Hell House (novel)
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
Hell House is a novel by American novelist Richard Matheson, published in 1971. The novel has significant similarities to the earlier work The Haunting of Hill House (1959) by Shirley Jackson, though rendered with much more violence and sexual imagery.
The story concerns four people - Dr. Lionel Barrett, a physicist with an interest in parapsychology, his wife Edith, and two mediums (Florence Tanner, a Spiritualist and mental medium, and Benjamin Franklin Fischer, a physical medium) - who are hired by dying millionaire William Reinhardt Deutsch to investigate the possibility of life after death. To do so, they must enter the infamous Belasco House in Maine, regarded as the most haunted house in the world. The house is called "Hell House" due to the horrible acts of blasphemy and perversion that occurred there under the silent influence and supervision of Emeric Belasco. Fischer is the only survivor of a failed investigation attempt thirty years earlier. The novel combines supernatural horror with mystery as the researchers attempt to investigate the haunting of the house while their sanity is subtly undermined by its sinister supernatural influence.
During the investigation, various influences begin to affect each character's personal weaknesses: Florence through her belief in Spiritualism and her over-eagerness to rid the house of its evil; Dr. Barrett through his almost-arrogant disbelief in/disregard for Spiritualism, his belief in science, and his debilitated physical condition (having suffered from polio when young); Edith through her personal fears, insecurities and pent-up desires; and Fischer through his deliberate inaction (which he calls "caution"). Hell House's potency comes from its apparent ability to corrupt those who enter its walls, before bringing about their destruction, both mental and physical.
The story was adapted as a comic book mini-series, Richard Matheson's Hell House, written by Ian Edginton, with art by Simon Fraser. It was published in 2004 by IDW Publishing and collected as a trade paperback in 2008 (ISBN 1600102638).
There was also an unauthorized version of the story in Marvel Comics' Werewolf by Night, written by Doug Moench, in which Emeric Belasco was renamed Belaric Marcosa.