The Horror Honeys: Hell Hath No Fury

Hell Hath No Fury

A Supernatural Honey Retro Review by Suzanne

The Legend of Hell House (1973)

In a world where haunted house movies are a dime a dozen and usually pretty crappy, it's refreshing when you find one that doesn't make you want to jump in front of a train for wasting your time watching it.

The Belasco House, known as the "Mount Everest of haunted houses," once owned by a notorious sexual sadist, Emeric Belasco and the site of a massacre, is now being opened for investigation. Noted physicist, Lionel Barrett, is hired to prove or debunk the myth of the house. He brings along his wife, Edith, a mental medium, Florence Tanner, and a physical medium, Ben Fischer. Fisher is special because he is the lone survivor of a previous investigation. He knows the secrets of the house and Barrett intends to use him to his advantage.

Once inside, Tanner begins to feel the force of the house almost immediately. Barrett, being a man of science doesn't believe it's anything more than electromagnetic energy and he intends to clear the house using a special machine he developed. 

Physical manifestations result in attacks on everyone. Tanner and Edith Barrett are highly susceptible to the sprits in the house. Tanner is attacked by a possessed cat and then sexually by a spirit she believes to be Belasco's son. Edith, unhappy with the state of her marriage, has sexy sleepwalks and demands sex from Ben Fischer. Fisher just tries to keep himself closed off so he can just collect his money and walk away.

There is such a dark tone to this film from start to finish. Where a lot of films of this type have at least a moment of levity before the shit hits the fan, the happiness is sucked out of this film in the opening credits and it never seeps back in. This just lends to the overall doom. You never let your guard down or relax. With that said, this film doesn't rely on jump scares, just a dark foreboding keeps you wondering what awful thing is going to happen next.

Of course, it's the 70s and special effects being what they were, there is a moment of unintentional humor. That moment being the cat attack on Florence Tanner. It ranks up there with some of the worst animal attacks committed to celluloid. 

Starring veterans Clive Revill (Dr. Barrett), Pamela Franklin (Florence Tanner), Gayle Hunnicutt (Edith Barrett), and most notably Roddy McDowall (Fisher), it goes without saying the acting is superb. McDowell, who never disappoints, really shows his range here.

The screenplay was written by Richard Matheson and based on his novel. While not nearly as graphic as the source material, it originally received an X-rating when it was released in the UK. The book, itself, is based loosely on stories about Aleister Crowley and is a whole other ballgame when it comes to violence and sex. If you haven't read it, do yourself a favor and get on it.

Supernatural Honey verdict: 3.5 sexual deviant spirits out of 5