October 5th, 2015
|07:21 pm - 31 Days of Halloween: The House that Dripped Blood|
When I watch a movie, I tend to remember where I was and who I was with, and since I remember watching The House that Dripped Blood with my father in the house I grew up in while a good friend of my mom's was living with them temporarily, I can tell you that I saw it in 2004. I was not impressed, and my dad--who really isn't fond of horror at all--was probably even less happy with it.
Still, the movie has an exceptional cast, which is why I allowed Amazon Prime to trick me into giving it another viewing this evening. I continue to be unimpressed. If I dislike a movie, I often find that I enjoy it more on my second viewing, once my expectations have been adjusted, but that was not the case tonight.
The House that Dripped Blood contains a series of vaguely interconnected shorts, à la Heavy Metal or Creepshow*. It was made in 1971 by a British studio called Amicus Productions which cranked out several of these anthology-style horror films in the '60s and '70s. Their productions were somewhat cheaper and more modern-looking than those made by Hammer, but it's easy to confuse the two because they shared so many of the same actors and other talent.
Anyway, The House that Dripped Blood does not, in fact, drip blood. It's an estate in the country which was recently purchased by the actor Paul Henderson. Mr. Henderson has disappeared, so Scotland Yard have sent a police detective to look into the matter. The estate agent tells him that the disappearance is only the latest in litany of violent and horrific incidents at the house, which include:
I understand that I haven't given you much to go on, but if I asked you to guess how each of these stories will play out, I'm sure you'd get at least two of them correctly. I suppose that's really my problem with this movie; it contains very few surprises, and mostly just plods forward down well-beaten paths. The Internet says that it was a modest success in the UK, but for the purpose of perspective, a movie that opens at #1 and drops to #17 in its second week can be a modest success under the right circumstances.
- "Method for Murder", in which an author played by Denholm Elliott (better known, I think, as Marcus Brody from the Indiana Jones movies) is menaced in real life by the psychopath he's created for his next novel,
- "Waxworks", in which Peter Cushing (Grand Moff Tarkin from Star Wars: A New Hope) and Joss Ackland (De Nomolos from Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey) discover a dummy in a wax museum that exactly resembles a woman whose affections they both pursued many years ago,
- "Sweets to the Sweet", in which a widower played by Christopher Lee (Christopher Lee from everything Christopher Lee was in) suspects his young daugher of witchcraft--just like her late mother, and
- "The Cloak", in which Jon Pertwee (the third Doctor) plays Paul Henderson, an effete horror actor who inherits strange powers from the antique cloak he'll be wearing in his next movie.
The only segment I can recommend is "The Cloak", mostly because Jon Pertwee and Ingrid Pitt (the UK's go-to actress for any role that required a low-cut top in the '60s and '70s) spend a lot of time biting the hand that feeds them. "There's no realism," moans Pertwee of modern horror movies. "Not like the old ones, the great ones... Frankenstein, Phantom of the Opera, Dracula--the one with Bela Lugosi, of course, not this new fellow." The new fellow is obviously Christopher Lee, who probably enjoyed a chuckle over that line at his own expense. Unfortunately, it's not good enough to make this film required watching. Also, for what it's worth, Vincent Price had to turn down the role of Paul Henderson because of other commitments. I'd have liked to see him in this role, but Pertwee does fine.
For what it's worth, Amicus made some much better anthology movies. I recommend From Beyond the Grave, but it's not available to stream anywhere for free. As I said, The House that Dripped Blood is available on Amazon Prime, but a search for the trailer turned up the whole movie on YouTube which is probably not legal. Get it while it lasts, I guess.
* I don't think I'm serious about this, but I've always thought that if I really ran out of time to do some sort of write-up, I could always post "more like Crapshow 3." as a review of Creepshow 3, and call it a night.
** Don't bother looking for a double-asterisk up there--there isn't one. I just wanted to mention that Tommy Wiseau (star of The Room) appeared in something called The House that Drips Blood on Alex which is a good title, even if it's not a good film. You can probably find it online.