Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Scary Movie Month 2015 Day 27: The House That Dripped Blood

The House That Dripped Blood 

Another reader request, this one from my friend Nicky who is a straight-up horror authority and often knows my tastes better than I do. She knows I love anthologies so she recommended this one from Amicus, the studio behind my favorite anthologies Tales from the Crypt (1972) and The Vault of Horror (1973). This is a bit different from those in structure in that all four of the stories here (plus the framing story) take place in the same location, a house that has seen its share of horror over the years. Also, while Crypt and Vault were both based on EC Comics stories, these tales are all based on Robert Bloch stories, with the man himself adapting them for the screen.

It's not quite as consistent as the EC movies, and the twists are a bit more predictable, but the stories are entertaining and feature a few standout performances by the likes of Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Denholm Elliott, Jon Pertwee, and Joss "Diplomatic Immunity" Ackland. It starts off strong with probably the best story in the bunch, featuring Elliott as a writer who is haunted by his own murderous creation (shades of I, Madman and Martin Scorsese's episode of Amazing Stories, "Mirror, Mirror," both of which are things I love). It's a scary concept effectively executed.

The next two stories are a bit weaker, but there aren't any in the movie I'd call bad. One concerns Cushing and Ackland as friends who become obsessed with a waxwork that resembles a woman from their past, and the next features Lee as an abusive father whose young daughter turns to the supernatural for revenge. Both follow somewhat predictable beats but they also both have moments that work. 

Things pick up again in the final story, with Pertwee (who was playing Doctor Who at the time as well) starring as a horror film star whose costume cape turns its wearer into an actual vampire. It helps that this segment also features the luminous Ingrid Pitt, who is welcome to bite my neck any time she wishes. 

While none of the stories are quite as effective or memorable (or scary) as those in Crypt and Vault, this is still a better-than-average anthology and worth checking out if you're into that kind of thing. What it's really missing is the wicked streak of dark humor that permeates the EC movies, it takes itself just a tad too seriously, but that's not enough to sink it completely. Amicus produced such high quality movies that even their weaker efforts tended to be worth seeing, and this is no exception. If it sounds like I'm being hard on it, it's only because some of their other work is so strong that it makes for a pretty high bar to clear.

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