Movie Review: The Legend of Hell House (1973)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1973 horror movie starring Roddy McDowall and Pamela Franklin.

Synopsis: A pair of mediums and a physicist are hired to investigate a notorious mansion and seek answers about whether or not there is life after death. Their lives are quickly put in danger. But, by what? Is it the the previous owner? His son? Or, is the house itself to blame for the deaths of those who investigated before them.


This is a movie I had seen once before, many years ago. But, because I couldn't remember much about it, I decided to take the time to watch it again, this time with my wife, last night. Unfortunately, while I thought it was a movie we would both enjoy, I found it just wasn't as good as I remembered it.

I will start out by saying the film does have a couple good things going for it. One thing I found I liked, in particular, was the ongoing conflict between the skeptical physicist (Revill) and the two mediums (Franklin and McDowall). There was obviously something going on in the house but all three had different opinions about what was behind the activity. Those differences, combined with growing mistrust, did create some tense situations.

I think my problem with this movie is it never really reached the level it had the potential to. The personality conflicts were interesting. But, they weren't enough to carry the movie. And, unfortunately, the bulk of the "scary" portions were nothing more than some objects moving and glasses shattering.

Of course, one thing that didn't help this film was the way it kept insisting on being about sex. The physicist's wife (Hunnicutt) making efforts to seduce McDowall's character was bad. The part with Franklin's character getting naked and seducing a ghost in an effort to release him with love was just weird.

I also have to say I was very disappointed by the ending, mostly because it offers very little closure, including how, exactly, the survivors were going to explain the deaths that occurred over the course of a couple days. Those types of endings are bad enough when the movie was worth watching. Unfortunately, this film really didn't offer enough to support such a weak finish.

The Legend of Hell House

In sits there, shrouded in mist and mystery, a nesting place for living evil and terror from the dead. It's Hell House. Roddy McDowall heads the cast of this exciting chiller ab...

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Final Opinion

Based on the premise, I thought my wife and I were going to watch a good classic horror movie. Instead, we ended up watching an average wannabe-soft-core-porn film. I won't go as far as to say I hated the movie. But, it wasn't as enjoyable as I hoped.

My Grade: C

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Updated: 09/28/2016, StevenHelmer
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