The House That Dripped Blood Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Directed by Peter Duffell
Written by Robert Bloch
1971, 101 minutes, Rated PG
Blu-ray released on May 8th, 2018
Christopher Lee as John Reid
Peter Cushing as Philip Grayson
Denholm Elliott as Charles Hillyer
Jon Pertwee as Paul Henderson
Ingrid Pitt as Carla
John Bennett as Det. Holloway
Chloe Franks as Jane
The House That Dripped Blood is a 1971 horror anthology picture from the legendary Amicus Films. Four standalone stories written by author Robert Bloch (Psycho) share a central location as their starting point of inspiration. The stellar cast includes Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Ingrid Pitt, Denholm Elliott and Jon Pertwee as the unfortunate occupants of the titular house. Amicus makes great use of the anthology format and this is a solid example of what the studio does best.
In the first tale, “Method for Murder”, Denholm Elliott (The Vault of Horror) stars as horror novelist Charles Hillyer. Moving into the house is an attempt to break a case of writer’s block and it works in spades. Soon, Hillyer is cranking out pages about a maniacal strangler, an intimidating figure that becomes more real with each passing day. The author begins catching glimpses of his creation in his peripheral vision and in mirrors, but assumes he is simply working too hard. His wife suspects a trip to a psychiatrist is in order. What exactly is going on and will he finish the book before he cracks up?
The second story, “Waxworks”, stars Peter Cushing (The Vampire Lovers) as Philip Grayson, a reclusive man who takes over the house in part for its isolation. He spends his days gardening or reflecting on his quiet lifestyle. He walks into town and comes across a wax museum. Inside this house of horrors he spies an exhibit that haunts him. He is plagued by nightmares and cannot stop thinking about the wax figure of a beautiful woman. His friend Neville stops by for a visit and ends up making his way to the establishment as well. He also finds the display captivating, but Grayson warns him away. Is there something sinister going on here or is it merely a case of jealousy?
In “Sweets to the Sweet”, Christopher Lee (The City of the Dead) stars as John Reid, an overprotective father to a young girl named Jane (Chloe Franks, Who Slew Auntie Roo?). He forbids her to have friends or toys and will not allow her to attend school. Instead, he summons Ann Norton, a tutor (Nyree Dawn Porter, From Beyond the Grave) to tend to the girl. She befriends young Jane, but cannot pin down the incredibly strict nature of the girl’s father. Reid is an imposing figure, but may not be the aggressor here.
The final story, “The Cloak”, injects a much needed dose of comedy into the mix as a prickly actor demands authenticity in his latest low-budget horror flick. John Pertwee (Doctor Who) is Paul Henderson, a living legend in the genre who despises his current film project for being cheap. He ventures out on his own to secure a more appropriate wardrobe and dons a magical cape that turns him into a vampire. Like an honest to goodness flying monster with fangs and a thirst for human blood. The beautiful Ingrid Pitt (Countess Dracula) co-stars as Paul’s confidant, Carla.
Robert Bloch’s stories are quite fun and cover a lot of ground in terms of content. The best tale is the Christopher Lee segment, “Sweets to the Sweet”. Lee is commanding in the role and is given the rare opportunity to play against type. Peter Cushing’s “Waxworks” doesn’t have a lot to do with the actual house, but I suppose if he hadn’t moved in then he could have avoided his fate. This is a stretch for the plot, but Cushing delivers another reliable performance. Director Peter Duffell (Inside Out) keeps things moving and has a clear love for the genre that really shines through in each of these segments. The contemporary (1971) stories move quickly and are satisfying in their conclusions, even if they are occasionally a bit abrupt. My biggest complaint here is that there is not a single drop of blood in the picture, a real shame given the title. If you like anthologies, this is a pretty good one that also serves as a decent introduction to the material for newcomers.
Video and Audio:
Presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the film receives a strong transfer. Colors are muted and black levels are deep, exactly as intended. The print is free from dirt or damage and there is a lot of small-object detail on display.
A DTS-HD MA mono audio track preserves the original recording and is more than serviceable at getting the job done. This is a largely dialogue-driven film with some stinging music cues applied for effect. Audio cues remain clear and free from distortion and there are no traces of hiss or other interference.
Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.
There are two audio commentaries, the first with film historian Troy Howarth, who delivers a rapid fire series of facts, trivia and anecdotes. The second track is a bit more laid back and features director Peter Duffell in a conversational mood with author Jonathan Rigby, who moderates. Both tracks are highly informative and entertaining.
Mike Higgins (2nd Assistant Director) sits down for an interview (9 minutes) in which he discusses the working environment on the set and some humorous moments of shooting on location. His memory is sharp and his anecdotes are enjoyable.
In the vintage featurette A-Rated Horror Film (17 minutes), Peter Duffel talks about the making of The House That Dripped Blood with anecdotes about the cast and crew. The segment also features interviews with actors Geoffrey Bayldon, Ingrid Pitt, and Chloe Franks. Duffel is quick to point out his unhappiness with the title and provides additional insights from the production.
A pair of theatrical trailers (4 minutes), one in English, the other in Spanish, contains a fair amount of spoilers – so watch only after screening the film.
A collection of radio spots (3 minutes) provides a further glimpse at the marketing for the picture.
A photo gallery (5 minutes) of production stills, lobby cards and poster art plays several images as a silent slideshow.
A gallery of radio spots (14 minutes) for nearly a dozen Amicus films with corresponding promotional stills is also included.
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