody could have guessed, although it is true that there are clues here and there. But come on, how are we suppossed to conect the final explanation with stuff like a character being attacked by a black cat, or the increased sexual drive of others? It makes zero sense.

On the other hand, as I said, there are many things to like about "Hell house": it's never boring, the acting all around is competent -although I kept asking myself if Roddy McDowall was wearing a bad wig or not- and, specially, British director John Hough managed to infuse it with a great deal of atmosphere. Part of it is due to the electronic score and the inmaculate set design, true, but now and then Hough manages to create a pervasive sense of unease only through his eccentric directing choices. For instance, he makes a very creative use of unusual techniques like low angles or deformant lenses, and he often frames faces in extreme close ups while keeping the background out of focus, which makes a very effective way of letting us now of the malignant influence of the house on its inhabitants.


     This was a very good film, surpassed however by the novel, and by its predecessor, THE HAUNTING (1963).

     
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« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2012, 04:33:46 PM »

Undoubtably one of the best haunted house movies. You're right alan to place The Haunting (1963) on top though. Actually really good haunted house movies seem rather rare although The Innocents seems to have haunted grounds and there seems to be an haunted carnival in Carnival of Souls...these movies running from the early 60s starting with Psycho up to 1973's Hell House seem to be the cream of the crop when it comes to films with spooky houses/environments.
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« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2012, 03:33:14 AM »

While The LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE is an excellent movie-I defintitly  agree with Alan here- the HAUNTING is the yardstick.
Though the UNINVITED (1944) is an excellent film as well!

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alandhopewell
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« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2012, 12:23:12 PM »

While The LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE is an excellent movie-I defintitly  agree with Alan here- the HAUNTING is the yardstick.
Though the UNINVITED (1944) is an excellent film as well!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siqSUaML-Ig




     As is this, though rarely seen....INVISIBLE CREATURE, aka HOUSE ON MARSH ROAD (1960)

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« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2012, 06:59:26 PM »

This is on cable like every day but I never watch it.
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Allhallowsday
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« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2012, 07:31:46 PM »

...
Comments: Ah, the haunted house sub-genre... there are quite a number of movies in it, but I can't think of any memorable or definitive one. Maybe that's why "Hell House" is more or less considered the best of the lot...
Best of the lot?  Who considers it "the best"?   Question  I think it sucks.  Plus, there's THE HAUNTING which RICHARD MATHESON's novel and screenplay owe a lot to.  Plus, there's THE UNINVITED... there's lots of better "Haunted House" genre flicks. 

Oh!  I see others have beat me to the punch.  Except, I think THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE is lame.  I just watched it a few months ago on TCM. 
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