Breebers (breebers) wrote in book_ghost,

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Review 3 - Hell House

His teeth are those of a carnivore. When he bares them in a smile, it gives one the impression of an animal snarling. His face is white, for he despises the sun, eschews the out-of-doors. He has astonishingly green eyes, which seem to possess and inner light of their own. His forehead is broad, his hair and short-trimmed beard jet black. Despite his handsomeness, his is a frightening visage, the face of some demon who has taken on human aspect.

No, it's not Dracula... it's an actual, human character in Richard Matheson's Hell House. I re-read it this past weekend. Took me two days. One, because I'd read it before. But really, because it's so engrossing and well-paced that you can fly through it, and yet still be fully involved in the story.
I think as far as flat-out scary, this book for me ranks right behind The Exorcist. A lot of Uncle Stevie's stuff scares me on a deep mental and emotional level, which The Exorcist did as well. But Hell House is (mostly) about the gotcha's and the realistic occurrences - well, realistic for anyone into ghost stories. Let's just say that very little that occurs in this book could be seen as 'out there' for anyone with a lot of paranormal explorations under their belt. The characters in this book are the most developed of any of Matheson's pieces I've read (granted, I have read any of the heartrending tales like Bid Time Return or What Dreams May Come), and the story is great. And it is seriously terrifying on a deep, primal level, as well as an intellectual one.

My one sadness about this book, is that when they made the movie, they set it in England, with British characters. And while there are some good performances (and a good script, seeing as how Matheson wrote that one himself), one of the great things about the book is that it's so thoroughly an American ghost story. I mean, for gosh sakes' one of the protagonists (and my personal hero) is named Benjamin Franklin Fischer.
In any case, both the movie and the book are good, but, as usual, the book is better. I just wish someone would make a more faithful movie adaptation...
Tags: adaptations, gothic lit, october 2008, reading

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