Mr. Deutsch hires physicist Lionel Barrett to go and spend a week in the Belasco house, he's to study survival after death as it's been long reported to be haunted by the spirits of it's dead owner Emeric Belasco and his supposed victims. Emeric was a millionaire who had a penchant for the depraved, he disappeared after a massacre took place in the house. Barrett is accompanied to the house with his wife Ann and two mediums, Florence Tanner is a mental medium and Ben Fischer who is a physical medium and the only survivor of a previous investigation in the house. Barrett seems very suspicious of Florence and Ben, especially when mental medium Florence starts showing signs of physical manifestations, he believes that Tanner is using the energy in the house against him after he's attacked by invisible forces. Soon after this attack, Ann begins to suffer from erotic visions and Florence is attacked by what she believes to be Belasco's son Daniel, meanwhile Barrett is getting more frustrated with Fischer believing him to be closing his mind to the house and is just after his share of the money. As the attacks become more frightening, the group are going to have to rid the house of Emeric Belasco before they all end up dead.
Pamela Franklin is good as Florence Tanner, my only other experience of her is from her small role a decade earlier in The Innocents. I'm very surprised she seemed to slip into tv mediocrity soon after this film, she was certainly a good enough lead to have landed some decent film roles after this. Roddy McDowall was the only actor that I was really familiar with, he was a little over the top in a few scenes but generally gives a solid performance. Like myself, most people probably know him best as Cornelius in Planet Of The Apes and Peter Vincent in Fright Night. Clive Revill and Gayle Hunnicutt are absolutely fine as Dr. Barrett and his wife Ann, Michael Gough has an extremely small part but it's an almost blink and you'll miss him role. It's very competently directed by John Hough, he later went on to direct Escape To and Return From Witch Mountain and the very decent but hardly seen American Gothic with Rod Steiger. Richard Matheson, author of I Am Legend and A Stir Of Echoes wrote the screenplay from his own novel Hell House.
The Legend Of Hell House almost feels like The Haunting's little brother, it desperately wants to be like the much loved older brother but doesn't quite live up to it. It has a similar story, and much like The Haunting, it doesn't rely on gore or violence. The film is genuinely creepy in parts, but doesn't match the sense of foreboding that The Haunting creates. Most haunted house films really don't work at all, in my opinion The Haunting and The Changeling are by far the stand out films of the genre, but after those I can't think of one that has worked as well as The Legend Of Hell House. I'm just thinking about the traditional big creepy haunted house films with that statement, of course films like Poltergeist, The Shining and The Amityville Horror are classics but I wouldn't really group them together with films like The Haunting and The Legend Of Hell House. Compared to recent efforts like the 13 Ghosts, The Haunting and The House On Haunted Hill remakes, this is a bit of a classic and well worth checking out if you prefer your scares to be well thought out and slowly built. If you prefer blood and awful CGI then i'd suggest watching those remakes instead. The Belasco House is a big, dark, creepy place, it's called the mount everest of haunted houses in the film and lives up to its name. I loved the ending and the explanation to how the house has remained haunted for all these years, and the sexual undertones and Belasco's seedy past was dealt with well. I've never read the Matheson novel, but I believe the film dropped a lot of the sexual aspects and to some this meant the film lost the power that the book had. Regardless of whether you've read the book, surely the film is well worth watching if you like 60's and 70's haunting movies. Clocking in at just 90 minutes, the film takes a little while to get going, but once it does it doesn't let up from the impressive atmosphere it created. The picture quality is okay for a film of its age and budget, but sadly the disc lacks any extras. There's English, Danish, Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian subtitles. I feel the 3 stars aren't quite justifying how much I like the film, i'd ideally love to put 3.5 stars, if the disc had as little as a 10 minute interview with the director or a quick making of, I wouldn't have hesitated in rounding it up to 4 stars.