Listen free for 30 days

1 credit a month, good for any title to download and keep.
The Plus Catalogue—listen all you want to thousands of Audible Originals, podcasts, and audiobooks.
$14.95 a month plus applicable taxes after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Hell House cover art

Hell House

Written by: Richard Matheson
Narrated by: Ray Porter
Try for $0.00

$14.95 a month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Buy Now for $24.53

Buy Now for $24.53

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Tax where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

For over 20 years, Belasco House has stood empty. Regarded as the Mt. Everest of haunted houses, its shadowed walls have witnessed scenes of unimaginable horror and depravity. All previous attempts to probe its mysteries have ended in murder, suicide, or insanity.

But now, a new investigation has been launched, bringing four strangers to Belasco House in search of the ultimate secrets of life and death. A wealthy publisher, brooding over his impending death, has paid a physicist and two mediums to establish the facts of life after death once and for all. For one night, they will investigate the Belasco House and learn exactly why the townsfolk refer to it as the Hell House.

Hell House, which inspired the 1973 film The Legend of Hell House, is Matheson's most frightening and shocking book, and an acknowledged classic of the genre.

©1999 Richard Matheson (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Hell House

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    53
  • 4 Stars
    23
  • 3 Stars
    13
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    3
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    61
  • 4 Stars
    13
  • 3 Stars
    8
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    2
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    46
  • 4 Stars
    19
  • 3 Stars
    10
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    6

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Mostly just gross and unsettling

There's a lot of rape and sexual assault. In fact that is pretty much all there is. The whole book is just a bragge of sexual assault scenes written in a pretty fetishistic manner. There isn't really much story beyond to prop up this content. There's noting wrong with a few sex scenes in books or showing assault but in this book there just isn't enough of anything else to make it interesting, or enjoyable, or thrilling.

The narrator has a pleasant voice and mostly did a good job except the female characters came out so whiny that it was pretty hard to listen to.

The characters were mostly unlikable and they had no camaraderie which is usually pretty essential. If you compare it to Shirley Jacksons "Haunting of Hill House," which is a pretty similar premise, you really notice how much this book is lacking and how much it could have benefitted from some likeable characters and endearing moments. You might actually care what happens to them.

Honestly if this is what I was looking for in a book I just would have picked up some fetish material. This isn't scary, it wasn't entertaining. Just not worth the time.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Disturbingly good!

I thoroughly enjoyed this story.. it was unexpectedly dark and and pretty graphic. The setting and some of the writing style is dated, but didn't hinder my enjoyment of the story overall. There are parts that made me pull faces in disgust or horror, or make goosebumps show up on my arms, which I loved, because it was partly the narrator's effects and partly the story, and I love nothing more than a good story that makes me physically react. I would often have to reset my sleep timer because I just wanted to keep listening!

The narrator is excellent, and really makes the dialogue come alive. There's never any question as to who is talking, and he can do the scary voices quite well. I am picky with narration, but I'd listen to anything by Ray Porter any day.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Masterpiece!

By far the best book I have read.
The storyline and characters fit together so perfectly, and the narration done by Ray Porter was absolutely superb.
I highly recommend this book

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A superb ghost story

Great story. Lots of dark and adult themes throughout. Definitely a story written in a different time and with different priorities. A creepy blast. Going to listen to Hill House now!!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Porter delivers a CRACKER!

it's brilliant, every moment. don't fall asleep with it on tho, it gets intense lol

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Stephen King is right. Genuinely Scary

The King of Horror once pronounced this novel the best haunted house story ever written. He was correct. It definitely follows a formula - strangers paid by a dying eccentric man to stay in a creepy setting possessed by evil spirits - but Richard Matheson is a master at it. The characters are interesting (flawed and often unlikable), the setting is genuinely disturbing, and the atmosphere sets the reader on edge. The inexplicable episodes of ghostly activity are shocking and legitimately spooky. This book was written 50 years ago but feels like it could have taken place this summer. The writing and dialogue is a little immature, it is oversexualized at points - and it would be fair to say it is filled with clichés - but it is definitely unsettling. It's also fair to say it helped create those clichés in the first place. The book must have been astounding in 1971, as it is still engrossing now. A true masterpiece of horror.

Ray Porter delivers a masterful reading. His performance is reserved but full of emotion.

This trope-establishing novel is worth 8.5 stars out of 10.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Awful narration

The story was good for what it is but the narration is absolutely cringe worthy. I had a hard time getting through this and taking it seriously. The narrator's story telling is great, but when it comes to voicing the women and the evil spirits dialogue it's just horrible. I really didn't want to keep listening but I don't like to leave things unfinished. I wish I would have read the physical copy myself.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Relies on rape and homophobia to drive the horror.

This is my first negative review.

I would like to begin by saying that Ray Porter read the book well, he is absolved from blame in this.

But the book relies on tawdry use of rape and homophobia to drive the horror. The rape elements come across as more gross and sensationalist than anything else, and the homophobia just comes across as awkward and is only frightening if you are homophobic.
This book falls in line with the piles of moralizing horror wherein people are punished for moral lapses (as defined by the author).

The ultimate reveal fell utterly flat. It felt like we were given an obvious answer to a question we never asked.

In the past I have never understood when women complain about how male writers describe women. But Oh. My. Gosh! I clearly have just been lucky in my book choices! This book had my eye’s rolling into the roof with the hyper-sexualized descriptions of women (and, notably, never men). Except for the possibly-lesbian woman who was described as looking very masculine - so he didn’t miss the opportunity to feed into those tired stereotypes.

He also REALLY overused the word “hissing.”

In short, this book felt much more gross than it felt frightening.

I agree with a reviewer on Goodreads that this book reads more like a perverse straight male fantasy than a work of horror.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

3 Star Appeal

I wasn't impressed nor was I disappointed. The narrators female voices were scarier than the story line. Norman Bates vibes.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Awfully written.

This book reads like it was written by a horny 16 year old boy who knows nothing about women. It was actually laughable in some parts. The best thing to ever come of it was the spoof they did of it in Scary Movie 2. I wish I could somehow get these hours back that I spent listening to this.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Phebe
  • Phebe
  • 2012-08-13

Hell House is like Hill House, but fiercer

Checking the dates of publication to be sure I was right that Hell House is a sort of pastiche or homage or even plagarism of "The Haunting of Hill House," I saw this opening sentence in Wikipedia that says it all:

"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."

He beefed it up, basically. You could even say coarsened it and simplified it --- but in fact both novels are quite good. I suppose you could call it a remake! Jackson's "The Haunting of Hill House" is of course much scarier, because it deals with madness and human fragility as well as whatever haunts Hill House, and Audible has an excellent reading of it. Matheson uses the same set-up, the same basic scene and the same four basic characters -- six, really, counting the two cook/caretakers.

Shirley Jackson achieves true horror. Chilling, ghastly, oh-no horror, with never an indelicate word or scene. Its opening and closing paragraphs are famous. Matheson's Hell House is more conventional and less truly terrifying, despite a lot of Sturm und Drang. It is the Matheson book that was made into a great movie, "The Legend of Hell House," one of the scariest movies ever made, I thought as a girl.

The reading of this novel by Ray Porter is excellent. There are a lot of scary emotional scenes and the reader does well with them, and with character differentiation. I think both books are well worth listening to, for themselves and for the really instructive differences.

148 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Lesley
  • Lesley
  • 2008-06-17

Got scary?

Richard Matheson was an underrated novelist. He wrote fast-paced works, visual and visceral, full of philosophical questions and characters facing the unknown.

My favorite is "I Am Legend," but "Hell House" turned out to be a very exciting and scary read. Four people enter a haunted house to prove to a millionaire that there's life after death, or that there isn't. Like all good haunted houses, Hell House is a character in itself. It has everything--creaking rocking chairs, deserted rooms, a Satanist chapel, awful smells.

There are other surprises, mostly of the psychosexual variety, as each of the characters faces fear, insecurity, and blinding personal shame. Matheson describes all of this very well, sometimes in terms that were more explicit than I had expected. This book is definitely rated R, or possibly NC-17--no cute lil ghosts in white sheets here.

But there are lots of good scares, and that's what I go to a haunted house book for. Unlike Matheson's other works, this one had slow spots and was a bit repetetive in places. The narrator did probably the best job out of any book I've listened to from Audible--seriously, with two male and two female voices, and various ghosts, I always knew who was speaking.

Recommended for mature ghost-story lovers.

139 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jim "The Impatient"
  • Jim "The Impatient"
  • 2010-12-24

Juvenal

I guess I am getting too old for this type of book. I liked Matheson's (I am Legend and The Shrinking Man.) This book I could not wait to finish. I did not care about the characters and the story was silly. I liked Shirley Jackson's (The Haunting Of Hill House) better. The characters and the house were more interesting. Matheson could have used better developed characters and Jackson could have used more sex.

65 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Barry S. Sharpnack
  • Barry S. Sharpnack
  • 2008-06-07

Excellent horror novel, classic ghost story

If you like horror novels like I do, you're probably disappointed with the appalling lack of truly scary stories on the market these days. It seems all the horror novelists of the past have gone "soft" (Stephen King, Peter Straub, etc.)
"Hell House", while written a long time ago, is still a very frightening novel, and one of the best ghost stories I've read.
The graphic descriptions of the house and the events inside are truly scary. There are several other books that have been written along the same theme (several people trapped inside a haunted house), but this book seems to be more intelligent than the others.
A very smart listen, and the narrator performed well, making good distinctions between male and female voices, even the voices of the ghosts were well done.
This book was a nice surprise and a good listen, certainly more than I was expecting.

31 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Matthew Jacobson
  • Matthew Jacobson
  • 2015-07-27

It's repulsive -- to great effect!

Where does Hell House rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is definitely one of my top 10. The story is gruesome and at times sacrilegious, and it's nice to get into a story that isn't afraid to pull punches. Because every lurid detail is explained, the horror is that much more effective.

What other book might you compare Hell House to and why?

The only one that comes to mind immediately is "The Haunting of Hill House." However, "Hill House" doesn't so much scare as it does intrigue. "Hell House," on the other hand, paints some pretty horrific pictures.

What about Ray Porter’s performance did you like?

He performed without having to do any silly voices, a bad habit among many narrators that immediately takes me out of the story.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

I can't for the life of me think of a tag line. But, I would definitely like to see an adaptation of this film beyond the one starring Roddy Mcdowall. I'd love to see a film that keeps all the gruesome scenes and disturbing images.

Any additional comments?

Richard Matheson is a master storyteller. He created a house that I personally want to explore.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for caitlyn
  • caitlyn
  • 2014-07-06

Worst Book Ever

This was seriously the worst and most disgusting book I have ever listened too.I actually ended up returning it, but wanted to give others a heads up.

I like scary stories, and I am not squeamish at all. This book just went WAY too far though. Was it scary, at times? Yes. There were definitely "jump out at you" moments consistently, which would have been good if the content hadn't been so perverted. That is the only way I can truly describe this book, perverted.

I get that sometimes, sex is mixed in with violence, that is part of the genre. But as I said, this book took it way too far. I feel like none of the reviews or descriptions I read prepared me for it. The Hell House is a house of complete debauchery, and the haunting reflect that. I ended up skipping over long, drawn out rape scenes (rape is never sexy).

On top of all that, the characters are pretty shallow and stupid. They continue repeating the same thoughts over and over, and there is not really any character development or even plot development. When I wasn't wanting to fast forward, I was yawning. Lastly, the narration (which was done by Ray Porter, who I really liked in Water for Elephants) was very jarring. He switches off between whispers and shouting so much that I would find myself jumping, not because of the plot of the story, but because suddenly someone is shouting in my ear.

I would not recommend this book, ever, to anyone. It sucked.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Wild Wise Woman
  • Wild Wise Woman
  • 2012-05-18

Disappointing

I was sadly disappointed in this book, as Matheson is one of my favorite writers. I listen to the Audible recording of "Stir of Echoes" about once a year, and have read most of his works. This book, particularly as I hadn't read it before, is weirdly derivative. Anyone who knows Shirley Jackson's "The Haunting of Hill House", which is almost a decade older, can't help but see the screaming similarities, and anyone who's read "The Shining", which came out nearly a decade after "Hell House", will see that Stephen King took many of the poorly-fleshed out ideas of "HH" and explored them more richly. The characters in "HH" are unoriginal and misogynistic, considering it was 1971 and not 1951. I have no complaints about the reader, but overall I thought the story had been done to death myriad times since the Civil War, and this version does not stand on its own merits.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jeffrey veals
  • Jeffrey veals
  • 2016-07-14

Author: Ahead of his Time

What did you love best about Hell House?

I thought the story was well-crafted and would fit in really well with the horror books and movies of today.

Which scene was your favorite?

I'd say the scene where Lionel first used Florence to see what would happen when she became aware of her power as a mental medium. It started the story off with this odd situation and was rounded out at the end.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

My main reaction may not have been extreme, but it was pleasant. The reaction I had was just plain awe at Matheson's ability as a writer. And, the fact that these books were written so long ago, just affirms the awe that I have for this book and the author altogether.

Any additional comments?

This is my general review of 'Hell House' by Richard Matheson:
One sentence would be the best to describe the author of Hell House: Ahead of his time. This book, as well as I am Legend, both capture something so remarkable that I think I'm reading books from the last ten years. When I first realized these books were published from 1950's-1970's, I'm just shocked.

Normally, with horror books and movies, I like cheesy, stupid stuff. This was a horror book that was smart, witty, scary, brilliant, and incredibly fun to read. There are moments of perverse situations, so I would say it'd be rated R in a theater; but for anyone who wants a scary, smart ride, this is the perfect book.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for nitza
  • nitza
  • 2012-01-02

Great

Where does Hell House rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Top 10

What did you like best about this story?

It was scary yet had some funny moments where I laughed out loud

Any additional comments?

Narrator was excellent

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Kendall
  • Kendall
  • 2008-05-27

Highly Enjoyable!

Richard Matheson is one of my favorite authors. Listening was even better. The narrator was great, the story though a bit old was still creepy. Highly recommended if you love a good ghost story.

12 people found this helpful