Retro Film Report #41: The House that Dripped Blood (1971)

I can talk to you all day about a movie, but when it comes to typing it into a formal review, complete with plot summary and well-thought-out critique, I'm not your guy. That sounds like a lot of work; and I'd rather spend my time just watching another movie.

That being said, I do like sharing what I've watched and hearing your thoughts as well.  This week I watched a flick that is near and dear to my heart - The House that Dripped Blood.

Ingrid Pitt and Jon Pertwee in the final act of The House that Dripped Blood (1971)
It's not near-and-dear because of childhood memories, but rather because it was the very first thing resembling a blog post I ever put up on the internet.

Remember GeoCities?  Yeah, that's right.  It goes that far back.  When I first got a wild hair up my ass to do a blog around 2007, I started with a review of this film.  And here I am almost ten years later doing it again...... kind of sad, really.

But I digress.

The House that Dripped Blood is an Amicus anthology horror film in the vein of Tales from the Crypt, Creepshow, Trilogy of Terror, etc. all written by Robert Bloch (Psycho).  The four-parts have a flimsy wraparound story that isn't worth mentioning, but they all revolve around this creepy house.

The first segment is about a writer (Denholm Elliot) and his wife (Joanna Dunham) who move to this house.  He's writing a horror novel and the character he invents comes to life (by his imagination?) and is surprisingly unsettling...

This horrible creature keeps popping up, making ghoulish faces.  Pretty frightening actually - and there's a twist which could have come straight from the pages of an EC comic.

In my humble opinion, this is by far the creepiest of all four stories - a bad thing for an anthology horror movie. You don't want the opening bit to be the scariest, then it's downhill from there.

But don't get me wrong - the rest of the stories are by no means bad.

The next story stars Peter Cushing. There's a statue in a wax museum that reminds him of a chick he knew - and when his chum comes to visit, he falls under the spell of this wax-babe.  Bad things ensue.

I could watch Cushing read the paper and fold laundry and be transfixed.  The man had a presence like no other.  So, even thought the story is a tad weak, Cushing is, as always, a joy to watch.

Plus, you really get a eyeball-ful of vivid colors in this segment.  Remember how Creepshow had an almost cartoonish color scheme?  Bright toxic waste greens, brilliant neon purples, retina-scarring reds... before Creepshow, it was done by Amicus.  This really makes it seem even more like something out of an EC comic.

Who doesn't love a creepy kid story?  The next segment has Christopher Lee moving to the house with his devil-child.  He hires a private teacher (Nyree Dawn Porter) who doesn't get why Lee treats her so badly and keeps the kid secluded.   Oh, she'll find out all right.  She'll find out.

But I like Christopher Lee as a vampire, or Count Dooku even - not a stressed-out dad.  He's pretty much wasted in this role, and the final payoff at the end of the story isn't worth the boredom it takes to get there.

But you actually get to see Christopher Lee reading The Lord of the Rings at one point, so I suppose it may be worth it after all.

The last story stars Jon Pertwee as a flamboyant actor who moves into the house.  (Pertwee was actually still the current Doctor Who at the time.)

Pertwee is a horror film star and sort of a diva who's unimpressed with the current state of horror cinema (and even makes a winking insult at Christopher Lee - the new Dracula, which is pretty funny).

The realtor (left) is the common thread throughout the four stories - selling the home to poor unfortunate souls, despite his reservations.

But the real star of this segment is Ingrid Pitt's cleavage, which chews the scenery throughout.

Pitt plays a bodice-popping scream queen who, I think, is Pertwee's main squeeze.  She gets bit on the neck when Pertwee gets carried away with his role as Dracula.  It seems the cloak that he purchased at an antique store has the power to turn him into a real vampire.

Doctor Who, Ingrid Pitt's boobs... this sounds like a recipe for success, right?  Wrong. Pertwee plays his role so comically, that it transcends 'laughable' and lands squarely in 'cringeworthy'.  Perhaps if this had been the opening tale, or even the second - but to end with a campy comedy story was a bad idea.

I mean, the first story is scary, serious, and a little disturbing.  The Cushing story and the Christopher Lee story were both pretty damn serious.  Ending on a cooky note just doesn't seem right.

But then there's Ingrid Pitt's cleavage, and suddenly it's all okay....


1 comment:

  1. Hm. I may watch based on Pitt's cleavage alone.