Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released in the UK on February 22, 1971 and in the US on April 2, 1971
Directed by Peter Duffell
Written by Robert Bloch
Cast: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Denholm Elliott, Nyree Dawn Porter, Jon Pertwee, Joanna Dunham, Joss Ackland, Ingrid Pitt, Chloe Franks, John Bennett, John Malcolm, Tom Adams, John Bennett, Geoffrey Bayldon, Joanna Lumley
I’ll be brutally honest with you: this house does not drip actual blood. Not once…not even in the vampire scenes, where you’d expect a copious amount of it to flow. No, this house dripped it metaphorically, serving only as a catalyst for the presentation of four short horror stories, as conveyed to a Scotland Yard inspector investigating the disappearance of a recent tenant. All four stories, told in flashback, related to tragic events that befell the previous occupants of the home, whose frightening encounters all connected in some way to the ominous ‘house that dripped blood’.
The four episodes—titled ‘Method for Murder’, ‘Waxworks’, ‘Sweets to the Sweet’, and ‘The Cloak’—were all written by Psycho scribe Robert Bloch, just four of many he wrote for Amicus, the British film company that rivaled Hammer for UK horror output in the ’60s and ’70s. The first tale featured Denholm Elliott as a writer haunted by visions of an evil character from his current novel, while the second had Peter Cushing falling under the spell of an eerie wax museum. These two were okay—the first had some fun twists, the second had Cushing and not much else—but they paved the way for the remaining two chapters, which were by the far the best of the bunch.
The fourth connected to our Scotland Yard lead-in, and was more tongue-in-cheek than the others, having to do with an actor portraying a vampire, whose recently-purchased cloak does unexpected wonders for his character. But it was the third, ‘Sweets to the Sweet’, that did the trick for me, an outright spine-tingler starring Christopher Lee as a widowed father who hires a nanny to watch over his young daughter. The title is as puzzling as the story itself; I couldn’t figure out where it was headed, though I wondered why Lee was being such a jerk, and why he wouldn’t allow his poor daughter to have friends, or even toys…especially not that doll the nanny was nice enough to buy for her.
An enjoyable and gore-free horror anthology that still managed to be suspenseful and a bit chilling, hitting the bullseye on three of its four scary offerings, and whose mood, music, and sinister air succeeded in getting under my skin; it definitely had me re-thinking any thoughts I might’ve had about buying a Gothic house in the middle of the UK countryside. As I mentioned, that third story was really something, and kudos to the director and Lee for creating such a heavy sense of dread and malevolence. And good lord, can there be anything finer on a Halloween night than Ingrid Pitt dressed in a skimpy vampire outfit? I think not. (7/10)