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Hell House by Richard Matheson
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Hell House (original 1971; edition 1971)

by Richard Matheson

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1,369635,652 (3.6)115
Member:sturlington
Title:Hell House
Authors:Richard Matheson
Info:New York, Viking Press [1971]
Collections:Read but unowned, Favorites
Rating:****
Tags:Haunted, New England, read in 2003

Work details

Hell House by Richard Matheson (1971)

  1. 90
    The Shining by Stephen King (angelikat)
  2. 00
    The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (sturlington)
    sturlington: 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. 46
    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 (60)  French (1)  Italian (1)  Finnish (1)  English (63)
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My original Hell House audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.

“It's the Mount Everest of haunted houses.” Hell House is a novel written by Richard Matheson about the “Mount Everest of haunted houses.”It is a fitting quote as Matheson was Sir Edmund Hillary to the sci fi and horror genre. Modern writers, like Stephen King, and filmmakers, like George Romero, list him as one of their major influences. His credits include novels, short stories, screenplays, television, and even one non-fiction. Reading Hell House is almost a rite of passage for lovers of the haunted house genre.

The book is centered on the Belasco House is rural Maine, so rural not even Stephen King has been there. The house was owned by an extraordinarily wealthy and amoral man. He built it as far away from everything as he could and in a generally unhealthy area to discourage unwanted visitors. While he lived, the opulent house was host to ongoing parties which increased in depravity and violence over the years. When family of guests finally checked on them, they found everyone dead, Belasco missing and the house abandoned.

As the story starts Dr. Lionel Barrett is hired by another fabulously wealthy man to put an end to the question of whether there is life after death. Barrett does not believe in the soul. He is a scientist. In addition to his wife, Barrett takes Florence, a mental medium, and Ben, a physical medium and the only survivor of a previous Belasco investigation team. The ectoplasm hits the fan almost immediately on their arrival. The questions of who or what is haunting Hell House grow with each incident until the final chapter.

Hell House is a very good haunted house story. It is not the best though. The Mount Everest of haunted house stories title belongs to Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. Matheson was definitely taking Jackson on with Hell House (Stephen King did his homage to her with his screenplay of Rose Red). There are many similarities in the beginning. Matheson uses a lot of sexual situations where Jackson does not. Matheson’s horrors are fully exposed while Jackson’s are implied and more frightening for that very reason. While it is not Mount Everest, Hell House is K2, still a good book and a classic in the genre.

Ray Porter did a great job narrating it. His voice is smooth and calming, which adds to the horror in a very unique way. Even at the height of action, his voice never rises. He conveys all the emotion and horror without yelling or screaming. His characters are great. He must have an amazing vocal range. Barrett’s character has a deeper voice than Fischers. The women’s voices are slightly higher and the speech patterns different so it is easy to tell them apart. The production values were excellent. I also found that Ray Porter’s voice reminds of Bill Ratner (“Alexander feels a strange pulling sensation.”).

I must confess that Haunted Houses are my favorite part of the horror genre. The audiobook of Hell House is a wonderful addition to my collection.


Audiobook provided for review by the audiobookreviewer.com

Story (Plot) 5
Performance 5
Production Quality 5
Attention Holding 5

( )
  nhalliwell | Nov 13, 2016 |
1.5
I haven't got a clue how to rate this book. There are too many things I found either funny or plain bad. I even waited for a day or so to think about it. On the one hand, I like haunted house theme (half a star for the theme). On the other, there are tons of things which I really didn't like. First, it isn't scary. At all. Sure, there are a few moments that should have been scary, but for me they were plain flat - as if I was watching from above.
Second, I didn't like the characters or how they were presented. Barret, the self appointed unofficial leader of the group of people who were hired to spend a few days in that house, is the worst with his constant patronizing chuckle and calmness.
Simply put: I didn't like this story. The ending is hilarious. I think this story might probably be better as a film. I really thought I'd like this book more. ( )
  Aneris | Oct 31, 2016 |
House of Depravity- 4.5 stars...

So much has already been said about this book so I'm not going to beat it to death but I thought it was a fantastic haunted house story. I can definitely understand why it garnered so much attention. I even really liked the ending which isn't always the case for me in this genre. It was thoroughly satisfying and it wasn't left open for you to draw your own conclusions like some of the paranormal horror stories that I've come across. The only reason I didn't give it five stars is because, yes it nailed the gruesome and the shocking but, I thought it lacked the foreboding and build up of suspense to give it the scare factor that I was hoping for and would have been the perfect accompaniment to Belasco's Hell House. ( )
  EmpressReece | Aug 22, 2016 |
Four investigators spend a week inside a haunted house. ( )
  jrthebutler | Jul 19, 2016 |
I think if I had read this at night and in one sitting it would have scared the crap out of me. Also if I was in my teens. But now that I'm older and have met lots of psychics and read a lot about the spirit world and spirit guides, this didn't scare me as much as it could have. It was very well written and I think the movie version would be scary. Make sure to set the stage when you go to read this and you will definitely have nightmares after reading this. ( )
1 vote MHanover10 | Jul 10, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Richard Mathesonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Deas, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Deas, RichCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Porter, RayNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:46 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

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

(summary from another edition)

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