The House That Dripped Blood

The house is the epicenter of so much in horror, whether it’s the caller calling from inside it, the creaky door slamming in the middle of the night, the body lodged in the wall, or the phantasmagorical figures appearing in the bathtub. That’s why it’s a bit odd that in the anthology horror, The House That Dripped Blood, the role of the abode is so diminished.

But that shouldn’t diminish the impact of this fun little 70s feature, which showcases the combined talents of some horror icons, albeit appearing in different segments: Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

The set up for each of the four segments involves prospective renters of a sprawling, dusty Victorian home.

In Method for Hire, a crime writer played by Denholm Elliott rents the place for some peace and quiet (a bit like Ethan Hawke in Sinister). He’s soon plagued by visions of his own fictional creation, a leering strangler named Dominic.

In Waxworks, Peter Cushing portrays a retired stockbroker who becomes completely obsessed with the image of a waxwork figure in a local curiosities museum.

In Sweets to the Sweet, Christopher Lee is a hard-ass dad who won’t let his young daughter associate with her peers or have any toys. He hires a tutor, and soon the daughter is exacting her revenge.

In The Cloak, a two-bit b-movie actor is dissatisfied with a vampire production he’s starring in. Acting as his own wardrobe stylist, he procures a Dracula cape from a rundown curio shop (never a good sign, see Dario Argento’s Inferno). Soon, he’s overcome with vampiric/method acting tendencies.

The Cloak is the cheekiest of the bunch, Sweets to the Sweet the most unpredictable.

They’re each delightful in their own way, as are many/most Amicus productions.

***1/2 (out of 5)

[Check out our podcast discussion of The House that Dripped Blood!]

Black Sabbath

Forget Batali. The real Molto Maria is Bava and Black Sabbath sees him in fine, if uneven form.

Depending on which version you see, this anthology starts with The Drop of Water, then segues into The Telephone, and then ends with The Wurdalak. [and please check out our podcast discussion of Black Sabbath]

The strongest of the bunch is The Drop of Water. Set in pre-WWI London, cranky Nurse Helen (Jacqueline Pierreux) is summoned to prepare the body of an old medium for burial. What’s with the Italians and those crazy mediums? (media?) Recall the ominous warnings from the blind soothsayer with the dog in The Beyond? Or, the spiritualist who looks like Margaret Atwood in City of the Living Dead?

As Nurse Helen dresses the body, she spots a sapphire ring on its finger. Chester wrests it from the deceased, accidentally tipping over a glass of water which drips on the floor. The Drop of Water is a master class in sense-awareness. There’s the drip drip of water, the constant flashes of light through an oval window, and of course, the tactility of a gruesome fly which torments the thief from beyond the grave.

****1/2 (out of 5)

In The Telephone, a French call-girl Rosy (Michèle Mercier), returns to her Spartan basement apartment and starts to receive a series of odd phone calls. The caller eventually identifies himself as Frank, her former pimp who escaped from prison but who she believes has been dead for months. Questioning her sanity, a terrified Rosy phones her friend Mary (Lydia Alfonsi) for help.

*** (out of 5)

In The Wurdalak, set in pre-Russian revolution, young nobleman Vladimir (Mark Damon) finds a body by the riverside, a knife plunged into its midsection. He takes the dagger with him, and finds shelter in the owner’s house. He explains that the knife belonged to his father. They await the return of The Gorca (Boris Karloff) who has gone to fight The Wurdalak, a vampiric creature that only feasts on the blood of loved ones.

***1/2 (out of 5)