The House That Dripped Blood

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The House That Dripped Blood
The House That Dripped Blood.jpg
Original theatrical release poster
Directed byPeter Duffell
Produced byMilton Subotsky
Max Rosenberg
Written byRobert Bloch
Russ Jones
StarringChristopher Lee
Peter Cushing
Denholm Elliott
Ingrid Pitt
Nyree Dawn Porter
Jon Pertwee
Music byMichael Dress
CinematographyRay Parslow
Edited byPeter Tanner
Production
company
Distributed byCinerama Releasing Corporation
Release date
  • 21 February 1971 (1971-02-21) (UK)
  • 2 April 1971 (1971-04-02) (USA)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget$500,000

The House That Dripped Blood is a 1971 British horror anthology film directed by Peter Duffell and distributed 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.

Plot[edit]

Poster for Italian version

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 Stoker (John Bryans) renting out the house, who elaborates further by telling Holloway about its previous tenants. Holloway refuses to believe Stoker and goes to the house, despite it being nearly midnight and the house having no electricity. He explores the house by candlelight, eventually breaking into a locked basement when he finds and kills Henderson, now a fully transformed vampire. He is himself then killed by Carla.

The next morning Stoker walks up to the house and breaks the fourth wall talking to the audience - asking if they understand the secret of the house: That it reflects the personality of whoever is living in it and treats them accordingly. He muses that perhaps the audience would be suitable, and "that there is nothing to fear, provided [they're] the right sort of person".

Segments[edit]

Method For Murder (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 (Weird Tales Vol. 33 #1, January 1939) 

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

Sweets to the Sweet (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 instill in its wearer strange powers, something Paul's co-star (Ingrid Pitt) quickly discovers.

Cast (by segment)[edit]

"Framework"

"Method For Murder"

"Waxworks"

"Sweets to the Sweet"

"The Cloak"

Production[edit]

Freddie Francis was wanted for the director's chair but he had prior commitments to a film in Hollywood, California that ultimately fell through.[1]

Originally, director Peter Duffell wanted to have the title Death and the Maiden as he used Franz Schubert's composition of the same title in the film.[2] Producer Milton Subotsky insisted on The House That Dripped Blood, telling Duffell "We're in the marketplace, we have to use that title".[3] Not one drop of blood appears in the actual film.[4]

When Peter Duffell was engaged the participation of actors Lee, Cushing and Pitt had already been decided by the producers. All other actors were cast by Duffell.

Jon Pertwee later claimed that the film was "meant to be a comedy-horror film and was initially filmed in that way. According to Pertwee during the production "the producer came in, took one look at what we are doing and went raving mad" insisting it was to be a horror film and not a comedy. This meant a change of tone, but the material which had already had been filmed remained, resulting in the film dipping in quality and edits to remove comedy elements from Pertwee's sequences.[5] Pertwee also admitted that he intentionally based his character, the horror actor Paul Henderson, on his co-star and friend Christopher Lee. During the production Lee realised that Pertwee was basing his performance on an actor, but did not know it was based on him.[5] A scene where Jon's character talks about favourite roles, he says that he prefers Bela Lugosi Dracula rather than the chap who plays him nowadays (meaning Christopher Lee).

Critical reception[edit]

Roger Greenspun of The New York Times wrote in a mixed review that he was "of several minds" about the film, calling the first two stories "as dull in development as they are in idea. But the latter two stories, though necessarily too short and too schematic, generate some interest, and humor, and even a bit of characterization."[4] Variety called it "one of the most entertaining of its genre to come along in several years and should prove strong opposition to the general monopoly of that market by Hammer Films ... even for filmgoers who don't usually follow the shocker market, this one is worthwhile."[6] Kevin Thomas of The Los Angeles Times wrote, "Richly atmospheric settings, muted color photography, an outstanding cast and competent direction (by Peter Duffell) do justice to Bloch's fine script, which deals with psychological terror rather than relying on the typical blood-and-guts formula."[7] Tom Milne of The Monthly Film Bulletin called the first two stories "enjoyable enough in a rough-and-ready way" and the fourth story "a pleasant joke which would have been much funnier had it been played by a genuine horror star such as Vincent Price," but singled out the third story as "in an altogether different league ... it is mainly a mood piece which brilliantly orchestrates the child's loneliness, the father's hapless cruelty, and the governess' well-meaning failure to understand, into a haunting picture of the evil that can come of good intentions."[8]

Among more recent reviews, Allmovie's review of the film was mostly positive, calling it "a solid example of the Amicus horror anthology."[9] Halliwell's Film Guide described the film as "neatly made and generally pleasing despite a low level of originality in the writing."[10] Time Out called the stories "rough-and-ready but vigorous Grand Guignol fun."[11]

Box Office[edit]

The film was a minor success in the UK but did very well in the US.[12]

Home media[edit]

Format Audio Subtitles Region Aspect Ratio Studio Release Date
DVD-Video, NTSC English:
Dolby Digital 2.0 Dual Mono
English,
Spanish
Region 1 1.85:1 Lions Gate Home Entertainment 28 October 2003
DVD-Video, PAL English:
Dolby Digital 2.0 Dual Mono,
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround,
DTS 5.1 Surround
none Region 2 1.85:1 Anchor Bay Entertainment 27 October 2003
DVD-Video, NTSC English:
Dolby Digital 2.0 Dual Mono
English Region 1 1.85:1 Hen's Tooth Video 26 February 2013
Blu-Ray, 1080p English:
DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo,
English Region A 1.85:1 Shout! Factory (Scream Factory) 8 March 2018

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hallenbeck 2015, p. 93.
  2. ^ Hallenbeck 2015, p. 94.
  3. ^ Callaghan 2009.
  4. ^ a b Greenspun 1971.
  5. ^ a b Pertwee, Jon; Howe, David J. (1996). I am the Doctor:Jon Pertwee's Final Memoir. London: Virgin Publishing. pp. 42–43. ISBN 1-85227-621-5.
  6. ^ Variety 1971.
  7. ^ Thomas 1971.
  8. ^ Milne 1971.
  9. ^ Guarisco.
  10. ^ Halliwell 1981, p. 469.
  11. ^ "The House That Dripped Blood". Time Out.
  12. ^ Bryce 2000, p. 62-70.

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]