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Hell House by Richard Matheson
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Hell House (1971)

by Richard Matheson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,072None7,765 (3.6)97
  1. 70
    The Shining by Stephen King (angelikat)
  2. 10
    The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (sturlington)
    sturlington: Hell House was clearly inspired by The Haunting of Hill House.
  3. 00
    The Medusa In The Shield (Dark Descent) by David G. Hartwell (cammykitty)
  4. 00
    The Supernaturals by David L. Golemon (Scottneumann)
  5. 44
    The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson (Moomin_Mama)
    Moomin_Mama: Both very 70s, a bit dated, scary in places but unintentially funny in others... and both about haunted houses.
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English (40)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (42)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
Not bad, not great. It's The Haunting of Hill House mashed up with The Exorcist, though I'd have to check the publication date of The Exorcist to see which influenced the other.

While not exactly a rip-off of Shirley Jackson's classic, it's pretty close. I guess it depends on what you're looking for in a haunted house novel as to what your preferences are. If you want sex, violence, blood and action Hell House is for you. If you prefer subtlety and to leave your novels with a sense of questioning, well, you might prefer to check out The Haunting of Hill House.

Ultimately I was satisfied with the end, but if you're looking for deep philosophical thoughts on life after death, I suggest Matheson's kinder, gentler work on the subject What Dreams May Come. ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
It was a good read. I expected more out of this book. It really picked up towards the end, but then kind of fell flat. There were many possibilities to amp up the horror effect. I felt like the author just got tired at the end and inserted a wtf ending that didn't make any sense. It was basically a watered down haunted house story. ( )
  mistybattle | Nov 27, 2013 |
Wow. Hell House stands the test of time. By far, the best haunted house story I’ve ever read. Matheson was at his peek and delivered a terrifying tale filled with realistic characters and shocking descriptions. Loved every page. So he nicked a lot from Shirley Jackson, but he did so with style. Easily one of the top ten horror novels ever written. ( )
  DrakeVaughn | Nov 7, 2013 |
“There’s no such thing as the supernatural, is there?”
“The word is ‘supernormal’.”
“It’s superstition, all of it!”
“I’m sorry, but it isn’t…anyone who chooses to refer to psychic phenomena as superstition simply isn’t aware of what’s going on in the world.”
-from Richard Matheson’s “Hell House”


Richard Matheson’s very short novel follows a group of four experts with various supernatural-related backgrounds, who seek to prove or disprove the existence of ghosts in a super-creepy home that’s become known as Hell House. And a hellish house it is indeed.

The roots of the story are built on a foundation of gothic horror. I’ve not read a lot of HP Lovecraft, but I couldn’t help but be reminded of his very heavy and mythic language throughout Matheson’s story. “They all stared through the windows at the curling fog. It was as though they rode inside a submarine, slowly navigating downward through a sea of curdled milk.”

The following exposition describes what the group sees as they approach the house for the first time: “It had been raining hard since five o’clock that morning. Brontean weather, Dr. Barrett thought. He repressed a smile. He felt rather like a character in some latter-day Gothic romance.”

It also appears that the movie series “Saw” paid homage to this classic short novel in its’ structure around the ever-disembodied presence of Jigsaw. Emeric Belasco was the owner of Hell House and his voice is heard on a record, started by an unknown force…”Think of me as your unseen host and believe that, during your stay here, I shall be with you in spirit.”

“It knows we’re here.”

Matheson builds plausible reasons why these supernatural phenomena happen…two of the three characters believe without a doubt in the existence of ghosts and otherworldly supernatural beings. One believes that the phenomena are real, but projected through the living, not the dead. This conflict creates a good bit of dramatic tension, though not enough to drive the story and characters on its’ own.

“Hell House” is an enjoyable read and it’s short. It left me, a few times, taking a peek behind my back in my darkened bedroom, though I feel the story had much greater potential. I liked it, but didn’t love it. ( )
  JGolomb | Jul 25, 2013 |
I'm not big on scary books, but I wanted to try something different, so I gave this a spin. I expected to be crying and wetting myself by the end... But I surprised myself! It's creepy (and sometimes yucky) for sure. But scary? Not to me really.

I read this directly following a reading of The Haunting of Hill House, so I think it's rating benefited from that. I liked Hill House, but thought it could have been so much more than it was. This book had everything that Hill House was missing.

I loved Matheson's writing style, so I can't wait to read more by him! Overall, a good creepy story. ( )
  breakofdawn | Jun 11, 2013 |
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With love, for my daughters Bettina and Alison who have haunted my life so sweetly
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It had been raining hard since five o'clock that morning.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312868855, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:29 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A group of four people enter Belasco House, known as the "Mount Everest of haunted houses."

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