Monday, 25 March 2013

One from the Amicus Box-The House That Dripped Blood

The House that Dripped Blood- Amicus 1971.
Director: Peter Duffell
Writer: Robert Bloch

Hello Folks,

Jonny T here with one from the Amicus box set, Basically I recently brought the Amicus box set from Anchor bay, now this getting harder and harder to find, I already have the other 3 which are the Norman J warren, Pete Walker and The Tigon Collection, I do already own a few of the titles as individual DVD’s but really wanted to add this to my collection and was super pleased when I final got hold of it.

So I have decided to review all the films in all the box sets, this may be a long but I do think an extremely enjoyable task, I have decided to start with the Amicus one and picked out for the first review The House That Dripped Blood. This is the classic Amicus formula of various stories that are 1: Method for Murder 2: Waxworks 3:Sweets to the Sweet and finally 4: The Cloak, all stories contain some of the true greats such as Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Denholm Elliot, Ingrid Pitt and the great Jon Pertwee.

The film opens with Detective Holloway (John Bennet) who has been called in to investigate a case of a missing actor (Pertwee) who has disappeared whilst renting a house in the country, He is interviewing the chap who leases the property a one Mr A.J Stoker (one of the very many in jokes/nods to classic horror) and Mr Stoker proceeds to tell him about all the former tenants this is where we then get to see our 1st Story, Method For Murder.

Method For Murder.

Starring: Denholm Elliot (Charles Hillyer) Tom Adams (Dominick / Richard) Joanna Dunham (Alice Hillyer)

The story is of Writer Tom Hillyer and his decision to move away to a nice quiet retreat with his lady Joanna to create a new horror story, As with all the stories we see Mr Stoker showing them around the property and also with all the stories the new tenants are more than pleased to be there, at first anyway! So Hillyer settles down to start his new story, the story of Dominick a deranged escaped murder, Tom swears to Joanna that he has seen looking through the window of the house but only in his head of course, the story moves along at a great pace with Tom’s visions becoming more frequent and he even does a sketch of what Dominick looks like which when his visions become too real he screws up the sketch and takes a walk along the river, throws it in and watches it float away only to see Dominick on the embankment who proceeds to pick it up, Eventually telling Joanne that he is now in the house, of course he’s not, or is he? The Character of Dominick is played brilliantly and very eerily by Tom Adams with the character design of Dominick harking back to the good old Universal Monsters days, I Remember seeing this as a kid and the vision of Dominick in various places creeped me out! The story unfolds as if Hillyer is slowly losing his mind whilst Joanna appears nonchalant about the whole thing, so does she know more than she is letting on? Is he really going insane? I know most of you have probably seen it but I won’t spoil it for any of you that haven’t, needless to say that it ends with a great double twist!



Starring: Peter Cushing (Philip Grayson), Joss Ackland (Neville Rogers), Wolfe Morris (Waxworks Proprietor)

This segment tells the tale of Phillip Grayson (Cushing) who rents the secluded mansion as a getaway, he tells Stoker that he likes to be alone and seems somewhat of a loner, We see him with a black and white photograph of a girl, possibly a former lover but this is never really fully explained, He decides to go to the local town to take a look around and whilst there he notices a “Waxworks” so with curiosity he decides to take a look, Upon entering he notices that there is nobody behind the pay booth so decides to leave his money and take a look around, he browses, it’s the usual fair of gruesome waxworks until he discovers a mysterious exhibition piece behind a lace curtain, he pulls the cord to the curtains to discover an extremely realistic waxwork holding a severed head on a silver platter and the waxwork seems to bear an uncanny resemblance to his former love, he is hypnotised, when we then get to see the Curator explain a brief story of how the waxwork came about, He then returns to the house and rips the photograph of the girl in half, Later that night there comes a knock on the door from his old friend Neville, after a bit of catching up Neville see’s the torn up photograph and Phillip explains that neither of them could ever have her, so you get some kind of back story, maybe she was a women that tore their friendship apart? The next day Neville goes to the Waxworks and as with Phillip he also see and seems hypnotised by the wax effigy of the lady, Again later we get to see the crazy looking Curator who explains even more to the back story and this is where it all kicks off, again I shall not spoil this but I have heard people say that this is their least favourite, I can see why I guess but another sterling performance from Cushing makes this yet another great segment. An interesting footnote is that the during this segment Peter Cushing plays the song “Death and The Maiden” and that is what Director Peter Duffell wanted the film to be called as he hated the title The House that Dripped Blood.


Sweets to the sweet

Starring: Christopher Lee (John Reid), Nyree Dawn Porter (Ann Norton), Chloe Franks (Jane Reid)

John Reid seeks to find a place to live with his daughter Jane and it appears with this house he has found the perfect place; well we know how this will end! He arrives with his young and seeks to enlist the help of a Nanny, This is when Ann arrives, John questions her about her capabilities to cope with such a task and she explains that she was used to handling classes of 40 children, then she asks him why Jane is not in a normal school like other girls her age and he says she is not like other girls, Ann seems to take to Jane straight away as we see them take various country walks and get through lessons easily, But Ann gets to notice bit by bit that the way he treats her is not very nice to say the least even culminating in a scene where he slaps the small child across the face, Jane asks him where is her mother then he goes on to explain that she is dead, end of conversation!

He appears to be mellowing out a little bit when he gives her permission to buy his daughter some toys, so she goes off to town, comes back with a Jigsaw, a Word Puzzle and a Doll, The child is delighted as it appears that she has never been allowed toys before but when her father comes in and sees her holding the doll he shouts in rage and snatches it from the poor child and throws it on the fire, so what is going on? The next thing we see is Christopher Lee looking for some Candles and when he finds them there is only 4 left in the box so he confronts his daughter screaming”where are the rest of them!!??” which leads to him slapping her face, this seems to be the final breaking point for the girl where she then appears with a wax effigy of him and some very nasty looking pins, So you get the basic outline and you may well have guessed what indeed the girl is becoming and what her mother was before her, so sympathy for Mr Lee after all?You can decide.


The Cloak
Starring: Jon Pertwee (Paul Henderson), Ingrid Pitt (Carla Lind)

This Segment opens up with a great scene with Pertwee and Pitt riding in the back of a classic car in full actor regalia, she has the long floppy hat whilst smoking a cigarette and he in the full actor cravat, They arrive at the house and immediately fall in love with it, Paul Henderson (Pertwee) is working on his new movie Invasion of the Blood suckers which upon seeing the script dismisses the title as Ludacris (Maybe a dig by director Dufell?) and to say he is a Diva is an understatement! He arrives on set only to dismiss pretty much everyone around him and even the set which he repeatedly pokes with his walking stick saying “You could push peas through that!” also a classic line he says is something along the lines of “I love all the classic horror movies, Frankenstein, The Wolfman and Dracula, The Bela Lugosi one of course not that new chap!” So being a real method actor he sets out to find a real Cloak to make his role seem as authentic as possible he comes across an old curiosity shop (also featured in many a great Amicus movie) where the shop owner gives an old cloak that will work perfectly, with him purchasing it and leaving the shop the shopkeeper utters the words “I can now rest in peace” you then see him try the cloak on in his trailer only to notice that his reflection has disappeared in the mirror! Cue scene shoot, where he has to bite the neck of Ingrid Pitt where he takes it a little too far and actually bites her, much to her disdain and annoyance, So what is with this mysterious cloak? We get to find this out when he returns home and Ingrid appears in a great scene an the iconic image of the great Ingrid that is now seen all over the place, in all this it has to be said in my opinion is the weakest segment, it takes the turn from earlier stories that featured Maniacs, Murderers and witch’s to more of a comedic element, Something that was totally intentional according to Peter Dufell in the short documentary and like he said that’s why after this part of the film it couldn’t really return to serious scares, this leads to a showdown between Pertwee and Detective Holloway (John Bennet) that seems more Keystone Cops than classic Amicus with the frame rate speeded up to almost slapstick levels, we are then left with Mr Stoker asking “Do you know the secret of the house?” And just in case you don’t he does tell you.


So in summing up, My first film from the Amicus box set may not be the best received but for me personally it but a whole lot of great memories back and with each story running approximately between 20-25 minutes you certainly never get bored just a warm nostalgic feeling of seeing a classic that you may not have seen in years, Next time I shall be bringing you my thought on And Now the Screaming starts,

Jonny T.



No comments:

Post a Comment