Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Hell House by Richard Matheson

Hell House
by Richard Matheson

Funded by a dying millionaire anxious to learn if there's life after death, a group of psychics and parapsychologists stay at the haunted Belasco House.  The novel blows its load early for my liking in spelling out the house's back story all at once, seeing as how it's the greatest back story of all time.  A Marquis de Sade type perverting the innocent into conducting month long depraved orgies, complete with an abortion bog outside.  After laying all that out, the rest of the novel had nowhere to go but down.

There are some creepy scenes scattered about, but I was left cold by the two main themes of the book.  The whole sexual repression thing was done better in the Haunting of Hill House, and would be less relevant in 1971 than 1959, I would think.  Next is the whole conflict between spiritualist hogwash and pseudoscientific horse hockey.  To me their both equally implausible in real life, and equally acceptable in fiction, so I don't have a horse in that race.

The house is being modernized, and they prioritized having a steam room and pool over working electricity.  Take a guess why.  And I'll go ahead and spoil the ending, as it's the worst reveal in history.  Belasco, the dead guy that is either a ghost or left his negative psychic energies in a lead-lined room, had lifts in his shoes.  He was short.  I didn't get why this was a deal in the movie, and in the book we don't have the benefit of Roddy McDowall hamming it up.

No comments:

Post a Comment