The House That Dripped Blood is my second favourite Amicus horror anthology after Tales From The Crypt (1972). And I am so excited to finally own the movie on Blu Ray, courtesy of Scream Factory.
Boasting a wonderful cast of iconic British actors such as Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Denholm Elliott and Jon Pertwee, and based on a script by Robert Bloch, The House That Dripped Blood tells the story of a secluded house, situated deep in the heart of the English countryside, whose succession of tenants – four in all – meet horrific fates as the titular property reflects the personality of each resident and treats them accordingly.
All four stories in this movie are excellent, and are wonderfully enhanced by an equally entertaining framing story featuring a rather skeptical Scotland Yard detective (John Bennett), who is assigned to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the last tenant of the house, a horror actor called Paul Henderson (Jon Pertwee).
The first story, ‘Method For Murder’, stars Denholm Elliott as Charles Hillyer, a horror writer who, together with his wife (Joanna Dunham), moves into the house and commences work on his latest novel, which is about a maniacal strangler called Dominick. But the writing of his book is soon disturbingly interrupted as Hillyer starts to see – or THINKS he sees – the titual villain of his book appearing in various parts of the house. Soon, as the terrifying sightings of Dominick continue, culminating in the attempted strangling of his spouse, not only does Hillyer himself start to wonder if he is losing his mind, but his wife does too. As a psychiatrist is urgently called in to treat Hillyer, you start to wonder if Dominick really is becoming real, or if he is just a wild figment of the writer’s imagination.
The second story, ‘Waxworks’, stars the late, great Peter Cushing as a retired stockbroker, Philip Grayson, who moves into the house to chill out during his twilight years. But it’s not long before Grayson’s countryside reverie is rudely interrupted by a dark obsession that suddenly grips him relating to the head of a Salome-like head that he discovers in a local wax museum. The head bears an uncanny resemblance to the woman both Grayson and his friend (who also becomes obsessed with the wax image) once loved. The use of red and green lighting in the eerie waxworks scenes are delivered brilliantly here, and Cushing, as always, gives a fantastic performance as the lovelorn stockbroker who has an ill-fated run in with the creepy proprieter of the museum (played superbly by Wolfe Morris).
The third segment, ‘Sweets To The Sweet’, stars Cushing’s fellow horror movie stalwart, Christopher Lee, as John Reid, a rather pompus, overbearing father who moves into the house with his forlorn little daugher, Jane (Chloe Franks). Reid employs a nanny, Ann Norton (Nyree Dawn Porter), to look after his little girl. However, things soon become rather heated between Reid and Ann, as the nanny voices her disapproval at the way Reid is forbidding Chloe to play with either other children or toys. And once the conversation turns to towards Lee’s deceased wife and mother of Chole, well, you soon get the feeling that there is some deep, dark secret lying behind the rather frosty, distant relationship between father and daughter. It’s almost as if . . . well, Reid is actually afraid of his daughter, for some strange reason. A fantastic segment, and of one of Lee’s best ever performances.
The final story in the movie, ‘The Cloak’, is often cited by fans as being their favourite one of the four. It stars former Dr Who actor Jon Pertwee as Paul Henderson, a rather obnoxious, arrogant horror actor who, accompanied by his co-star (the luscious Ingrid Pitt), moves into the house while he is working on his latest movie, Curse of the Bloodsuckers. I especially love the part where Henderson, in a fit of temperamental impatience (much to the chagrin of the movie production team), reminisces on how much he prefers the old horror stars to the new ones, giving an affectionate little nod here to both Bela Lugosi’s and Christopher Lee’s respective portrayals of Dracula. It’s nice little injokes like this that add a certain spice to the movie, as they are always fun to see. When Henderson buys a vampire cloak from a rather creepy-looking proprietor (played by Geoffrey Bayldon, of Catweazle fame) of an old curiosity shop, he soon finds – to his real life horror – that the notorious, nocturnal bloodsuckers may not always necessarily be confined to just the movie screen. This story is especially outstanding in the flawless way it strikes the balance just right between the horror and humour elements, something that is not always easy to pull off in such movies.
When I watched this new Scream Factory transfer of The House That Dripped Blood – and a wonderful transfer it is too – it certainly evoked many pleasant memories for me of watching this movie, as a kid, way back in the 1970s, when it would often be shown on late-night TV, usually on a Monday or Friday evening, as were all the other Amicus and Hammer classics. It was just like revisiting an old friend, only this time, now that I own it on Blu Ray, I can obviously pull it from the shelf and watch it again and again, whenever I like, without having to wait a few years to catch it on TV again. Ah, the joys of Blu Ray collecting!
Not only does this Scream Factory release of The House That Dripped Blood have a stunning picture quality, but it also comes with some great special features, including a new audio commentary by author Troy Howarth, Radio Spots, Stills Gallery, and a Making Of documentary.
Whilst the movie’s title, The House That Dripped Blood, may be somewhat misleading, as it certainly does not offer liberal dollops of the red stuff, it still entertains in the impeccable, traditional way that a good old British horror movie should. All four of the stories are strong, have superb plot twists, and are peopled with many interesting characters entangled in the most ominous, perturbing situations. In addition, the framing story, with both the ever-cynical Scotland Yard inspector and the house’s rather morose estate agent (who could even be the Devil himself), complements the movie nicely.
Well done, Scream Factory, for giving The House That Dripped Blood the long-awaited, glorious Blu Treatment it deserves. Now, please, please, please, can we have an equally brilliant Blu Ray release of another favourite Amicus horror anthology movie of mine, From Beyond The Grave? Like The House That Dripped Blood before it, this is another film that is long overdue for some Hi-Def treatment. In fact, to my knowledge, it is the only remaining Amicus horror anthology movie that has not yet been given a Blu Ray release anywhere.
You can buy the Scream Factory Blu Ray release of The House That Dripped Blood by clicking on the movie’s image link above this article.