It seems crazy to me that as a Brit and lover of Horror, that I am only now writing my first article on an Amicus Productions, a company that became notorious over their 15 year span between the early 60s and late 70s, and much like their counterpart Hammer Horror, boasted Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee as their key stars.
The House That Dripped Blood which celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year, was released at the height of their success not only lays claim to these fine British actors but also stars fellow actors Denholm Elliott, Ingrit Pitt, and Jon Pertwee.
To top it off, the four stories that make up the anthology in this film were originally penned by Robert Bloch (Psycho).
Each of the tales are strung together by Inspector Holloway from Scotland Yard who is investigating the disappearance of film star Paul Henderson (Pertwee) from the titular house, which harbours some strange events over the years.
The first tale, Method For Murder sees Denholm Elliot as a horror writer, Charles who moves into the country abode with his wife Alice. Whilst there, Charles throws himself into his work where he comes up with a menacing psychopath Dominic. When he starts to see visions of the murderous strangler, Charles begins to question his sanity. Is Dominic really a figment of his imagination or part of Charles’ split personality manifested to enact his inner and darkest thoughts.
The second tale, Waxworks stars Cushing as a recently retired stockbroker, Philip who stumbles upon a wax museum in his local town that contains a mannequin that strikes an uncanny resemblance to a woman that he once loved.
Philip automatically senses that there is something evil about the museum and swears never to return, but when his friend Neville (Joss Ackland when he had hair) arrives, both find themselves drawn once again into the spiritual domain and its maniacal owner, Grayson (Wolfe Morris).
By the third tale, Sweets to the Sweet featuring Christopher Lee as a widower, John, comes around, it is obvious that there is something untoward about the house and the power it has over its occupants. John is typically reserved and apparently over protective of his daughter, Jane. When a former teacher Ann moves in to be the young girl’s Governess, she at first suspects John of cruel and malicious treatment, but it soon becomes clear that there is more to Jane than meets the eye.
The last tale, The Cloak comes full circle and picks up with Paul Henderson (Pertwee) a brash and unlikable actor, who believes that he is above all those around him. Unhappy with the set design and costume department of his low budget feature, Paul takes it upon himself to get his own costume, namely a vampire cloak. The cloak though contains a dark energy though that slowly turns its wearer into a creature of the night.
At first I was a little unsure of the anthological approach to the movie but each of the stories involved are solid and compact, held together by fantastical elements and strengthened by a bloody good cast. They may stretch into the melodramatic, but I for one enjoyed every minute of it, especially its conclusion and the breaking down of the fourth wall.
- Saul Muerte