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Hell House

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  22,262 Ratings  ·  1,300 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

Audio, 0 pages
Published January 1st 1999 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1971)
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Bill  Kerwin

For years I have been a fan of Richard Matheson, without ever becoming a dedicated reader of his fiction. I learned early that he was one of the two best writers for Twilight Zone—the other being Charles Beaumont—and this led me to look out for his short stories and novels and read them when they came my way. I particularly admired his chilling stories “Nightmare at 20,000 ft.” (Twilight Zone Shatner menaced by gremlin on plane), “Prey” (featuring a doll called “He Who Kills”), and the novels I
Dirk Grobbelaar
Nov 03, 2014 Dirk Grobbelaar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, books-i-own, d6

"Isn't it just another so-called haunted house?"
"I'm afraid it isn't. It's the Mount Everest of haunted houses."

The excesses depicted in the history of the Belasco House (and here you can list any blasphemy and perversion you can think of) make for morbidly fascinating reading in itself and sets the stage for this 1970s horror novel.

I was actually surprised at how grim this book gets. It’s much more explicit than contemporaries like Rosemary's Baby, which was published
Edward Lorn
Nov 10, 2015 Edward Lorn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've tried to read Hell House numerous times. The writing seemed a little too... simplistic, I guess would be the word, for my tastes. It's also, at times, annoyingly repetitive, and had my buddy Thomas Strömquist (sorry I still haven't figured out how to link to other people on this site) hadn't accepted my buddy read proposal, I probably wouldn't have ever finished it. I couldn't understand, for the life of me, why everyone suggested I read it. "It's a horror classic!" and "It's soooooooo scar ...more
One of those books that requires certain mind set to be fully absorbed. Almost perfectly captures sexual madness, glossing over the many various versions of it with not just physical but emotional perspective. Setting and characterization is stereotypical but one that most often works the best.
Dan Schwent
Aug 13, 2010 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: matheson
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
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.

Oct 17, 2015 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whoa, creepy, scary book.

This must be required reading for Wes Craven and Clive Barker and other horror movie directors. Published 6 years before The Shining, I also wonder how much this influenced Stephen King. Alas, I did not care for the ending.

Well written, imaginative, and innovative, Matheson again displays his power as a storyteller in this genre.

Oct 10, 2007 Dale rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Franco  Santos
Daniel, if you only knew how lovely are the realms which lie beyond this house. Would you keep yourself locked in a barren cell when all the beauties of the universe await you on the outside?

Buen libro. Un clásico de la literatura del terror. Se disfruta cada capítulo y tiene sus momentos escalofriantes. Ideal para pasar un rato agradable ya que es de fácil lectura, ameno y ligero. Los problemas radican en los personajes. Son muy planos, clichés: el típico escéptico amante de la ciencia, la muj
Mar 22, 2012 Maciek rated it really liked it  ·  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
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
I do love a good haunted house story. I'm always on the look-out, either for fictional accounts, or "real" books based on "real" experiences. I can't get enough of it.

But it's hard to find good ones.

I mostly enjoyed reading this. There are some problems with it that I can't quite get over, and telling myself "Well, it was the 70s" doesn't make me feel any better about it. Like the mansplaining. There was a lot of mansplaining and it made me angry.

But there are some great details in these pages t
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
Oct 24, 2011 Bill rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Thomas Strömquist
Buddy read with awesome buddy Edward Lorn. This one must've made waves in '71! I was quite surprised by the explicit narrative. I was fascinated by the vile and depraved history of the Belasco house, horrified to learn about the evil and malignant force waiting for the members of the investigative party we get to follow inside its walls, and disturbed by the brutal assaults that follows.

Characterization is really good; with quite small means we get to know each member of the cast and they feel a
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
Sep 27, 2012 Deb rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 19, 2011 Lou rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
⊱ Irena ⊰
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
Kelly Hager
May 10, 2010 Kelly Hager rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I don't like Richard Matheson very much. I Am Legend was entertaining enough and quite scary in parts, but Hell House was just weird. And based mostly on this and partly on I Am Legend, I'm going to guess that he had some sexual hangups. (Or maybe not.)

Hell House is about a group of people (scientist-type guy and his wife, medium and psychic who survived in the house the last time people went in) who are investigating the "Everest of haunted houses."

So what's the deal with this house? Apparently
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
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
Oct 21, 2014 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2fiction, horror, 1paper
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
Jul 21, 2014 Kristijan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Za Metisonov opus sam zainteresovan od romana "Ja sam legenda". Ono što je zajedničko za svaki njegov roman koji sam pročitao jeste to da me nikada nije razočarao. Ima tu ponekad nešto što može da se predvidi, ali generalno gledano, kraj ostaje nekako uvek u magli jer Metison može veoma lako da preokrene sve i iznenadi čitaoce.
Tako je i sa ovom knjigom. "Paklena kuća" je nalik na sve one priče, filmove, serije,... o ukletim kućama, ali ona je definitivno originalna na svoj način. I četiri glavna
DeAnna Knippling
I thought this was going to be a reread, but nope! I'd read something else in the vague past and thought it was Hell House. But it wasn't. I would have remembered this.

I listened to the audio version; the narrator does an excellent job. Two thumbs up.

As with other Matheson works, the pace is slow, almost hypnotically slow. You long for him to get to some kind of action, to stop fussing around and *do* something. Yet you can't put the book down. Then, as the plot progresses, you find that you've
Oct 12, 2014 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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

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
Nov 23, 2015 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 15, 2015 Gary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had remembered this book from the 70s , only recently, when someone told me they thought the cover art was great,and I was like...damn...I never got around to reading that one,and I wanted to buy a new horror novel to read this month leading up to I ordered it, it came,and I conquered. It read quick, because I was really hooked on's pretty gory,and disturbing...fucking loved

Read it, horror fan bitches! You won't be disappointed! Enjoy the ride!

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Horror Aficionados : Buddy Read: Hell House 5 27 21 hours, 20 min ago  
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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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“If you only knew the beauty which awaits you, Daniel. If you only knew how lovely are the realms which lie beyond this house. Would you keep yourself locked in a barren cell when all the beauties of the universe await you on the outside?” 4 likes
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