Fun fact – this movie was originally intended to be a part of last year’s horror marathon but the DVD I ordered didn’t actually arrive until the whole thing was over. Maybe not a fun fact, but it’s a fact at least. I almost forgot about it completely for this round as well so I got it in just in the nick of time. I didn’t actually cover a horror anthology movie this year either so even better!
The House that Dripped Blood tells four different short stories that all take place within the same house – a pretty unique idea for one of these anthology films. The wraparound story is about a detective who is looking for a famous actor who moved into the house and has since gone missing. He visits the local police station where one of them starts telling him about the history of the house where the actor lived. This leads us into our stories. In real life I don’t know if a detective would have the patience to sit there and listen to this guy ramble on about vampire and stuff for almost 2 hours, but it works as a decent enough set-up for the storytelling.
The first story has a horror author and his wife move into the house so he can focus on his newest book. It’s a pretty generic sounding thriller about an escaped mental patient named Dominick who is going around and strangling people. Soon enough, the author (I don’t have time to look up character names people, too busy!) is starting to see his creation around his house, emitting what is admittedly a pretty creepy laugh. Soon he starts seeing Dominick everywhere he goes and of course nobody believes him. Is he losing his mind? What kind of In The Mouth of Madness situation do we have going on here? Have you ever seen In The Mouth of Madness? That shit is great and you should really check it out.
This story is merely ok. It’s a pretty standard plot that is pulled off reasonably well. Dominick’s signature laugh is unsettling and creepy as I mentioned before. What is not creepy is the actual look of the character. He looks like a cross between Mr. Hyde and Bigfoot, and then covered in a layer of dust. He has this big goofy teeth and ridiculous smile that it’s impossible to take this guy as a threat whenever you see him. Seriously, look at the banner image in this review. Does that scare you? Of course no! He looks like a dirty chimney sweep who would say “gov’na” a lot. The whole thing caps off with a predictable twist, though that is immediately followed by a less predictable twist that I’m not convinced makes a damn bit of sense. The performances are solid at the very least, but it’s still not the best way to kick off our feature.
The second story stars Peter Cushing so you automatically know this one is probably going to be better. Cushing plays a man who after moving into the house by himself. He finds a nearby waxworks museum where he immediately is taken by one of the wax statues, feeling that the woman statue resembles a girl from his past. His friend shows up and has the same reaction. We learn about their history, as well as whom this girl is that they are reminded of by this statue.
Again, this story is only ok. Cushing puts in a great performance but that’s not a surprise. However the story and presentation is a little dull. For starters, come on you guys that statue doesn’t look a damn thing like this woman you’re both obsessed with. This is a bit of a reach. Second, although loneliness is clearly the centre point of the story, it’s still not all that exciting to watch Cushing wander around and be bored. The end is pretty decent, but again I was only mildly entertained by this one.
The third story is easily my favourite. Christopher Lee plays an uptight father who moves into the cursed house with his young daughter. He hires a teacher for her as he refuses to let his daughter enroll in school. He also doesn’t let her watch TV, have toys, or do just about anything. Of course he initially comes off as a gigantic asshole but as the story unfolds we start to learn more and more of the truth.
With a great central performance by Lee, this story was the most effective. It does a terrific job of building up suspense as you continually wonder just what in the hell is going on with this family. The payoff for everything is both satisfying and creepy. Good stuff.
The fourth story unfortunately ends things on a pretty weak note. This tale follows the missing actor that the detective in the wraparound story is trying to locate. Turns out he’s a famous horror movie actor, and also he’s a giant prick. He buys a vampire cape for his costume from a local shop run by your standard creepy shop dude and when he puts it on he starts to exhibit vampire style behavior. He at first tries to bite his female co-worker on the neck, and then the cape is done fucking around so he can then fly and also grows vampire teeth.
This story throws the horror to the side and mostly goes for comedy. It doesn’t work out so great. The scene where the guy flies for the first time is meant to be a big slapstick comedy bit but it’s mostly just lame. The twist here is also pretty predictable, and my god they really shouldn’t be letting these vampires fly. Not only because you can blatantly see the wires, but because the actors look so damn uncomfortable flapping their arms and pretending to fly around that it just comes off as hilarious, and I don’t think that was the intent at one point.
The wraparound story does conclude in a way that ties it into the stories being told but it’s pretty lame and the direct to the camera narration at the end about the workings of the house don’t help matters much.
The House that Dripped Blood is a decent but unremarkable anthology movie. It’s well directed and has a good score, two things I failed to mention before, but only one story stands out as being very well told. Two of the others are merely ok, and one is outright bad. Probably worth a watch, but I wouldn’t go out of your way to do so.
Also the house at no point drips blood, so that title is just a bold faced lie.