The Legend of Hell House

The Legend of Hell House

The Legend of Hell House (1973) is still today, a frightening film. It also goes to show that you don’t need CGI to make a film believable and terrifying. It stars Roddy McDowell and Pamela Franklin and was directed by John Hough.


Firstly, we meet an annoying ginger haired physicist named Lionel Barrett. He just really gets on my wick and he is not a character that I find endearing. In fact, I can’t wait for him to be killed off. Mind you, if it wasn’t for an eccentric millionnaire who hired him, there would be no investigating adventures to see if there is indeed, ‘survival after death‘. The location is the ‘Mount Everest of haunted houses’, which is the Belasco House.

In addition to the sceptical Barrett, is his sexy wife and lord knows how he was managing to keep her. Also, there are another two mediums. One of them, (Roddy McDowell) is returning after being the only sole survivor of an earlier investigation.

The Legend of Hell House
Who will survive Belasco House?

The Legend of Hell House

I was watching this film last night (lost count of how many times I’ve watched it), which prompted this review.

To begin with, the Belasco house was originally the scene of debauchery and murder. Therefore, this investigating team are about to find out how dangerous it really is. 

Firstly, I cannot tell you how much the physicist is annoying me. However, I take great delight in finding out that he discovers he doesn’t have answers for everything. 

So, if you haven’t watched this film, how many do you think will survive?

Right from the start, the imagery and the music set the tone of this thrilling film. Eerie like bongo music is playing as we see the Belasco House shrouded in mist, slowly coming into view.

The Legend of Hell House

Without a doubt, that bloody cat attacking the medium is a scene you won’t forget.

Do you like black cats?

Of course, I was sitting on the very edge of my seat, listening to the wailing cat noises while my heart began pounding. I’m watching in absolute horror as the medium is pulling the clawing cat off her skin before throwing it across the room. Coincidentally, my identical black cat, suddenly springs up on to the couch behind me looking alarmed. Both me and my cat are transfixed watching this cat attacking her until she locked herself into the bathroom.

Later in the film, this same medium eventually succumbs to the spirit that is haunting her. She offers her body in the hope that the spirit will go to heaven.

Stupid move!

Of course, she is well and truly under the spirits spell. Next, she’s laughing hysterically with a deranged and frightening face.

Roddy McDowell
Roddy McDowell

In my opinion, this is such a great film with lots of freaky happenings to keep you thoroughly entertained.

While looking up information for this post, I found out that this is one of only two productions of James H Nicholson. This follows his departure from American International Pictures. Furthermore, I also found out that the Blasco house exists and it is called ‘Wykehurst Place‘. Without a doubt, if allowed, I will be visiting this Gothic revival mansion in Bolney, West Sussex with my camera. Moreover, I wonder if there are real hauntings in this beautiful mansion, which was designed in 1871?

Summarising The Legend of Bell House

Finally, I must say this about The Legend of Bell House.

It’s one of those horror films that undoubtedly stands the test of time. Pre CGI, this film most definitely raises your heartbeat. Also, you’re not watching it and grimacing at any poor acting. This is adult Gothic horror that you will find frightening. This is especially so if you wonder about the existence of hauntings.

Finally, is this a classic that hopefully you will be watching soon?

The Legend of Hell House
The Legend of Hell House