The third compendium horror film from Hammer rivals Amicus offers a script by Robert ‘Psycho’ Bloch and an impressive cast of genre stalwarts and jobbing thesps with rather impressive results.
The interlinking premise this time around is that John Bennett’s Scotland Yard police detective is searching for a horror movie star who has gone missing. Investigating the star’s house, the inspector hears tales of the previous building’s tenants, all of whom experienced some strange and terrible events.
Responding to the popularity of the studio’s collaboration with AIP on Scream And Scream Again (1969), which had successfully tapped the youth market with its audaciously gory content,The House That Dripped Blood tried to play the other end of the market by going for intelligent scripting and classy acting over violent shocks.
To this end, the four stories concentrate on the set-up and execution rather than on fake blood, making the title somewhat redundant, but giving each of the segments some atmospheric chills. In the four stories, Denholm Elliot plays a horror writer haunted by his homicidal invention, Peter Cushing stars as a man who discovers the image of his former love in the local waxworks museum, Christopher Lee struggles with his evil little daughter and Jon Pertwee plays a horror star with a new vampire cloak that offers him more than he bargained for.
Carefully presided over by debut director Peter Duffell, this portmanteau movie offers a real treat for genre fans, with Lee and Cushing turning in some fine performances (particularly the former, as a man who is mortally terrified of his young, effigy-burning daughter) and the arrival of (then unknown) Ingrid Pitt in a supporting role. Ultimately, it is Bloch’s understanding of the nuance of atmosphere, setting and theme that gives The House That Dripped Blood its power. The screenwriter makes each story fit into a wider whole, while indulging in some tongue-in-cheek digs at the genre in the spoofing fourth story.
Christopher Lee as John Reid (segment 3 “Sweets to the Sweet”)
Peter Cushing as Philip Grayson (segment 2 “Waxworks”)
Nyree Dawn Porter as Ann Norton (segment 3 “Sweets to the Sweet”)
Denholm Elliott as Charles Hillyer (segment 1 “Method for Murder”)
Jon Pertwee as Paul Henderson (segment 4 “The Cloak”)
Joanna Dunham as Alice Hillyer (segment 1 “Method for Murder”)
Joss Ackland as Neville Rogers (segment 2 “Waxworks”)
John Bennett as Detective Inspector Holloway (segment “Framework Story”)
Chloe Franks as Jane Reid (segment 3 “Sweets to the Sweet”)
Tom Adams as Dominick / Richard (segment 1 “Method for Murder”)
Ingrid Pitt as Carla Lind (segment 4 “The Cloak”)
John Bryans as Stoker (segment “Framework Story”)
Wolfe Morris as Waxworks Proprietor (segment “Waxworks”)
Geoffrey Bayldon as Von Hartmann (segment “The Cloak”)
Robert Lang as Psychiatrist (segment “Method for Murder”)
Director: Peter Duffell
Script: Robert Bloch, Russ Jones
UK | 102 minutes | 1971