The Legend of Hell House 1973

The Legend of Hell House

Critics Consensus

The Legend of Hell House makes up for its disappointing lack of outright scares with a top notch cast and a suitably macabre atmosphere.

62%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 21

56%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,214

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Movie Info

Scientist Lionel Barrett (Clive Revill) and his wife, Ann (Gayle Hunnicutt), lead a team into the infamous Belasco House, supposedly haunted by the victims of its late owner, a notorious serial killer. Though the rational Barrett does not believe in ghosts, the other members of his group do, include devout spiritualist Florence Tanner (Pamela Franklin) and psychic medium Benjamin Fischer (Roddy McDowall), who has been in Belasco House before and seen what horrors can befall those who enter it.

Cast & Crew

Critic Reviews for The Legend of Hell House

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (13) | Rotten (8)

  • Clive Revill, the physicist, who attempts to clear the house of its evil, Pamela Franklin, the mental medium and Roddy McDowall the survivor of the previous incursion, are all first-rate.

    March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Richard Matheson's disappointing adaptation of his own rather disappointing novel.

    February 9, 2006 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • If John Hough, the director, and his small, willing cast maintain mild tension during their harried visit to this haunted 'hell house,' the few chills they provide are of little help.

    May 9, 2005 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • This journey into a terrifying haunted house is one of metaphysics, exploring how disbelief, in many forms, can work against oneself.

    May 7, 2019 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • The performances and script of this movie are all top notch, but what really makes this movie one of my favorites in the subgenre is its direction by Hough.

    September 27, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Despite the fact that it was released over 40 years ago, John Hough's The Legend of Hell House still remains one of the greatest and most effective haunted house films ever committed to celluloid.

    January 7, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Legend of Hell House

  • Oct 15, 2014
    An interesting haunted house movie that invests in a gloomy atmosphere like a psychological horror film and benefits greatly from a chilling art direction and cinematography, although it isn't exactly scary nor memorable as a narrative.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 21, 2013
    Very atmospheric haunted house flick that just doesn't deliver like it promised. Proof of that is the lackluster ending and subpar acting.
    Francisco G Super Reviewer
  • Oct 02, 2012
    ** out of **** I am starting to get the feeling that Richard Matheson's novels and short stories don't make very good movies most of the time. The material either gets overly extended or feels too restrained, with few cinematic storytellers being able to distinguish a difference between the two. Matheson adapted his own material for "The Legend of Hell House", which should be an indicator that the film is better than most adaptations just for that, although I'm not too sure. Apparently it's faithful to the novel (titled "Hell House") in the sense that it is - if you share a similar viewpoint to mine - uneven, mostly unimpressive, and massively disappointing. Sadly, it just can't hold a candle to the other classics of its kind on a dark, stormy night. However, it's not an excess of comparisons that makes the film as mediocre as it is. It's the fact that it's just boring and unimaginatively staged for all its visual panache. It's about a group of people - Lionel Barrett (Clive Revill), his wife Ann (Gayle Hunnicut), and the duel psychic mediums Florence Tanner (Pamela Franklin) and Ben Fischer (Roddy McDowell - who go to investigate the Belasco House; supposedly the Mount Everest of haunted houses. Fischer is a survivor of a previous investigation, as no one else has made it out alive prior to him, and is convinced that the estate itself is very much alive and will swallow them whole in both body and soul, one by one, piece by piece. Barrett, a skeptic by nature, does not at first believe that Fischer's encounters were of a paranormal variety. With him he brings a machine that he has created which will drive out the bad spirits, if there are any. And believe me, there most certainly are; and they subject each of the houseguests to physical and psychological tortures that range from the erotic to the surreal to the animalistic (there's a mean black cat that attacks Florence and in turn gets thrown around the bedroom a few times; it's quite the sight to see). It seems that Fischer was right; and now history will repeat itself. They'll have to keep onto their limbs and heads in order to successfully survive this hellish night. While I'm normally a sucker for these kinds of movies, "The Legend of Hell House" probably lost me after the thirty minute mark. Never mind that I didn't really care about its characters too much; its style just gets really repetitive really fast. Its intentions don't extend much further than throwing weird scene after weird scene at the audience; such a thing that admittedly gets the desired reaction but lacks a proper identity. Sometimes, decent but disappointing horror films such as this are the worst kind in the sense that some scenes are so good, but on a whole you find yourself drifting off from the world that the movie is trying so hard to create. I look at this movie and just don't see enough ambition to fill an hour and thirty five minutes. I was a fan of the look of the film. It's a pretty nice-looking production that makes great - and I mean great - use of colorful lighting as well as distorting camera angles/effects. Sometimes, it's very psychologically demeaning and almost kind of creepy. But then it goes back to being slow, poorly-paced drivel; and you begin to forget why you're still in this house with these uninteresting people. You're better off watching something like "House on Haunted Hill" or "The Haunting", because both of them are at least directed with a sense of ambition, a concept that John Hough can't quite grasp. He's got everything assembled and there, as proven by the images that he puts on screen, but just doesn't know how to make anything genuinely interesting or tense with them. Horror movies are more than just pretty visuals. "The Legend of Hell House" almost succeeds in tricking us into thinking that it understands this, but alas, not quite.
    Ryan M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 20, 2011
    Atmospheric chiller about a group of paranormal investigators who seek to find out the truth behind the hauntings of a mansion in rural England. Solid haunted house movie, creepy and with an ever-present sinister atmosphere. The major downside was that there were no scares, no jumpy moments and I was never having to watch it through my fingers in fear. It's a worthwhile watch though.
    Lee ? Super Reviewer

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