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on 11 August 2017
I like Mathesson's style and the background to the story. The issue I take is that the story has dated poorly and what passed as psychological terror at the time is no longer considered 'scary' by contemporary standards. A classic, though the shine has faded.
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VINE VOICEon 6 November 2003
I read this solely because I had liked the film "The Legend of Hell House" so much. I didn't feel though that it was as effective at creating a disturbing atmosphere as the film was. The house itself for instance is different in the book. Whereas in the film it's a cobwebby, gloomy Gothic mansion, in the book it's a luxurious art deco-style palace, complete with swimming-pool and ballroom, like something out of the Great Gatsby. It sounds far more of desirable residence! I also feel the characters were better interpreted in the film. In the book it's hard to really care what happens to them.
Where the book IS better than the film is in the descriptions of Belasco's lifestyle. The film only refers to his dubious antics in a hysterical over-blown way, but in the book you get a detailed description of how he manipulated his guests, and just how horrifying his final house-party was. There is almost something Sadean about the descriptions of the guests descent into a living hell. We could almost do with a remake of the film with those parts added in as a disturbing flashback. What a horror film that would make!
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on 13 May 2017
Though I never had the pleasure of meeting him in person, I feel like I grew up with Richard Matheson. As a kid, I enjoyed the television episodes he wrote for shows such as ‘The Twilight Zone,’ ‘The Outer Limits’ and the lesser Rod Serling effort, ‘Night Gallery.’ Then there was the 1957 film ‘The Incredible Shrinking Man.’ Matheson wrote both the screenplay and the novel. A couple of years ago, I finally read his excellent vampire book I AM LEGEND—mainly because I had enjoyed both ‘The Last Man on Earth,’ starring Vincent Price and ‘I Am Legend,’ starring Will Smith. Somewhere along the line I saw the entertaining ‘The Legend of Hell House.’ Matheson wrote the screenplay based on his novel HELL HOUSE. Which brings me to this review.

Great Caesar’s ghost! Though I felt that the film was pretty dark and scary and hinted at some very unpleasant things in the area of sexual excess to the point of gruesome death, the book really blew me away with is cold, scientific logic pitted against the reality of one soul-killing haunting. I will tell you right now that this book is not for readers who enjoy a nice cozy ghost story with their hot cocoa. It is raw, vicious and primal. And it’s way nasty—the kind of nasty you might picture going on in the nether regions of Hell on any given Tuesday. Normally I enjoy horror with little to no after-effects. But this thing disturbed me on a very deep level—especially when the author gets around to talking about the tarn just outside Hell House. This is a powerful story, and for horror fans who like their scares hands-on and visual, a really great read.
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on 2 April 2017
I never know what to expect with Matheson. It moves freely between fantasy, paranormal and speculation fiction, always proposing stories outside the box. This, compared to other books I’ve read, is different because of the lack of a real main character around which the whole story revolves. It is in fact a choral novel that fully falls within the canons of horror, where one by one the characters that seem to have a primary role die, leaving only one or two at the end. In addition, there is the paranormal element that returns frequently in his works and here is yet addressed once in an original way.
Overall it is a novel that seems almost contemporary, since it is not afraid to put together violent, thorny and blasphemous elements, despite forty years passed since it was written.
The plot is compelling, especially in some passages. The subdivision of the scenes through the timestamp, therefore without chapters, encourages reading and increases the anxiogenic effect.
Unfortunately I read an Italian edition with a very old translation, although it does not affect much the perception of contemporaneity of the work, once you get used to the language, but it obviously cancels the illusion. Added to this is a classic horror ending that is quite predictable and leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return
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on 9 September 2014
This is last volume and you’ve been expecting a twist haven’t you. Some clever revelation about the house. Well sadly there isn’t one. The mystery is solved and some secrets come out, but without significant foreshadowing they are of little value.

The good point about these four volumes is the journey. The mystery, the development of the characters and the suspense is what has drawn you here. In the 1970’s this may have been a fresh and original work, although it did receive criticism for being similar to other novels of the time. Today the ending appears rather flat. Maybe it’s the way you tell them as all the elements are there for an interesting finale.

A capable end but not all it could have been. No Thumbs Today.
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on 20 August 2016
Drivel. Cheap titillation written for a generation that didn't have the internet.
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on 23 May 2001
Even after death, Belasco, "The Roaring Giant", greets his guests to a stay they won't easily forget... If they survive, that is. If you like haunted houses' stories, I really think you should read this one. It's my favourite Richard Matheson novel. The rythm is excellent and the atmosphere really chilly, plus the characters are well defined and very human. If you've seen the movie "Legend of Hell House" be warned: The book is much more violent and sexual. I agree some people may be dissapointed with the end -although I think it's quite good-; but I sure think the journey is worth it. You won't have to wait ages for something to happen, for every page is full of excitement.
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on 25 October 2009
This is easily the best horror novel I have ever read - and I have read a few. It was terrifying, but also, as with all of Matheson's books, very moving, humane and concerned with oldest questions of good vs evil.

What makes the book so effective is its realism and the psychological stories attached to its characters. Matheson seems to have done a lot of research into psyschic phenonemon, as the way he deals with the intuitions and powers of his characters as they confront the dark, malevolent Freudian morass of the House is brilliantly done. He makes you care about his protagonists and become deeply involved with their battle against the ultimate darkness, both within and without.

I cannot recommend this novel too highly. Its a masterpiece. I will never forget the experience of reading it one night in bed and having at one point to stop, lower the book and look squarely around the room just to be sure that nothing sinister was going on. The grip the book has on your mind is that powerful....
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on 9 September 2014
With good source material, a talented adapter, and a strong artist this is a great haunted house story.

Richard Matheson, author of I am Legend, A Stir of Echoes, The Shrinking Man and lots of other books that were turned into films, wrote a horror story in 1971. It was filmed in 1973 and adapted by IDW in 2004. This is the first part.

It has a really creepy vibe to it typical of the horror fiction of the 1970’s - the era of The Shining and The Omen. The story is intelligently delivered with a good framing device which instigates the characters’ entry into the proceedings.

The art is black and white ink that, through good lighting techniques, really captures the shadowy fears of exploring an old house. The characters have strong and expressive faces and there is a robust sense of movement on the page. Good use is made of the lettering which is very expressive, but not without the odd typo.

The story is collected into four parts, each of which is 48 pages long, which seems an odd choice. We do get a lot crammed into this first volume with intelligent pacing and page-turning excitement. Unfortunately the history of the house is delivered in a couple of pages of talking heads which is a let-down.

A strong start and a well-deserved Thumbs Up!
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on 16 August 2015
There's no doubt that this is a classic horror however there's no avoiding the fact that it feels rather dated. And not always in the good way that "classics" are supposed to. Still, it's a brilliant story and masterfully written. Fun and essential reading for any ghost-horror genre fan.
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