Monday, October 3, 2011


I've always thought the box art was deceptively horrible. I'm sure it dissuaded many renters back in the day, or perhaps even tricked some people into snagging it with the expectation that this film held something more of the same imagery in store.

There are quite a few invalid bullshit terms used by wannabe critics to disparage films. Sometimes they're even misused. Nothing pisses me off more than when someone sacks a movie because it looks or feels "dated." Granted, some films age better than others, but the value of a movie that strives to be contemporary to its respective period certainly isn't any lesser. Many have skewered "The Legend of Hell House" with the dated criticism, but when you strip all the mod fashions away you have some factors that transcend its time and are still incredibly effective by today's standards. While nowhere near as graphic as it could have been, its golden staple is its pervasive atmosphere. I've heard people call it unintentionally funny, and I think those people are confused. I've seldom been to a horror screening where the audience didn't laugh at some point that was not intended to be humorous. This is mainly a defense mechanism. Horror films give us the opportunity to confront very real fears in much the same way the plummet of a roller coaster reminds us of our own mortality. Laughter indicates that we have a level of comfort with a subject. Death bothers everyone at some point, and horror films are psychologically a healthy method of facing those fears. To laugh at something which frightens you robs it of its power over you. It's a very defiant and empowering act. That said, sure, people laugh at this film, but I certainly don't think it's because there's anything unintentionally funny about it. The topic of the paranormal is absurd to most people in general, and it handles the subject matter very well. In fact, "The Legend of Hell House" is one of the finest films of this sort.

The story follows a crack team of paranormal researchers, which consist of a spirit medium, a physical medium, and a scientist who believes he can purge the mount Everest of haunted houses of its sinister energies. All the performances are great, but the killer is Roddy McDowall as the apprehensive psychic Fischer, who's also the most complex character of the bunch. While the others are strangers to this house, Fischer was actually the lone survivor of a previous psychic investigation, which left all of his former colleagues either dead or insane. But Fischer's game when there's money involved, and so he once again enters the ominous-looking state where all manner of perversion have painted the walls in bad energy.

Give it the chance and the attention it deserves and be rewarded with a strong supernatural thriller with many very likable aspects. Check out the trailer courtesy OurManInHavana.

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