The House that Dripped Blood (1970) Review

Hot off the heels of Asylum Second Sight Films bring another Amicus anthology to Limited Edition Blu-ray with The House That Dripped Blood also penned by Psycho author and renowned screenwriter Robert Bloch.

Centred around the titulature property that is rented out by A.J Stoker and Co we open on the arrival of Scotland Yard’s Inspector Holloway (John Bennett from The Fifth Element) who has come to the isolated countryside location to investigate the disappearance of a film star who just happened to be the most recent tenant.

The local law enforcement have a whole file of strange cases related to the dread filled dwelling and set about trying to convince the Inspector that something far more ominous is going on in the house than anyone suspects by telling him stories of the fearful fate of the past inhabitants.

Staring with the section named Method for Murder featuring Indiana Jones star Denholm Elliott as Charles a horror author suffering writer’s block we watch as the house inspires his latest wicked creation, a serial killer named Dominick who takes on a life of his own outside on Charles imagination.

Witnessing visitations of Dominick in and around his new home he is prompted by his wife Alice (Joanna Dunham) to seek psychiatric help. Soon the lines between reality and fiction start to blur and Charles is forced to wonder if he is going mad or is there something else at play.

In Waxworks we meet the next occupant Philip played by the legendary Peter Cushing who is a retiree looking for some R and R in the remote mansion. Journeying into town he discovers a wax museum and a strikingly beautiful figure of Salome holding a decapitated head on a platter. The extremely lifelike model reminds him of a past love and the strange man who runs the museum of horror tells him a chilling tale of the dolls creation.

Visited by an old chum named Rogers (Joss Ackland) who was a rival for Philip’s old flame the pair take a trip to the malevolent museum where his friend is overtaken with desire for the wax replica seeing the same similarity Phillip had but stronger. From here things go from bad to worse as Rodger’s obsession grows and Philip finally learns the truth about the eerie exhibition.

Another horror legend Christopher Lee stars in Sweets to the Sweet as Reid a father whose strict and heartless attitude to his young daughter disturbs the teacher he employs to look after her when they move into the horrible house.

While she seems like any normal little girl as time passes her caretaker starts to see some sinister signs however by the time she discovers the real reason Reid has kept his daughter away from other people it is far too late and a horrifying fate befalls them all.

Bringing things back to the beginning the Inspector visits the estate agent Stoker (John Bryans) to ask about the actor he is looking for and we are treated to the most comedic tale of the bunch entitled The Cloak.

Here Dr Who’s Jon Pertwee is hilarious as film star Paul Henderson an actor famed for his horror roles and extensive knowledge of the occult. Renting the evil house for ease of access to the set of his latest movie Curse of the Bloodsuckers he is upset by the low production values he sees and sets out to add some realism to the shoot ending up in an antiques shop in town.

The peculiar shop keeper sells him a very authentic looking cloak which turns out to be infused with the spirit of a real vampire, transforming Peter into a flying, biting being whenever he puts it on. Although played for laughs the final act which ties this tale up and reveals the secret of The House That Dripped Blood is much more chilling and sums up the menacing tone of the movie.

Featuring some fine performances throughout the short stories particularly from Pertwee it is also good to see Lee and Cushing playing against type demonstrating what great actors there were when given something other than their usual typecast roles.

Perhaps not as satisfying and slick as Asylum the self-referential element in Method for Murder and The Clock is interesting and the whole film could be seen as a prototype to the first season of American Horror Story where the Murder House and its unfortunate inhabitants provided the thread that connected the series together as it does in this entertaining anthology.

Movie Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

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