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Hell House

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  14,880 ratings  ·  846 reviews
Can any soul survive?
Regarded as the Mount Everest of haunted houses, Belasco House has witnessed scenes of almost unimaginable horror and depravity. Two previous expeditions to investigate its secrets met with disaster, the participants destroyed by murder, suicide or insanity. Now a new investigation has been mounted - four strangers, each with his or her own reason for...more
Hardcover, 301 pages
Published July 1st 2004 by Severn House Publishers (first published 1971)
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The Shining by Stephen KingIt by Stephen King'Salem's Lot by Stephen KingDracula by Bram StokerPet Sematary by Stephen King
Best Horror Novels
31st out of 1,147 books — 3,564 voters
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Ghost Stories
6th out of 699 books — 1,085 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dan Schwent
I've been a Richard Matheson fan for a few years now and he rarely disappoints. Hell House is no different. A dying millionaire offers a physicist and two psychics a hundred thousand dollars apiece to spend a week in a haunted house to prove or disprove the existence of an afterlife. Sounds simple enough, right?

Tensions run high between the investigators. Barrett thinks Florence's beliefs are crap and his scientific explanation is the only one. Fischer doesn't seem to be doing much which also ir...more
I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to read such a horror classic by one of the masters who has influenced so many others, including Stephen King. First off, what I loved:

1) What’s not to love? Matheson manages to accomplish a haunted house story that is not only supremely eerie and filled with a creepy atmosphere that’s sublime, but a full-on assault of the senses as well. This book does not pussy-foot around – it is in your face practically from page one all the way through to the end.

Book ten of the commute. This book is yet another "product of its times", and once again the times in question are the seventies (see also "Still Life With Woodpecker"). This book, if some of the blurbs on the back cover are to be believed, is a classic of American horror, and I'm a big fan of horror (especially Stephen King, who is in fact the praising voice of one of the back-cover blurbs) so I decided to check it out. Like a lot of good horror, the book combines fantastic fears, like ghosts a...more
Good creepy novel. While not so awesome as The Shining or Haunting of Hill House (the two greatest haunting novels ever, IMHO), this is a solid showing in the genre. Furthermore, as a friend pointed out, in the sprawling shelves of crappy modern horror, this is definitely a worthy read. Some readers complain that it has a dated feel, but I disagree. The 1970s technology has little bearing on its fright factor; for my own part, I prefer horror novels to be slightly old-fashioned -- tape recorders...more
Mar 22, 2012 Maciek rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in what a 70's gothic novel might be
Obviously inspired by Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, Richard Matheson's Hell House pays homage to Jackson by borrowing the basic crux of the plot - several characters gathering to investigate a seemingly haunted mansion - and making the story his own instead of merely copying the earlier novel.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of the original Hill House was its ambiguity concerning the origin and source of the hauntings; it Hell House there is plenty of ambiguity, but it's obvious tha...more
Chilling thriller, a house which has a history of indulgence in evil and acts of the most vile and depraved committed by residents and visitors years past by and all departed this earth or have they? Are their souls still haunting the house?
That's the task of a group who have been hired to investigate the house for the supernatural, but a game is being played against them as they take resident the question is by who and will they leave alive?
Matheson is a great writer when it comes to painting
“Welcome to my house, I’m delighted you could come. I am certain you will find your stay here most illuminating. It is regrettable I cannot be with you, but I had to leave before your arrival. Do not let my physical absence disturb you, however. Think of me as your unseen host and believe that, during your stay here, I shall be with you in spirit.” ~ Emeric Belasco

Belasco House…Hell House…within these dark passages and cavernous rooms resides the residue of pure, unadulterated evil.

This book be...more
I think this is going to be a hard book to review. It has a reputation as one of the scariest haunted house books ever written, and I went in with high expectations. There are some genuinely scary moments in there, but in the end, it just didn't do it for me.

It's very much a produce of its times, in this case 1971. It's particularly obvious in the treatment of sex and sexuality (which is, frankly, crude) but also in the handling of the paranormal. Physical mediums like Fischer are all but extinc...more
This is a classic. Matheson has managed to create the perfect haunted house story, IMO. He has it all; eccentric rich men, mediums, the loyal wife, the dedicated scientist & the creepiest house in the most horrifying setting imaginable. There's some sex, plenty of violence & wonderfully described seances.

Best of all, there is a pervasive logic behind the entire story & several layers of horror. It's not just horror of outside forces, but also of inner demons. Each character is well f...more
Like The Haunting of Hill House before it, Hell House tells the story of four people coming together to study a notorious, vacant, and reportedly haunted house.

Unlike its predecessor, Hell House has bite. Where Shirley Jackson tells her story with beautiful, smooth flowing prose, Richard Matheson finds a way to get under the reader's skin. I thought of this as an NC-17 version of Hill House, where the things only hinted at in the older novel come about completely in your face.

The characters, als...more
La sombra de Richard Matheson es alargada. Y es que Matheson es uno de los autores que más han influenciado en otros escritores, sobre todo en cuanto al género de terror se refiere. Autores como Stepthen King o Dean Koontz, como ellos no dudan en admitir, le deben mucho a la obra de Matheson.

El escenario: la Casa Belasco, según todos los expertos en parapsicología, la casa más encantada del mundo. El propietario, el millonario señor Deutsch, se propone conocer la verdad sobre la existencia de la...more
Oct 24, 2011 Bill rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: horror
It's late October, and in the spirit of the season, I am dedicating most of my reading to horror. Wheee!
Hell House has been on my to-read list for a very long time, and thanks
to the magic of Kindle reading, a copy was readily available to me at the push of a button.
Adding to the excitement was a chance to read Richard Matheson again, whose only works I've read have been I am Legend, and What Dreams May Come.

Well, I'm sad to say that Hell House has turned out to be a disappointment.

This is, of co...more
Mike (the Paladin)
I couldn't actually find the edition I read back in '73 or so. I read it after I saw the movie Legend of Hell House...

I've read other Matheson novels since this book, and have found that I will probably never be a fan. I finish the books and, in the end, find that while they haven't been awful, I just don't care for them overall. But, still, I do occasionally pick another one up...I suppose that means something.

Hell House is the story of a house that due (apparently) to the evil and perverse act...more
Bernard Schaffer
Hell House is absolutely the scariest thing I've ever read. That includes my divorce paperwork. So, so good. Surprisingly, the formatting of the Kindle edition sucks. There are multiple problems throughout the manuscript, the kind that I would raise holy hell over if they appeared in mine. If I would not settle for it, a master the likes of Mr. Matheson should not have to suffer them either.
I doubt the old man is actively monitoring how his books appear on Kindle (The guy's 85 years old, for Ch...more
Holy Hell House!!! This is easily one of the best haunted house books I have ever read!! It was unrelenting, every last page was filled with terror. This is my first time reading something by Richard Matheson and it certainly won't be my last. Hopefully his other books live up to this.
Two Scientists and a medium are assigned to stay at the Belasco house for a week to get a large monetary sum but then strange and violent things begin to happen. Can they survive with their body and mind intact? Read Hell House for yourself and find out.

I was recommended to read this book for All Hallow's Read by author Eric Morse of the book Psychotic State and this was a pretty good and scary haunted house ghost story. I enjoyed reading this and held onto the edge of my seat until the very end...more
When physicist Dr. Lionel Barrett is offered $100,000 by an ailing but wealthy eccentric hoping he will prove the existence of the afterlife by staying in an old abandoned mansion with an evil past, the offer is just too much to resist. Dr. Barrett is a non-believer, but agrees to travel to Maine with the two appointed mediums, Florence and Ben (and wife Edith) with the intention of proving the exact opposite with his new invention, the Reversor.

Arrival at "HELL HOUSE" begins with the appearance

Rick Urban
I decided to read this book after a few horror writers listed it as the scariest book they'd ever read...well, fear, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, and this late in a life devoted to reading many horror writers and seeing many horror novels, this book seems like fairly thin gruel. At the heart of my dissatisfaction, though, is the obtuseness of the manifesting spirits that is the hallmark of so many ghost stories: while a spirit may be strong enough to lift heavy tables to the ceili...more
Once again, Richard Matheson shows why he's the man. I read this book after reading The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, and of the two, there is no doubt which I prefer. The Haunting of Hill House wasn't so much scary or creepy was it was atmospheric and interpretable. You can see anything you like in it. But Hell House takes that inspiration and runs with it, not only giving us those things, but more - creepiness, doubt, faith, hope, dread, manipulation, science and religion, and mor...more
Mitch Clem
A wealthy, dying man hires three people with varying degrees of supernatural expertise (a woman who can talk to the dead, a man who can physically interact with the dead, and a scientist who writes off everything supernatural he encounters with impossible, made-up science) to spend a week at a haunted house and find him conclusive, scientific evidence of whether or not life continues after death.

Overall the story is completely formulaic, at least by today's standards. Dinnerware flying around, g...more
It probably did not help my assessment of this novel having read both The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and I am Legend by Matheson in this year. Hell House is an inferior book to both of the previously mentioned classics. Yet it does have plenty of scares and terror. Matheson knows how to write tense moments and if the ending seems a little forced, it is a thrilling ride getting there. As far as haunted house tales goes, it still sits easily in the top ten.
Once again I learned how much of an influence Richard Matheson was on Stephen King.

Yet Matheson has his own brand of the macabre. His characters, while compelling, aren't as well-drawn or emotionally involving as King's (at least in this book). And his horror has a slower build and then explodes all over the page - kind of like Poe.

And talk about mixing disturbing horror with sexuality. That's a place where both King and Matheson hold crowns. Deeply disturbing - and yet I couldn't put it down...more
Heidi Ward
A legendary haunted house book, finally read. It's Richard-freaking-Matheson, right? A legend.

Didn't love it, TBH. It kept me turning the pages, sure. But it never surprised me. Well-written, and briskly paced, but a fairly standard haunted-house story otherwise. Hell House feels, weirdly, both dated and derivative.

I'm looking through that lens backward, obviously. Hell House must have been quite a shocker in 1971; some of the violent sexual elements alone surely got it hidden from the kiddies,...more
I had high hopes for this book. I've been wanting to read something of Matheson's for a long time and this was all that my library had so I grabbed it. I am somewhat disappointed with it. Maybe its because I've seen Rosemary's Baby and the thought of being raped by an entity, ghost, or whatever just doesn't scare me. Gross, yes. Frightening and realistic, nope. Maybe its because I've seen too many Horrorfest films by now. I just needed something more realistic. Also, what made this less of an en...more
I am sitting here in awe at how stupid, boring and ridiculous this book was. I looked forward to reading this so much. I love horror novels about haunted houses and Stephen King had said this is "the scariest haunted house novel ever written." WHAT?!
Scary???? No.
Scariest??? Ahahahahaahahahahahahabahahabababababahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
I am actually kind of pissed off. I feel like I wasted hours of my life that I'll never get back.
The beginning was really mysterious and creepy. A really...more
I'm a sucker for a haunted-house book, always optimistic that I'll be in for something as good as The Shining or The Haunting of Hill House. I'm a damn fool, because most books don't come close. This one has me ready to give up on the genre; it was that bad.

Matheson seems to have lifted most of his stuff straight from Shirley Jackson's novel: a parapsychologist and two sensitives agree to stay in a notorious haunted house in an effort to prove or disprove survival after death. Alas, he lacks Jac...more
In order to fully appreciate and enjoy this book, you should really try to read it prior to watching any of the movies made about it. Unfortunately I had seen “The Legend of Hell House” back many years ago, so I was familiar with what would happen. Although the book and the movie were different in parts, the truth behind the haunting was the same, which took some of the shock out of it for me.

Short Synopsis: An eccentric dying millionaire commissions a study to prove that there is life after dea...more
Lee Battersby
Stunningly atmospheric and genuinely unsettling take on the haunted house trope. Matheson's strength lies in creating deep imagery with a minimum of verbiage, and he's on best form here: his descriptions of Belasco House, the 'Hell House' of the title, are sparse and well-placed, giving us just enough detail to make each setting within the house an unnerving combination of gothic ruination and disarming domesticity; and likewise, the four protagonists and their demonic antagonists are the subjec...more
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 th...more
I can't believe Richard Matheson has flow below my radar for so long.

The Twilight Zone episode with William Shatner and the monster on the plane wing? That's his story.
Stir of Echoes, I Am Legend, the creepy doll that stalks you, the creepy tractor-trailer that stalks you (Duel) - all those stories are his. He's like Lovecraft - his stuff is part of pop culture, and you know of it whether you realize you do or not.

People have said that Hell House is the haunted house story. If you can only read...more
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Classic Trash: Hell House: Finished (Spoilers) 8 27 Jul 01, 2013 12:30PM  
Classic Trash: Hell House: In Progress (No Spoilers) 4 8 Jun 24, 2013 04:26PM  
Classic Trash: Book vs. Movie (The Legend of Hell House) 2 18 Jun 23, 2013 11:29AM  
That's no exuse: tsk tsk tsk 1 11 Dec 14, 2012 06:39AM  
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Born in Allendale, New Jersey to Norwegian immigrant parents, Matheson was raised in Brooklyn and graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1943. He then entered the military and spent World War II as an infantry soldier. In 1949 he earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and moved to California in 1951. He married in 1952 and has four children, three of w...more
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