***/**** Image A- Sound B Extras B
starring Pamela Franklin, Roddy McDowall, Clive Revill, Gayle Hunnicutt
screenplay by Richard Matheson, based upon his novel Hell House
directed by John Hough
by Bryant Frazer Released in the summer of 1973, this film version of Richard Matheson's 1971 novel Hell House arrived during a transformative period for horror movies--especially British horror. The gothic trappings popularized by England's Hammer Pictures were being upstaged by the more contemporary settings of hits like Night of the Living Dead, which reflected America's misadventures in Vietnam in a disorienting funhouse mirror, and Rosemary's Baby, which brought Satanism out of the woods and into the city. Hammer tried to keep up with more salacious endeavours like the lesbian-themed Karnstein trilogy, but the old-school horror movie was pretty much put out to pasture when The Exorcist debuted at the end of '73. By some measures, then, The Legend of Hell House was ahead of its time, even though it failed to fully capitalize on themes The Exorcist popularized: spiritual possession, sexual abandon, and the failure of rational thought to deal adequately with supernatural phenomena.