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Eerie Haunted House Anthology From Amicus Productions,
This review is from: The House That Dripped Blood  [DVD] (DVD)
"The House That Dripped Blood", has always been my absolute favourite of the rich output of horror anthologies that Amicus Productions turned out in the 1960's and early 1970's. Often mistaken for Hammer Studios productions because of the frequent crossover of casts and similiar look, Amicus' speciality were these multi story horror tales tied together by a framing story. Here the story revolves around a suitably creepy old house in the countryside just outside London that seems to have a strange effect on its succession of occupants. The framing story of this piece concerns the mysterious disappearance of the latest tenant, famed horror movie actor Paul Henderson (Jon Pertwee)who was renting the house while shooting his latest horror epic "Curse of the Bloodsuckers", and it revolves around the police investigation carried out by Scotland Yard's Det. Insp. Holloway (John Bennett). Along the way the inspector is introduced to the eerie history of the house and the strange fate of each of its occupants. Four excellent stories are told in flashback and each is highly entertaining in it's own unique way with great atmosphere, first rate casts and with themes including deranged stranglers, haunted wax museums, witchcraft and vampires. In short it is a horror fans smorgasbord sure to entertain.
Story One is "Method for Murder", and revolves around famed murder mystery writer Charles Hillyer (Denholm Elliot), who during a period of acute writers block takes up residence in the house with his wife Alice. Charles creates a sinister main character in his new novel called Dominic who is a deranged strangler who laughs out loud as he murders his victims. As the novel progresses Charles begins to question his sanity as he actually begins seeing Dominic in the house or just outside the window. Is Dominic real? Or is Charles going insane? All is revealed in the eerie twist at the finale.
Story Two is "Waxworks", and stars the great Peter Cushing as retired Stockbroker Philip Grayson who takes out a lease on the house to get away from the fast life and many painful memories in London. While visiting the local village he comes across an old wax museum and to his horror finds one of the wax exhibits depicting Salome is an exact likeness of his old lost love. Visited by old friend Neville (Joss Ackland), Philip finds his friend also drawn to the wax figure. The museums strange proprietor (Woolfe Morris) relates the sinister story behind the wax figure and the hold she has on men. After Neville goes missing after visiting the museum Philip learns to his own detriment the deadly secret of the waxworks museum.
Story Three is the very eerie "Sweets to the Sweet, which finds widower John Reid (Christopher Lee) and his seemingly angelic young daughter Jane (Chloe Franks) moving into the house. John has an unexplained fear of his daughter and is intent on keeping her isolated from other children of her age. He hires a nanny/teacher Anne Norton (Nyree Dawn Porter),to tutor Jane at home. Anne dislikes John's parenting methods however first appearances in this case can be very deceptive as too late Anne discovers the real reason for John's overly harsh treatment of his daughter and the real cause of John's stabbing heart pains with sweet Jane not being everything she appears to be.
Story Four is "The Cloak", a real favourite of mine and finds the latest residence of this cursed house to be the famous horror actor Paul Henderson who to his own detriment finds himself attracted to the Gothic nature of the dwelling. He is currently starring in a dire horror effort titled "Curse of the Blood Suckers", and fed up with appearing in "Z" grade efforts goes in search of his own authentic vampire cloak. Unfortunately he finds it and soon begins to discover the sinister power of this mysterious cloak. His beautiful leading lady, the buxon Carla Lynde (Ingrid Pitt) also proves to be not as innocent as she first seems and eventually she reveals her true identity and real purpose to a terrified Paul who pays dearly for his quest for "authenticity" in his acting roles.
I personally love everything about this horror effort from its great title, to superbly spooky haunted house set to great cast all ideally cast in often surprisingly non typical roles. Written by the celebrated Robert Bloch who penned "Psycho", special mention must also be made of the wonderfully mood enchancing musical score courtesy of Michael Dress which adds so much to the individual stories. All four segments take a different approach in their storytelling and are of equal interest. Obviously with themes such as vampirism, witchcraft, voodoo and characters out of a book coming to life the proceedings are a splendid showcase for the talents involved. The cast are all given wonderful showcases for their talents in both the large and smaller roles and Christopher Lee has the distinction of suffering probably the most horrible death of any of the characters in the stories. Story four has strong elements of humour in it which surprisingly works well within it's vampire subject matter. Remembered mainly as television's Dr. Who, Jon Pertwee is perfectly cast as the bombastic actor Paul Henderson who's disappearance sparks off the investigation around this house that literally seems to drip blood on all who live there.
Amicus Productions were expert in creating these horror anthologies and excelled in their other big effort the next year in "Tales From The Crypt", however this effort rightly takes it's place in the haunted house hall of fame and is essential viewing for all horror buffs like myself that enjoy these multi story horror tales set in creepy mist shrouded old mansions hidden away from the outside world. Make sure you visit "The House That Dripped Blood", soon but remember your stay may be a short one so enjoy it while it lasts!
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Feb 2011 12:30:07 GMT
Christopher Nash says:
I love the fact that Pertwee looks almost exactly like he did in Dr Who. And when he's buying the cloak - its from Catweazle!
In reply to an earlier post on 22 Feb 2011 12:30:15 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 25 Mar 2011 21:40:35 GMT]
In reply to an earlier post on 25 Mar 2011 21:40:57 GMT
Simon Davis says:
Yes I always thought the same myself!!! I just loved Jon Pertwee in the "Cloak" segment, humour and horror combined and he teams so well with the late great Ingrid Pitt (May she rest in peace)
Posted on 24 Aug 2012 09:00:31 BDT
spot on review,great film as was amicus other multi-story films (vault of horror,asylem ect).wish they made more of this type of film.mr james ghost stories being released maybe worth a look,very good as well errie and atmospheric.
jon pertwee,s worzel gummidge buys his clock off the crowman.who would of thought.
In reply to an earlier post on 10 Sep 2012 01:23:51 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 Sep 2012 01:25:57 BDT
Simon Davis says:
Thank you Moonshine. Yes this film is one of my all time favourites. I too wish they had of made more of them. The modern anthology films (rare as they are) just can't compare with these terrific Amicus productions. "Asylum" is also a great film as well and another fav of mine is "Tales from the Crypt". That is a beautifully put together film with a great cast. I always start off my Christmas viewing with that one due to the first story being the great one dealing with Joan Collins murdering her husband on Christmas Eve and then falling victim herself to a psychotic Father Christmas! Love that story
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