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Haunted Books to Movies: Hell House (1971)
Posted In: Ghost And Demons  6/6/12
By: Yona Williams

Richard Matheson wrote 'Hell House' in 1971, which was more than 10 years after the 'Haunting of Hill House', and the novel offers many similarities with the Shirley Jackson publication. In this article, you will learn more about the plot of the tale, as well as other Richard Matheson literary pieces that have been turned into films.

While 'Hell House' was similar to Shirley Jackson's novel, Matheson spun a tale that included much more violence and sexual imagery than the latter. The story centers on four people: a physicist who has an interest in parapsychology, his wife, and two mediums – one a Spiritualist and mental medium; the other a physical medium. All of the participants are hired by a dying millionaire named William Reinhardt Deutsch, who wishes to learn about the possibility of life after death.

In order to investigate his wish, they must stay at the Belasco House in Maine, which is dubbed the most haunted house in the world. The novel weaves horror and mystery into the plot, as the researchers investigate the house while trying to keep hold of their own sanity. There is a definite supernatural presence in the residence, which possesses a history of dark and sinister events and people.  
During their stay in the home, the premises start to prey on the personal weaknesses of the temporary occupants. The goal of the house is to destroy people by zeroing in on what will break down their mental and physical strength.  

'Hell House has been into a film called 'The Legend of Hell House,' which starred Roddy McDowall. The movie focused on a team of people who were sent to the residence to explore and unlock the mystery of the Hell House. A physicist, his wife, a young female psychic and the only survivor of a previous visit to the home dare to explore the property. The previous group went to the Hell House in an attempt to prove whether or not it was possible to survive after death. Those who went beforehand were killed or went mad. The team is expected to survive a full week while being isolated in Hell House.

Interestingly, Richard Matheson penned other pieces that were turned into movies, such as:

•    "A Stir of Echoes" (1958) – A movie called 'Stir of Echoes' was made in 1999 that starred Kevin Bacon from the plot offered by Matheson during the 1950s. The story centers on a man living a regular life, who sparks psychic abilities he never knew existed. He starts to hear the private thoughts of people around him and he's uncovering secrets he never wanted to learn. Eventually, the main character starts to experience a waking nightmare, where he starts to learn a strong message from beyond the grave.

•    I am Legend (1954) – The 'I am Legend' movie that starred Will Smith in 2007 was inspired by the horror fiction novel written by Matheson in 1954, which tackles the concept of the 'last man on earth.' His tale helped jumpstart the zombie genre and spread the possibility of an apocalypse happening due to disease. The novel also helped inspire the 'Night of the Living Dead' movie released in 1968.


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