Cinema: Quick Cuts

THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE owes more than a passing debt to Shirley Jackson's fine novel The Haunting of Hill House, and to the clammy film Robert Wise adapted from it in 1963. Both the plot and shocks here are similar, if not so forceful: a small, antagonistic group of researchers shut themselves up in an ominous old house to divine its dark secrets. The house preys on the various psychological weaknesses of the investigators, enlarging their hidden personal frailties into flaws that are often fatal.

The Hell House researchers are a supercilious physical scientist (Clive Revill), his sexually repressed wife...

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