Monday, January 30, 2017

The Original: The Legend of Hell House

Greetings gang and welcome to the week. Now I know the "Random Goofy" was a terrible title and the reviews were however enjoyed minus that horrible tagline with them so this time around I decided to watch several of the original versus their remakes. Some of the remakes in question were highly enjoyable and unbeknownst to me were in fact, remakes. This marks to be a wonderful exercise in comparison but I promise to not harp on the remakes and remain as objective as humanly possible. Today's film I saw the remake in 2009 and was not that impressed. The film in question was Hell House and turns out aside from its title had no real direct relation with today's movie but apparently a 2017 remake of the original is on its way. This is The Legend of Hell House.

Sex more than once a year? You must be mad, dear.

Now it would appear that the blanket name "Hell House" has been used as an alternative titles as far back as 1982 so you can understand my confusion. With Next of Kin in 1982, Carnage in 1984, The Haunting of Sorority Row a.k.a. The Deadly Pledge in 2007, Hell House in 2009 and finally Hell House LLC in 2015 you can begin to grasp my confusion. On with the film.

Millionaire Mr. Deutsch (Roland Culver of The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Dead of Night, Thunderball, The Uncanny, The Greek Tycoon and Saint Joan) hires physicist Lionel Barrett (Clive Revill of Galileo, Pinocchio, The Great Houdini, The New Avengers, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Zorro: The Gay Blade, Alvin & the Chipmunks, Snorks, C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud, and Star Wars: X-Wing) to do an in-depth top to bottom shakedown of the Belasco House, a home reputed to be the end all, the mother load of haunted houses once owned by a perverse millionaire and alleged murderer Emeric Belasco (Michael Gough of The Man in the White Suit, Horror of Dracula, Count of Monte Cristo, The Protectors, Doctor Who, Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin) this towering 6 foot 5 mountain of a man. (FYI, Michael Gough is maybe 5'11") Deutsch is obsessed with the idea of proof of life after death that the house becomes his focal point as the stories of the house being haunted by the victims of Belasco's sadistic pleasures of torture and murder. Yup, that sounds like a vacation spot to me. Guy could have saved a ton of scratch and just called the Ghostfinders via Simon R Green.

Kitty doesn't want milk. Kitty wants your soul!!!

Barrett arrives with his wife Ann (Gayle Hunnicutt of Marlowe, Scorpio, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Return of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Philip Marlowe, Private Eye, Target and Dallas)as well as two mediums, one a psychic Florence Tanner (Pamela Franklin of The Innocents, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, And Soon the Darkness, Barnaby Jones, Trapper John, M.D., and Fantasy Island) and a survivor of a disasterous attempt to review the house prior 20 years ago, Ben Fischer (Roddy McDowell of Robert Montgomery Presents, Matinee Theatre, Midnight Lace, Batman, Night Gallery, The Planet of The Apes, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, A Taste of Evil, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, McCloud, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, Planet of the Apes TV series, Funny Lady, The Martian Chronicles, Fright Night, Fright Night II and Batman: The Animated Series) as a physical medium sensitive to the supernatural.

Yikes, the quaaludes kicked in something fierce.

Naturally Barrett doesn't wish his wife to accompany him after the event where Fischer was the only one to live but Ann insists to join him. Fischer seems to be keeping his head down and his psychic shields up. He is strictly in it for the pay day. The curious quartet must spend the winter week in isolation, discover the mystery of Belasco House or Hell House if you prefer and survive its madness.

Writer/novelist/screenwriter Richard Matheson (I Am Legend, Die! Die! My Darling!, De Sade, Being, Duel, Night Gallery, Circle of Fear, The Night Stalker, Hell House, Trilogy of Terror, Dead of Night, Jaws 3-D, What Dreams May Come and Stir of Echoes) is no stranger to horror but the intensity of his novel had such an impact with its graphic violence and more excessive sex scenes that he had to water it down for the screenplay to give the movie more of a brooding or foreboding ambience.  FYI, this was eerie as hell so I am now curious to read the book.

The music really sets the atmosphere of dread and things to come. It is almost a character in of itself driving the story along. It has always been hinted that this story is loosely based on the occultist/alchemist/writer Aleister Crowley. There is a fair degree of nudity, psycho-sexual dreams and bizarre practical effects for this film so I wouldn't recommend it for the kiddies. 

Guess the spirits didn't care for the place settings.