HELL HOUSE—Raw, Vicious and Primal

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.

You can find this review at Amazon US.

Book Blurb

[Hell House Cover]

Rolf Rudolph Deutsch is going die. But when Deutsch, a wealthy magazine and newpaper publisher, starts thinking seriously about his impending death, he offers to pay a physicist and two mediums, one physical and one mental, $100,000 each to establish the facts of life after death.

Dr. Lionel Barrett, the physicist, accompanied by the mediums, travel to the Belasco House in Maine, which has been abandoned and sealed since 1949 after a decade of drug addiction, alcoholism, and debauchery. For one night, Barrett and his colleagues investigate the Belasco House and learn exactly why the townfolks refer to it as the Hell House.

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