Weekend Movies: Five Reasons to Watch The Legend of Hell House
This one comes as a result of a shout out to some of my dearest friends from my teenage years (we were a small group, but we still keep in touch and they are even more badass now than they were back then). 1973’s The Legend of Hell House somehow became a staple of our sleepovers. It was such a tradition that there are still moments when one of us will begin quoting it to another, and the sentence will finish itself. I’m surprised when people say they haven’t seen it. Luckily, the magical, mystical world of YouTube has come to our rescue once again. Here are five reasons to watch it this weekend.
|So much love for this.|
#1 – It’s a pretty good adaptation of a Richard Matheson novel
This film is based off of Matheson’s 1971 novel Hell House. I’ll be honest: while Matheson is a great read, I find that some of the films that result from his work are not very good adaptations of his novels. For anyone keeping track at home, you will have noted that I am still supremely pissed about the latest instance of I Am Legend, which, apparently, no one can fucking adapt with the excellent ending the goddamn story had to begin with. This one, though, is pretty true to the book and manages to hit the high notes as well as the terror. Probably didn’t hurt that Matheson wrote the screenplay himself.
#2 – Pamela Franklin
Ah, Pamela, with your wide eyes and knack for 70s horror (Satan’s School for Girls, anyone?). She brings a doe-eyed naivete to her role as Florence Tanner, a medium trying desperately to see the good in the souls trapped in this haunted house. She wants to help, and we’re rewarded with moments of indignance and tantrum. It’s so delicious to watch. This is the cinematic equivalent to a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Karmel Sutra for me.
|Gotta love a woman that’s rocking both a comb over and a mullet.|
#3 – Finally, a dark haunted house story
I find that many haunted house stories have gotten sanitized over the years. Yes, we get haunted objects and possessions, but really, being afraid of what lurks in an actual house to the point of thinking of it as an entity is something that few films achieve. This one makes you afraid of what’s lurking around the corners, and it brings the scary pretty early on. The fun part? The action takes place over the course of a few days. Stepping back and looking at it, it’s a bit like being at a metal concert where there is no test note. This haunted house just dives in and has a field day.
#4 – The costumes
God am I a sucker for the 1970s (most likely because I did not exist until 1980). The hair. The makeup. The clothes. Roddy McDowall’s glasses, for Christ’s sake! It’s equal parts horror and fascination. If you’re anything like me, you’ll spend a few seconds in each scene just marveling at what the hell everyone was wearing. Even if you would never wear your hair like that, you know at least one family member that did. It’s extraordinary. I feel like the Indiana Jones of bad fashion.
#5 – It’s fun
This is a reason I come back to for some of my recommendations, but really, what the hell good is a movie if you’re not having fun watching it? Yes, being scared does indeed count as having fun; it’s fun to not know what’s going to happen next, to try to guess the solution to the puzzle, or even to crawl into the chest of the person with which you’re watching the movie. This particular film can be unintentionally funny when it’s not trying to creep you out. Between that and the creep factor, it’s a fun ride in October.
|You poor bastards have no idea what you’re in for over the next few days.|
This one is free on YouTube. Do yourself a favor and watch it, if only for the bragging rights.