Betcha didn’t see that title coming, But Roddy happened to star in a couple of the very best horror films ever made. In addition to having a very long career that started as a child star, he starred in the greatest haunted house movie ever made.
The Legend of Hell House was scripted by the great Richard Matheson from his own novel. Fans of all of those ghosthunting shows will find the terminology and paranormal science that’s thrown around in the film quite familiar. In the movie, a team of paranormal researchers are hired to spend some time in “The Mount Everest of Haunted Houses.” There are very thinly veiled hints that they are staying in the late Aleister Crowley’s house. What follows is a wonderful ride of atmospheric suspense. There’s not a lot of blood or violence – just a lovely, old fashioned scare at the movies.
And you can say the same thing about the original Fright Night. It’s a Disney sort of vampire film about a teenaged William Ragsdale, who believes, quite correctly, that a vampire has moved in next door. He quickly enlists the aid of late-night TV horror host Roddy McDowall to help protect his family. In addition to a fine performance by McDowall, the film has Chris Sarandon, ably playing the vampiric neighbor.
Both films are pretty much PG rated and are a perfect antidote to the mean-spirited torture-based horror that we see so much of today in movies.