The Legend of Hell House (1973)

Under-rated, unduly over-shadowed, and quite rightly the most notoriously scary and deadly place (billed by American author, Richard Matheson, as “The Mt. Everest of all Haunted Houses” in his novel on which this British interpretation is based). The Author, in his attempt to write the be-all and get-all of all Gothic adventures, threw everything conceivable into the mix; cannibalism, sexual deviance, drug induced homicidal and suicidal tendencies, and a walloping ending which explains the mystery of this heretofore unsolved monster of a puzzle. Even in Hough’s film, with a serviceable Matheson script, the basic formula remains intact; the smug para-psychologist, the traumatised evangelist, the cautionary medium and ‘smug’s’ sexually frustrated wife, all come to the doorstep of Belasco House, and enter at their own risk. If you read the novel first, then the film will come to mean much more, and is better appreciated.