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The House That Dripped Blood (1971)


Horror anthologies are something that people either love or hate. While I can see the reason people don't like them (they tend to be cheaply made, the stories are sometimes not fleshed out, etc.) I am in the camp that loves them. I haven't yet seen one that I haven't enjoyed to some degree, be it The Trilogy of Terror, Tales From the Crypt (the original British movie, not the HBO movies with the puppet though I enjoyed those too) Creepshow, or The ABC's of Death. The House That Dripped Blood is not the best of this genre within a genre, but it is still fun. With a cast that includes Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Jon Pertwee how could it not be?

The movie begins with an inspector from Scotland Yard coming to investigate the disappearance of a movie star. As the inspector is talking to the local policeman working the case, he is told that the house that the star was staying in was the site of several weird disasters. He then begins the first story of the movie. This is about a horror writer who decides to bring his wife out to the country to get around his writer's block. He creates a new villain who laughs as he strangles his victims. His writing is coming along very quickly at this new house. Then he starts to see his new creation in the flesh. He thinks he is going crazy, but things soon take a deadly turn. This segment is enjoyable but I do have two complaints. One is that there was absolutely no set up for the twist, it just comes out of left field. The other is the goofy facial expressions that Dominic "the strangler" tends to make. But these are minor quibbles, one of which might be explained by a bit of trivia I will share when discussing the final segment.

The next segment stars Peter Cushing, and it's a good thing. Without him to carry it I'm afraid this story might be too jumbled to be any good. Cushing plays a retired stockbroker. He lives at the house alone. He has a photo of a woman with whom he was obviously in love. He visits a waxwork museum of horrors and see a display of Salome that makes him think of his lost lady love. An old friend stops in to visit and we learn that they were once rivals for the woman's affections, but neither of them got her. The friend drags Cushing into the museum even though Cushing begs him not to. The friend becomes obsessed with the Salome waxwork. The ending to this segment is a little hammy and again kind of comes out of left field. Also, if there is a connection between the waxwork woman and the mystery woman that Peter Cushing and his friend both loved, we are never let in on it.

Third is a segment starring the great Christopher Lee. No fangs or monster makeup for Lee in this movie. He plays a father who doesn't want to let his daughter go to school, play with other kids, or have toys. His new tutor that he hires thinks he is just being cruel, but the father tries to tell her he has his reasons for what he does. He explains that he is afraid of the girl, just as he was afraid of her mother. The tutor does what she can to teach and help the girl. But she starts to notice odd behavior. This is probably the best segment of the movie, and not just because of Lee's presence. The story makes the most sense, and the ending (while probably the most horrific in the movie) doesn't really rely on a twist. And while the first two segments don't deal with supernatural elements, this one (and the final one) do. The lead in to this segment also introduces us to the real estate agent Stoker, who is the one who tells this story to the inspector. 
After telling that story it is time for Stoker to tell about the current inhabitant of the house. Jon Pertwee plays an actor who has starred in a hundred horror movies, but doesn't like how the quality of the movies has come down over the years. He wants authenticity. so when he sees his vampire cape he is dissatisfied. He goes to a shop where he buys what turns out to be an actual vampire's cape. He discovers that when he puts it on he doesn't cast a reflection. He finds out that the shop owner who sold it to him was found dead in a coffin in the basement of the shop. He bites his co-star during filming of a scene. He invites her over for drinks by way of apology, and that is when he learns the true purpose behind his receiving the cape. This is an interesting take on vampires, although some of the effects are just goofy. This is where that bit of trivia I mentioned earlier comes in. Pertwee claims the movie was originally meant to be a horror comedy, but was recut and partly refilmed to be straight horror. A couple of the scenes from his segment lend credence to this, like when the cape causes him to fly and he is mugging at the camera. There is also a great joke about Christopher Lee in this if you are paying attention. This last segment leads to the inspector going to the house, and the climax of the movie directly ties in to it. Then the real estate agent breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the audience, making one think he may not be exactly what he seems. All anthology movies tend to be uneven, and this one is no exception with the last two segments being much better than the first two. But overall it's a fun movie and one I recommend giving a watch.


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