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The Legend of Hell House

Fun if decidedly unoriginal melding of The Haunting and The Stone Tape, with scientific investigator Clive ‘Potsworth and Co.’ Revill leading a team including Roddy MacDowell, Gayle ‘Martian Chronicles’ Hunnicutt and Pamela ‘Food of the Gods’ Franklin in a 100,000 pound contest to stay a night at Ronald ‘Old Men at the Zoo’ Culver’s haunted house, “the Mount Everest of haunted houses”, no less. Seances, smashing chairs, gore and ectoplasm are the order of the night, needless to say, and there’s a sub-Nigel Kneale sci-fi ‘explanation’ of the haunting that’s as half-arsed as it is poorly realised, but it’s all top fun from horror’s bottom drawer as it were, and you get drug addiction, alcoholism, sadism, bestiality, mutilation, murder, vampirism, necrophilia, cannibalism, not to mention a gamut of sexual goodies, plus Peter Bowles and Michael Gough into the bargain.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Lee James Turnock

    September 1, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Channel Four used to show a ropey, bleached, faded print of this that looked for all the world like a public information film, or a slightly more expensive Look and Read instalment. I think that actually helped the atmosphere. I was disappointed when I bought the DVD and it looked all glossy and professional.

    • Glenn A

      September 16, 2017 at 1:24 pm

      I’m sure this film was more a staple of regional ITV horror slots after News At Ten. Good film with music by the person who composed the Doctor Who theme. Also not to be forgotten, Pamela Franklin being attacked by a stuffed cat.

  2. THX 1139

    September 17, 2017 at 12:42 am

    The book is a lot more violent, like disturbing Pink Power Ranger slash fiction violent. That was 70s horror paperbacks for you.

  3. Glenn Aylett

    November 5, 2020 at 8:07 pm

    I have the DVD and it’s one of those horrors where the suspense takes a bigger role than blood letting. OK Hell House is a bit cheap by today’s standards, but it’s still worth a look for the excellent cast and sense of menace.

  4. Richardpd

    November 5, 2020 at 11:34 pm

    Sometimes a poor version of a film can give it a totally different feel.

    I’ve heard about someone who had a French tape of The Exorcist, which would play in black & white due it being a SECAM format VHS. This & the dodgy French dub made it seem like an art film.

    A few years ago I took my Blu-Ray of ET round to my old girlfriend’s house for an 80s film night.

    On her large HD TV it mostly looked great, but it was obvious on the flying bike scenes that the elements had been merged together. The same TV made Against All Odds look all plasticity.

  5. Sidney Balmoral James

    November 6, 2020 at 7:52 am

    Doctor Terror’s House of Horrors is another classic film which used to be shown in an incredibly duff copy, that looked like it had been filmed on a cine camera. The version shown on TV nowadays is as fresh as paint. The glossiness of Alan Freeman’s hair really comes across.

  6. Glenn Aylett

    November 6, 2020 at 11:09 am

    The mostly unseen villain, Emeric Berlasco, was inspired by Aleister Crowley and his 1920s cult, in the same way Crowley inspired Dr Karswell in Night of the Demon, a classic British horror.

  7. George White

    November 6, 2020 at 5:33 pm

    Recently learnt that Clive Revill did an episode of Skiboy. Thus added this info to the imdb.

    The music is by Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson post-Radiophonic Workshop project Electrophon, with uncredited but vital support from Dudley Simpson. Some of the music is very like his work on Doctor Who. Lots of marimba.

    • Glenn Aylett

      November 7, 2020 at 4:09 pm

      The music on Hell House adds to the sense of menace and the marimba is well used. I quite like the way they add groans from the dead to the music in places. Also the mansion being shrouded in mist and the sinister black cat wandering around outside give the film its sinister edge. ( I don’t think the sun shines once in the outdoor shots as the four main characters arrive at the mansion in thick mist).

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