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Hell House

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  43,885 ratings  ·  3,231 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
Hardcover, 301 pages
Published July 1st 2004 by Severn House Publishers (first published 1971)
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Labyrinth Rossiter I just love the question, and it's a valid one. I don't know what it is about human nature, but an entire house full of people can experience graphic …moreI just love the question, and it's a valid one. I don't know what it is about human nature, but an entire house full of people can experience graphic deaths, and I can deal, but if the cat or dog dies, I'm seriously disturbed. LOL.(less)
Elyse Having just finished The Haunting of Hill House and reading Hell House last week, they are not the same at all. Yes, they both have haunted houses and…moreHaving just finished The Haunting of Hill House and reading Hell House last week, they are not the same at all. Yes, they both have haunted houses and people who go to investigate the hauntings. That is where similarities end. Hill House is more a psychological horror, like The Yellow Wallpaper, whereas Hell House is more physical horror, all around horror. A lot more happens in Hell House. Gory, violent, tragic horror. That being said, I liked Hell House better than The Haunting of Hill House.(less)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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 ·  43,885 ratings  ·  3,231 reviews

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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 (not counting Rod Serling) 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
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Hell House is the sexually awkward tale of a haunted house that can't even bother to be haunted until the book is nearly over.

Dr. Barrett has been hired by a wealthy, dying man to investigate one of the most haunted houses known to man: Hell House. Along with his wife and two professional mediums, Dr. Barrett packs up his scientific gear and embarks to the long-abandoned house to settle the question onc
Johann (jobis89)
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"As he crossed the entry hall, he had the feeling that the house was swallowing him alive."

Hell House is basically The Haunting of Hill House on steroids. Both books centre around four characters who stay in a haunted house to try to investigate what is happening. We have Doctor Barrett, who’s intention is to prove his theory - he also brings his wife along cos she just can’t bear to be left alone... And then we have two mediums - one of which is Fischer, the only survivor of a failed investigat
Jen - The Tolkien Gal
Dec 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
One day, a young woman, who had crisply turned 18 and was fresh out of school, explored the horror genre while walking around an abandoned building.

She was on a trip with her family to visit a lovely area with beautiful trees, fresh grass and rain. And yet, despite the large area, we were the only family there. It was so....empty - so silent. And so when I wasn't reading I explored the derelict houses, the rusty play area and the lovely forest.

And one day I settled down on a bench outside and o
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“I am certain you will find your stay here most illuminating…It is regrettable I cannot be here with you…All your needs have been provided for…Nothing has been overlooked. Go where you will, and do what you will – these are the cardinal precepts of my home. Feel free to function as you choose. There are no responsibilities, no rules. ‘Each to his own device’ shall be the only standard here. May you find the answer that you seek. It is here, I promise you.”
- Emeric Belasco in Richard Matheson’s H
Sadie Hartmann
Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Matheson created one of the most brain-freezingly frightening haunted house novels of the 20th century in HELL HOUSE." - Stephen King


I've had this book on my list of horror classics for so long but I was really just waiting for the right edition. I don't like reading classic horror in a modern re-release format. I want a beat-up, mangled, smelly old paperback that's been read and handled at least a hundred times.

I finally found
Welcome to Hell House and be prepared to be scared!

Would you enter Hell House for a sum of $100,000? Dr. Barrett a physicist along with two mediums are offered the chance to enter the house in the sum of $100,000 each to see what they can find in terms of a possible haunting.

Dr. Barrett not only takes the mediums with him, but he ends up taking his wife along as she didn't want to be left alone as he was going to be gone a few days.

Hell House has been closed down since 1949 as seedy and despica
Dirk Grobbelaar
Feb 08, 2013 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
Apr 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Edward Lorn
Oct 02, 2015 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
Oct 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Bought during Audible's $2.99 sale (10/13/17)! . It's more now, sorry about that.

A rich guy offers to pay a group of people to stay a few nights in a haunted house to prove there is life after death. All previous attempts to do such a stupid thing at this particular house have ended very badly for the suckers brave or stupid or hard-up enough to have a sleep-over. It’s no different this time around.

I read this book closely on the heels of finishing up Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill Hous
Oct 18, 2012 rated it did not like it
Sorry, I know this is a classic haunted house novel. But, it was terrible. It was offensive, lurid. I read horror novels frequently as a young adult. I still read King, Koontz, John Saul and sometimes Bentley Little. But, this was just disgusting. Then after putting me through all that crap, the ending was incredibly anti- climatic. I only picked this one out because I was in the mood for a good haunted house or ghost story to read during the month of October for Halloween. I really wish I hadn' ...more
Dec 18, 2011 rated it liked it
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.

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 06, 2013 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

I loved this book the 2nd time around just as much as the first time I read it. it's great, intense, horrific and just awesome. once you step into Hell House, it's over. merely puppets. if you like horror and haven't read this book, I don't know what your waiting for!!

the 3rd re-read: it's still just as great.
A classic ghost story written by an author that was before his time. This gruesome thriller was made even better with the added bonus of being narrated by the great Roy Porter. A fantastic, spooky story to listen to around Halloween.
Aug 31, 2007 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
I absolutely love the early 70's movie version of this book, The Legend of Hell House with Roddy McDowell. But I never read the book it was based on. Following the spirit of my challenge to myself this year to read more books that I've always wanted to read but never have....I decided to delve into the evil that is Hell House. I have to admit that I saw the actors from the movie in my head as I read this story. I'm not sure I like the mixing of so much cheesy horror with what might have been a g ...more
Mar 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-novel, horror
"Hell House" by Richard Matheson (of "I am Legend" fame) reminded me a lot "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson. Where that one shares its horror style with Lovecraft, this tale feels more a Stephen King story.

A dying millionaire wants to prove in the existence of an afterlife. He hires 3 people- a physicist, accompanied by his wife who is the 4th member, a spiritual medium and the lone survivor of the last expedition. Hell House had 2 previous "expeditions" where both parties met wit
Mar 18, 2012 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
Ashley Daviau
Oct 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My main thought after finishing this is OH FUCK YES. If that doesn’t tell you how damn good it was then I don’t know what will. This right here is what I crave when I pick up a haunted house story. It was brutal and awful and I absolutely revelled in every single second of it. Could I have been a past resident of Hell House in its glory days?! Who knows! Actually most definitely not because while I like reading about disturbing things I don’t want to experience them. Kidding aside, this is one h ...more
Pantelis Andreou
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a creepy book.. takes the premise of haunting of hill house and makes it a hundred times more terrifying.. even if i wasn’t that much invested into the characters
May 21, 2012 rated it did not like it
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 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Reading it again three years later I've added two stars. I was thrown the first time by a ludicrous reveal at the very, very end. But knowing it was coming allowed me to enjoy the fun of this book, one of the two best haunted house books ever written, along with Shirley Jackson's "Haunting of Hill House." The book is fantastic until that silly head-scratcher at the end (it's in the movie too) which on second reading doesn't at all negate the positives. The film version doesn't begin to capture t ...more
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror

I was looking forward to reading this book as I have enjoyed reading Richard Matheson books in the past.

But this did not live up to me expectations.

This was a strange mix of supernatural horror, pseudo science all tied together with some very awkward erotica.

When I think of other horror stories from the 60s and 70s like Ira Levin’s ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and Peter Bloch’s ‘Psycho’ that left me breathless, this did not.

Four people are employed to enter Hell House and discover the source of the horror
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great classic haunted house story, perfect as a Halloween read! Ultimately a clever idea and a solid resolution.
Peter Monn
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was just straight up strange. Made me very uncomfortable. Check out my full review on my booktube channel at ...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
Jun 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes it's nice to just read a really good horror book. I think besides a couple of flow problems and the story taking a while to get going, there is a reason why this one is a classic.

Taking place in 1970, a man named William Deutsch wants to investigate the possibility of life after death. He hires four people to go and investigate the infamous Belasco house in Maine.

The four people who go to investigate are: Dr. Lionel Barrett, a physicist and his wife Edith. The two other people are Flo
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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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Genres can be defined by what's waiting around the corner. In a romance book, it's happily ever after; in a mystery novel, it's the...
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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?” 11 likes
“There were no servants to maintain the house; they were indistinguishable from the guests by then.” 1 likes
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