The House That Dripped Blood – UK, 1970

‘Terror waits for you in every room in’

The House That Dripped Blood is a 1970 British horror anthology film directed by Peter Duffell and produced by Amicus Productions. It stars Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Nyree Dawn Porter, Denholm Elliott, and Jon Pertwee.

The film is a collection of four short stories, all originally written and subsequently scripted by Robert Bloch, linked by the protagonist of each story’s association with the eponymous building.

Scream Factory is releasing The House That Dripped Blood on Blu-ray on May 8, 2018. The special features are:

  • New audio commentary by film historian/author Troy Howarth
  • New interview with second assistant director Mike Higgins
  • Audio commentary with director Peter Duffell and author Jonathan Rigby
  • A-Rated Horror Film – Vintage featurette with director Peter Duffell and actors Geoffrey Bayldon, Ingrid Pitt, and Chloe Franks
  • Theatrical trailers: English and Spanish
  • Radio spots
  • Amicus radio spots collection
  • Still gallery

Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.com

Shortly after renting an old country house, film star Paul Henderson mysteriously disappears and Inspector Holloway (John Bennett) from Scotland Yard is called to investigate.

Inquiring at the local police station, Holloway is told some of the house’s history. He then contacts the estate agent (John Bryans) renting the house, who elaborates further by telling Holloway about its previous tenants…

‘Method for Murder’ (originally published in Fury #7, July 1962)

A hack writer of horror stories (Denholm Elliott) moves into the house with his wife (Joanna Dunham) and is haunted by visions of Dominic (Tom Adams), the murderous, psychopathic central character of his latest novel.

‘Waxworks’ (originally published in Weird Tales Vol. 33 #1, January 1939)

A retired stockbroker (Peter Cushing) and his friend (Joss Ackland) become fixated with a macabre waxwork museumthat appears to contain a model of a lady they both knew.

‘Sweets to the Sweet’ (originally published in Weird Tales Vol. 39 #10, March 1947)

A private teacher (Nyree Dawn Porter) is perturbed by the cold and severe way a widower (Christopher Lee) treats his young daughter (Chloe Franks), even forbidding her to have a doll. The teacher feels like a helpless bystander, but his daughter is not everything that she seems.

‘The Cloak’ (Unknown, May 1939)

Temperamental horror film actor Paul Henderson (Jon Pertwee) moves into the house while starring in a vampire film being shot nearby. He buys a black cloak from a peculiar shopkeeper (Geoffrey Bayldon) to use as his film character’s costume. The cloak seems to instil in its wearer strange powers, something Paul’s co-star (Ingrid Pitt) quickly discovers…

Reviews:

“The end result may leave those weaned on rough-and-tumble horror fare nonplussed but fans of old-fashioned spookiness will find The House That Dripped Blood an enjoyable exercise in old-school horror storytelling.” Donald Guarisco, AllMovie

“This Amicus production is one the very best, thanks to a talented all-star cast, astute direction from first timer Peter Duffell and a very knowing and clever screenplay by Robert Bloch (Psycho) that takes familiar horror conventions and gives them creative new spins.” Justin McKinney], The Bloody Pit of Horror

” …in-jokes and references to the genre are abound, and the film is constructed with colorful flair, as well as atmospheric scares and style rather than gory shock effects, and the music by Michael Dress is hauntingly unique. The cast of mostly British TV veterans, is superb, handling the fun material so well…” George R. Reis, DVD Drive-In

” …it’s campy at times, creepy at times, and rocks a decidedly EC Comics vibe with all of its twist endings and mad people. More than anything, though, it’s a real celebration of “horror.” Characters are tied to the genre in various ways, and there are shout outs to Poe, Hoffman, Universal monsters…” Stacie Ponder, Final Girl

“Perhaps as a debuting director, Duffell lacks the polish that Freddie Francis, the most prolific director of Amicus’s anthologies, brought. The stories are, as always, variable. The wraparound premise is much weaker than is usually the case with Amicus’s anthologies, while even the title seems more lurid than usual.” Richard Scheib, Moria

“It’s got a great cast as always and there’s something for every horror fan with different sub-genres being tackled. Unfortunately it just lacks the extra scare factor to take it as far as it needed to go. It’s chilling as opposed to thrilling and there’s a real lack of true scares with black humour the order of the day.” Andrew Smith, Popcorn Pictures

” …too flimsy in structure to truly compel and unnerve, and Amicus’ slapdash production doesn’t help much. Duffell’s direction is mostly tamed and hemmed in by the low budget and barely contiguous narrative, sporting only occasional flurries of strong imagery.” Roderick Heath, This Island Rod

“Three of the episodes are rough-and-ready but vigorous Grand Guignol fun […]  The fourth is something else again, a marvellous mood piece of chilling intensity about a lonely, angelic child (the remarkable Chloë Franks) who compensates rather nastily…” Time Out Film Guide

” …while it isn’t quite as good as Asylum it proves that Bloch’s work makes for a decent batch of stories (save the last one), gives us two horror icons in small roles and plays better than a good share of the anthology flicks of the time (such as Tales That Witness Madness).” The Video Graveyard

The House That Dripped Blood is one of Amicus’ classier anthologies, strongly acted and imaginatively staged by Peter Duffell [who] gives the proceedings a discreetly self-reflective tone from the outset. Trawling the interior of the fateful house, the camera comes to rest on a skull perched astride a copy of Lotte Eisner’s book The Haunted Screen at the very moment that Duffell’s director credit pops up.” Jonathan Rigby, English Gothic, 2004 (third edition)

Buy: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca

“By far and away the best of Amicus’s compendium horror films, directed with flair by Peter Duffell and working both as straightforward horror film and, in The Cloak, as a witty and effective send-up of the genre.” Alan Frank, The Horror Film Handbook, 1982

” …neatly made and generally pleasing despite a low level of originality in the writing.” Leslie Halliwell, Halliwell’s Film Guide, 1981

” …tried to create interest in itself through the ironist’s device of self-deprecation, flavoured in turn by the rather specialized aura of camp. But because it does not completely relinquish its commitment to horror, its self-mockery is only partially sustained, and the film ends up with an unsure tone and a shaky sense of audience.” Wall Street Journal

Cast and characters:

‘Framework’

  • John Bennett as Detective Inspector Holloway
  • John Bryans as A.J. Stoker
  • John Malcolm as Sergeant Martin

‘Method For Murder’

  • Denholm Elliott as Charles Hillyer
  • Joanna Dunham as Alice Hillyer
  • Tom Adams as Richard/Dominic
  • Robert Lang as Dr. Andrews

‘Waxworks’

  • Peter Cushing as Philip Grayson
  • Joss Ackland as Neville Rogers
  • Wolfe Morris as Waxworks Proprietor

‘Sweets to the Sweet’

  • Christopher Lee as John Reid
  • Nyree Dawn Porter as Ann Norton
  • Chloe Franks as Jane Reid
  • Hugh Manning as Mark
  • Carleton Hobbs as Dr. Bailey

‘The Cloak’

  • Jon Pertwee as Paul Henderson
  • Ingrid Pitt as Carla Lynde
  • Geoffrey Bayldon as Theo von Hartmann
  • Jonathan Lynn as Mr. Petrich

Buy: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca

Filming locations:

  • Community Hall, Weybridge, Surrey, England, UK (waxworks/antiques shop)
  • Filmed from 29 June 1970 at Shepperton Studios, Shepperton, Surrey, England, UK (the titular house was Yew Tree House, a lodge on the back-lot that was subsequently demolished in the early 1970s)

Trivia:

The BBFC apparently initially awarded the film with an ‘A’ certificate until Amicus were asked by distributors to request an ‘X’ instead, fearing that its intended audience would be put off by such a youth-friendly rating.

Wikipedia | IMDb

Image credits: This Island RodThe Video Graveyard | Wrong Side of the Art!

 



Categories: 1970s, anthology, Blu-ray, British, vampire, voodoo

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