Director: John Hough
Screenplay: Richard Matheson (based upon his novel Hell House)
CAST: Pamela Franklin, Roddy McDowall, Clive Revill, Gayle Hunnicutt, Michael Gough
As a third-grader in Thomasville, Georgia, the TV spots for The Legend Of Hell House (1973) that appeared in the middle of The Wild Wild West every afternoon scared the hell out of me. It was a few years before I actually saw the film—and guess what, it scared the hell out of me, too. (I am now the proud owner of 16mm prints of those spots.)
If a 30-second commercial can make such a strong impression, the movie must have something going for it. And it does. For starters, there’s a script by Richard Matheson, based on his book Hell House, that has enough new ideas in it to make you forget you’ve already seen 463 haunted house movies. There’s a cast dedicated to putting the thing over. And there’s some solid direction to keep everything plenty spooky and briskly paced.
This was one of the few films produced by James H. Nicholson after he left American International Pictures. He’d die of a brian tumor before its release.
The old DVD is fine, but at my house, I want The Legend Of Hell House on Blu-ray, which Shout Factory has slated for release toward the end of the month. If you’re a fan of this kinda thing, this one comes highly recommended.