Finally finishing off that Christopher Lee set (that one with the two Jess Franco movies) with a visit to Amicus… whose response to the changes of industry and genre in the early 70s, and to their own declining fortunes, was to look at what had made money for them in the past and make a lot more of it. The result was the string of anthology films they heaved forth in the early 70s, starting herewith. The original title Death and the Maiden would’ve been more suitable, cos that’s ultimately what all the stories come to in one way or another, cos this one’s actually got everything but blood: stranglers, evil children, axe murderers, voodoo, vampirism, Jon Pertwee in bitchin’ shades, Ingrid Pitt’s own voice (she was infamously dubbed in Countess Dracula), a surprising number of other people connected with Doctor Who (including, technically, four different Doctors)… all revolving around a house whose tenants all come to inexplicably horrible ends through the pen of Robert Bloch. The end result is a mix of the serious and the not so serious (much like Dead of Night, for example), and the serious bits (stories one to three) are good enough, they establish a reasonable amount of atmosphere (albeit with mixed production values—the DVD commentary is happily candid about the kind of crap waxworks, for example), but it’s the more humorous last segment that I liked best. A lot of the humour, of course, arises from Pertwee as the insufferable horror actor, a part he plays up for its full shameless mugging potential. (How often was he tempted to act like that clown on the set of Doctor Who?) Not everything works, obviously, but none of the stories are really given the chance to crap on for too long or anything, not when they’ve only got 100 minutes to accommodate four stories and a frame. Must’ve seemed terribly old-fashioned even in 1971, but kind of fun for all that.
The House That Dripped Blood (1971)