Director – Peter Duffell
Cast – Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Nyree Dawn Porter, Denholm Elliott, Jon Pertwee, Joanna Dunham, Joss Ackland, John Bennett, Geoffrey Bayldon, John Bryans, Hugh Manning, Robert Lang, Richard Coe, Wolfe Morris, Jonathan Lynn
Release Year – 1971
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Amicus Productions’ horror anthologies always prove to be a solid choice for me. The first to debut in the 1970s, The House That Dripped Blood once again returns Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, and even employs the venerable John Pertwee. When a film star mysteriously disappears after renting an old country home, Scotland Yard Inspector Holloway is sent to investigate. When the local police chief tells him of the house’s troubled past, Holloway meets with the estate agent renting the home, who tells him the grisly tales about its previous tenants.
The first segment is “Method For Murder”. Here, a horror novelist moves into the home with his wife in hopes that the change of atmosphere will help him complete his work. His anticipation turns to terror when the killer from his novel, Dominic, begins to haunt him. At first the visions of his maniacal killer are short and taunting, but they grow in severity and soon enough…people die. Director Peter Duffell does a fantastic job of executing the scares here. The scenes of Dominic are fantastic and probably the most terrifying in the film. This effort succeeds thanks to solid execution.
The second segment is “Waxworks”, which stars Peter Cushing as Philip Grayson, a man who visits a macabre waxwork museum and falls for the splitting image of a woman he once knew. This segment is heavy in mystique and desire. It’s tremendous to watch Philip immediately find him self in awe over the wax model of the woman. He knows that she has a place in his past, but he cannot pinpoint who she is. As he aspires to find out more about her, the story delves into horrors he did not see coming.
The third segment is “Sweets to the Sweet”. We follow a private teacher named Ann Norton who is hired to educate the young daughter of a John Reid (Christopher Lee), a widower. Ann notices that John treats his daughter Jane in a severely cold manner. She protests his actions, but soon she learns that Jane is not the innocent young girl she appears to be. From the get-go you know that something is not right with the relationship between John and Jane. You are lead to believe that he is a stern father with a distaste for emotion, but as the story moves you learn that you have the wrong person pinched as the antagonist. The horror takes its time here, but it delivers solidly in the end.
The fourth segment is “The Cloak”. Veteran actor Jon Pertwee stars as horror film actor Paul Henderson. While shooting a vampire film Paul moves into an old home nearby the film set. While shopping downtown he buys a black cloak from an antique store, thinking it will go perfect with his vampire costume. Little does he know, the cloak goes a little too perfect…and turns him into a real life blood sucker. I really enjoyed this entry because Pertwee’s performance is the best in the film and it ties into the wraparound story as Paul winds up being the missing actor Inspector Halloway is searching for. With a solid twist ending, this segment bleeds into the wraparound and rounds out the film in great fashion.
Overall, The House That Dripped Blood is a solid Amicus anthology that brings good horror and engaging stories.