Opinions on The Legend of Hell House?

Discussion in 'General' started by Anthropophagus, Jul 31, 2014.

  1. Anthropophagus

    Anthropophagus Well-Known Member

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    Sorry I could not find a thread on this exact topic, though I'm almost sure one exists.
    I'm a huge fan of Matheson's book Hell House but have never seen the cinematic adaptation even though I love the haunted house genre.
    I am thinking of giving the upcoming Blu-Ray a blind buy, but must wonder how does a book with strong graphic themes that would merit a strong R rating translate to a 1973 film with a PG rating at the time? Seems the source material must have been substantially diluted and sanitized? Is it worth it? I'm thinking a psychological horror on the level of the original The Haunting (1963)?
     
  2. Shlockjock81

    Shlockjock81 New Member

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    I actually haven't read the book but have seen the movie several times. There are some allusions to the more R-rated aspects of the book through dialogue but what the film lacks in graphic representation, it more than makes up for in atmosphere. The house is very creepy thanks to its classic Hammer-esque design and the sound of wind howling throughout.

    It's a classic case of 'less is more'. I highly recommend you give it a shot!
     
  3. Anthropophagus

    Anthropophagus Well-Known Member

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    Ok, thank you, I will.
    I highly recommend the book too, very chilling and compelling stuff. It's a horror novel that still holds up today and for me goes toe to toe with many contemporary horror authors, outshines many of them.
     
  4. Anaestheus

    Anaestheus Well-Known Member

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    I too am a huge fan of Matheson and Hell House in particular.

    The film is fairly good for the most part and remains pretty faithful to the overall plot of the book. Matheson wrote the script so it still feels very much like the book and the center point of religion v. science still remains intelligently presented.

    Where it fails considerably is in filling in the back story about what a monster Belasco was before he died. Things like the Bastard Bog and the party he throws where he locks all the people in the room until they revert to cannibalism have been completely excised from the film. In some ways the film suffers from this and the end reveal comes off a bit ridiculous as it ends up being all about his height.

    Also, they cut out a lot of Barrett's anxiety about his impotence. So, there is no sauna scene, which I remember as being really powerful in the book.

    All said though, it is a good film. One of my favorites, really. The performances are solid and it still retains Matheson's intelligence and some of his remarkable ability to just get under your skin.
     
  5. Anaestheus

    Anaestheus Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, the book is excellent. As mentioned in my other post, Matheson really has an ability to get under my skin with ideas that are as uncomfortable to have in my head as they are scary. And Hell House really shows off that skill well.

    For fans of the Matheson book I'd also recommend one called "House of Leaves". It deals with a lot of similar themes. It can be a bit of a difficult read as it's written in a very "post-modern" or experimental style. But, if you've enjoyed some of Matheson's more "experimental" stories, it shouldn't be too overwhelming to get into.
     
  6. maybrick

    maybrick Well-Known Member

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    It's my favorite haunted house movie, even more so than The Changeling or The Haunting.
     
  7. shape22

    shape22 Well-Known Member

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    Anthro, despite a lack of graphic nudity the film definitely contains a lot more mature elements than others of its type. Sexual violence and sadism are dealt with head-on. And Pamela Franklin's character suffers through some seriously disturbing events. The film also maintains a very chilly atmosphere and almost entirely eschews the kind of theatrics that make modern flicks like The Conjuring laughable to me. Based on your general preferences I think you'd enjoy it tremendously. It might be my favorite haunted house film. The cast is exceptional, Matheson's screenplay is airtight, and it's never less than arresting. I somewhat agree with Anaestheus about the ending feeling a little rushed. As far as weaknesses go, that's it for me.

    There's always a big risk of feeling disappointed when you see a film based on a favorite literary work. But this is a damn fine movie. I'm looking forward to the Blu-ray.
     
  8. Anthropophagus

    Anthropophagus Well-Known Member

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    Some great recommendations from some long term board members-thanks guys-this one is on my must see list now and will buy the day of release.
     
  9. shape22

    shape22 Well-Known Member

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    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. It sounds like I need to read the book.
     
  10. Anthropophagus

    Anthropophagus Well-Known Member

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    The book is one of the most riveting pieces of horror fiction I've read, could not put it down and will surely read it again.
     
  11. satans-sadists

    satans-sadists Ghost

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    The Haunting (1963) and The Legend of Hell House are my favorite haunted house films. I've been recommended the book before, but still have not read it. This may be one of my next book purchases. Looking forward to the Blu-ray release too!
     
  12. Erick H.

    Erick H. Well-Known Member

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    An old favorite of mine, extremely well made. Excellent cinematography and an eerie early electronic score. Great cast too. Very atmospheric .
     
  13. Katatonia

    Katatonia Hellbound Heart

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    I totally agree, it's among my favorites. I can't wait for the Blu-ray to come out!

    I read Matheson's book years ago, which is also excellent.
     
  14. Kim Bruun

    Kim Bruun Resident Scream Queen

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    I remember being on the fence about TLoHH, but I am definitely revisiting it on blu. The two are often mentioned in the same breath, but unlike The Haunting, it is not ambiguous regarding the supernatural aspect. TLoHH has a fully fleshed out mythology, describing for instance that there are both mental and physical mediums. The climax is a wee bit melodramatic.
     
  15. shape22

    shape22 Well-Known Member

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    No doubt about this. But who can ride that kind of wave better than Roddy McDowall? Love that guy.
     
  16. Anthropophagus

    Anthropophagus Well-Known Member

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    I've watched it twice now and I loved it. Thanks for the recommendations to all.
    It's a pretty nice Blu-Ray as well, that John Hough interview was cool. Interesting that he is plotting a sequel at this juncture?
    However, if you loved the film you need to read Matheson's book, the film left out many key points that were absolutely riveting and chilling in literary form.
    I would put that book in my top 3 horror must reads for sure.
     
  17. shape22

    shape22 Well-Known Member

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    I picked up the book on your recommendation and am enjoying it very much. Glad you liked the film. I just ordered the Blu and am anxiously awaiting its arrival.
     
  18. Anthropophagus

    Anthropophagus Well-Known Member

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    Cool, I got a great film to add to the collection and you got a good book. Works out. Thanks again.
     
  19. shape22

    shape22 Well-Known Member

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    Thank you as well!
     
  20. Anthropophagus

    Anthropophagus Well-Known Member

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    It just dawned on me how The Evil with Richard Crenna is pretty much a complete rip-off of this film. It never occurred to me while reading the book, but the film sort of drove home from the opening credits to the climax how influential Legend of..was on The Evil. BTW: I've always loved The Evil too.
     

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