The Legend of Hell House (1973) [REVIEW]


After reading the title, I am sure this movie sounds familiar, but you probably haven’t seen it. Don’t confuse this movie with Hell House, the documentary about the creation of a haunted house by a conservative catholic group. Don’t confuse it with The House on Haunted Hill, starring either Vincent Price or Geoffrey Rush, depending on how old you are. Don’t even confuse it with The Haunting, starring Liam Neeson and Catherine Zeta-Jones-Douglass-Hotness, where at one point Owen Wilson‘s head falls off. If the plot of this film sounds familiar, you probably have seen it done before, so I won’t blame you for that. Keep in mind that this film did it 40 years ago, and they pull it off just as successfully as any other films have done.

“Your direction? Uhhh…look somewhere and be either upset, confused, or shocked.”

There is an opening disclaimer letting the viewer know that despite this film not being a true story, that everything depicted is based on actual recorded events. With that out of the way, you discover that there is to be an investigation of the “Mt. Everest of haunted houses” by a physicist and his wife, accompanied by two mediums. The physicist believes everything can be attributed to electromagnetic activity, and the mediums are hoping to find a way to let the souls trapped in the house to finally find peace. Very early on, there are incidents involving possession, ectoplasm, as well as objects being thrown around rooms by unseen forces. Despite this, the team pushes on in hopes of getting to the source of what’s going on. These incidents escalate to the point of one of the mediums being killed, as well as the physicist being killed, while he attempts to use a machine to negate the electromagnetic forces. Eventually there is a confrontation between the remaining medium and the exorcist’s wife that reveals what’s going on and why.

 

I think this house might be haunted by thousands of empty bottles of Lubriderm.

I already mentioned the fact that the story of people going to a supposedly haunted location in an attempt get to the bottom of it has been done countless times before. Keeping in mind the fact that this movie was made almost 40 years ago lets you know that it was ahead of it’s time. They were using terms, concepts, and images that you could see being talked about on any show on the Discovery Channel or SyFy. This film didn’t rely on gore or cheap scares, it was more of just a creepy ambiance where all the characters know that creepy stuff is going on, they just don’t know why. The fact that all the characters accepted that all this stuff was going on, but perservered through all of it made it scarier. One device that was used to frightening effect was voice manipulation, whether it be disembodied voices being heard throughout the house or during any of the possessions, it freaked me out a little. If you stumble on this movie on cable or find the DVD for cheap, you might as well pick it up, because after 40 years, the story is just as relevant as anything that could be made today. Not to mention that the physicist’s wife, played by Gayle Hunnicutt, was a babe.

 

Wolfman Moon Scale



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