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THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (1971)
Directed by Peter Duffell
Written by Robert Bloch
Starring John Bryans, John Bennett, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Nyree Dawn Porter, Denholm Elliott, Jon Pertwee, Joanna Dunham, Joss Ackland, Geoffrey Bayldon, Hugh Manning, Robert Lang, Richard Coe, Wolfe Morris, Jonathan Lynn, John Malcolm, Winifred Sabine, Carleton Hobbs, Bernard Hopkins, Chloe Franks, Tom Adams, Ingrid Pitt
I wouldn’t call this anthology bone chilling. One or two of the chapters actually worked pretty well, but for the most part, THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD was more quaint than anything else. Framed around a detective investigating a house that seems to have a history of strange happenings occurring within its walls, at least this one tries to corral its stories together under one common theme.
“Method for Murder” is the first story, focusing on a horror writer (played by Denholm Elliott) who comes to the mansion for murderous inspiration. After creating a creepy strangler and a diabolical story around it. But when the writer begins seeing the creeper in the shadows, he believes he is going mad. Or could his conniving wife have something to do with these strange apparitions? This one works well mostly due to the strange look of the strangler and some fine acting from Elliott.
Chapter two gives us “Sweets to the Sweet,” starring Christopher Lee. Playing an overbearing father who doesn’t allow his daughter to play with any toys, Lee as usual, offers up a commanding performance. The little girl playing his daughter (Chloe Franks) doles out most of the chills here. Franks’ giant evil eyes shoot daggers at her father every time he takes away her toys and behind those eyes is a wrath that is deadly. This was probably my favorite of the bunch because of Franks’ performance, but also because of the simple, but effective use of props to suggest more horrors than what is actually shown.
Peter Cushing and Joss Ackland star in “Waxworks,” a predictable, yet fun little yarn about a haunted wax museum housing a wax model that turns out to be the object of both actor’s desire. I don’t know if this short knows how odd it really is as both men fall in love and battle for an inanimate object shaped like a woman. Still, this one ends quickly with some wax heads that are pretty striking and accurately looking like some of the actors.
“The Cloak” rounds out the story rather goofily. The entire segment plays tongue in cheekily as an aging actor, known for playing a vampire in many films (this time played by DR. WHO’s John Pertwee, though this role seems made for Christopher Lee who most likely turned it down for being a bit too on the nose), attains a cloak that belonged to a real vampire. Compelled to drink blood, he actually bites one of his co-stars (Ingrid Pitt). I feel this one would have been better placed earlier in the film, possibly after the first one, as it just doesn’t pack the punch some of the other shorts have. Too comical and farce-y, this one just didn’t cut it for me despite Pitt’s heaving busoms that seem to be the central attraction the entire segment.
The film ends rather serendipitously, much like many anthologies of this sort, with a collection of monstrosities appearing in all of the segments making one last appearance. While this may give the film a final glimpse of the horrors that came before, it really takes away from the effect achieved in the segments themselves. THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD is not the best anthology, but it does feature some great older actors taking a stab at the horror genre. I’d say two out of the four segments are worth a viewing. Not a great average for a horror anthology, but there is a quaintness to this one that can’t be denied.
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