• House That Dripped Blood

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: May 8th, 2017.
    Director: Peter Duffell
    Cast: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Ingrid Pitt, Denholm Elliott, Jon Pertwee, Robert Lang
    Year: 1971
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    The Movie:

    Directed for Amicus Studios in 1971 by Peter Duffell and based on writing by Robert Bloch, The House That Dripped Blood stands as the finest of the many anthology horror pictures that the studio remains best known for to this day. And with good reason – it’s stylish, clever, spooky and a Hell of a lot of fun.

    The four stories that make up the feature all revolve around the same house, an aging mansion that was, at one point at least, probably quite the place. We learn by way of a real estate agent named A.J. Stoker (John Bryans), however, that everyone who has lived there for the last while has died an untimely and unusual death. Scotland Yard’s Holloway (John Bennett), who is working on a case involving the disappearance of an actor, learns of the house from a cop named Sergeant Martin (John Malcolm).

    In our first story, Method For Murder, a horror writer named Charles Hillyer (Denholm Elliott) takes up residence in the house with his lovely wife Alice (Joanna Dunham). Charles soon starts to believe that a character named Dominick (Tom Adams) created for one of his novels has come to life and intends to do him in – but no one else ever seems to see Dominick but Charles. Eventually Joanna is almost strangled to death at which point we learn if Dominick is real or not. If this is the weakest of the four stories it’s still top notch. Elliott is great in the lead and Tom Adams does an excellent job playing the killer. There’s a fun twist here and it’s paced quite well.

    The second story, Waxworks, revolves around an aging bachelor named Philip Grayson (Peter Cushing) who decides to pay a visit to a weird old wax museum only to come across a wax statue of Salome that he realizes looks exactly like his old lover. From there, his old friend Neville Rogers (Joss Ackland) comes to visit him at the house where, after a talk, he becomes interested in seeing the statue for himself – after all, Neville had a serious crush on the woman that Grayson carried a torch for as well. Of course, with some help from the eccentric museum official (Wolfe Morris) they learn the hard way that this is no average wax statue – which leads to a fantastic ending. Cushing is in top shape here and the finale to this story is the best of the four tales. The buildup is great and the wax museum is effectively creepy. Great stuff.

    Sweets To The Sweet tells the story of John Reid (Christopher Lee), the father of a girl named Jane (Chloe Franks) who he keeps away from other kids and essentially keeps at a distance himself. Why? Because her mother may have been a witch, and it seems that the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. Jane’s nanny, Ann Norton (Nyree Dawn Porter), tries her best to smooth things over but soon enough, it’s clear that Jane resents being treated the way that John has been treating her all this while, and so she decides to do something about it. Lee is his typically reliable self here, playing the rather harsh father figure character well, but it’s Chloe Franks who really makes an impression – she’s great, and every part Lee’s equal in so many ways. This story builds tension really well and features some great camerawork that effectively accentuates the conflict in interesting ways.

    The fourth and final story, The Cloak, follows Paul Henderson (Jon Pertwee), an aging horror movie star that has grown tired of playing the same types of roles in the same types of B-movies. For his latest endeavor he feels that his wardrobe needs and upgrade and so he buys a fancy cloak from a secondhand store run by a quirky old guy named Von Hartmann (Geoffrey Bayldon). Soon enough, the cloak turns Henderson into an actual vampire, at which point his buxom co-star, Carla (Ingrid Pitt), lets him in a on little secret of her own. And of course, before it’s all over Holloway’s investigation is also wrapped up quite neatly. Pertwee, best known as the Third Doctor on the BBC’s Doctor Who, and Pitt are an absolute blast in this one. Both of them throw themselves into the role and give one hundred percent. The most humorous of the four stories is also nicely paced and, if the ending is a little easy to figure out, this one holds up incredibly well.

    All in all, The House That Dripped Blood remains a lot of good, spooky fun. Duffell shows great control over the pacing of the production, the bookend segments never feel too crammed into the works as is often the case with anthology horrors and the fantastic cast all do great work. The picture is colorful and really nicely shot, the score works really well and if this was all done on a fairly modest budget it never shows in ways that are detrimental to the overall quality of the production. Great stuff, through and through.


    The House That Dripped Blood debuts on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and looking very good indeed. The colors really pop here and look very strong, while black levels are strong and deep. The image is remarkably clean and shows almost no print damage at all, while still retaining a nice amount of visible film grain throughout and thus remaining a pretty organic looking transfer. Skin tones look nice and natural and detail and texture far surpass past DVD editions. No complains here, the film looks great.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track is clean, clear and properly balanced. Dialogue is always easy to follow and to understand and we get nice depth and range to both the score and effects. There are no issues with any hiss or distortion and optional English subtitles are included.

    As far as the extras go, while Shout! Factory hasn’t marketed this as one of their Scream Factory Collector’s Edition releases, the disc is still pretty stacked. We start off with an audio commentary by film historian/author Troy Howarth in which he does a nice job of detailing the film’s history and that of its many participants while simultaneously offering up his take on the film as it plays out. It’s a pretty scene specific talk but an interesting one as he covers his personal connection to the film, Robort Bloch’s writing for the picture, attempts to get Vincent Price on board, the quality of the different performances featured in the picture, Ingrid Pritt’s remarkable cleavage and quite a bit more. Lots of information here, delivered with a good sense of humor too. Ported over from the Amicus Collection DVD set (Remember that? It came in a cool looking but impractical coffin shaped box!) that came out in 2003 via Anchor Bay’s UK division is an archival commentary featuring the film’s late director Peter Duffell and author Jonathan Rigby. For those who haven’t heard it before, it’s a solid track. Rigby keeps Duffell engaged throughout as he walks us through his side of the story of the making of the film. He talks about his dislike of the film’s release title, the locations that were used in the shoot, working with the different cast members and his thoughts on collaborating with them and much more.

    Also new to this release is an interview with second assistant director Mike Higgins that clocks in at just over nine-minutes. He looks back on his time on set pretty amiably and seems to have enjoyed working on the film as, seemingly, did most everyone else. He also talks up the sets and locations, the schedule and working with Duffell. Also included here is a seventeen-minute archival featurette entitled A-Rated Horror Film which is made up of vintage interviews with Duffell and cast members Geoffrey Bayldon, Ingrid Pitt and Chloe Franks. This also originally appeared on the UK DVD release and it’s an interesting and thorough piece. Duffell repeats some of the information from his commentary but it’s nice to get perspective on the film from the three cast members

    Aside from that we get English and Spanish theatrical trailers, a handful of radio spots for the film, a collection of radio spots for other Amicus releases with a related still gallery to go with it, a nice still gallery of archival images and ephemera, menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    What’s not to love? Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray release of The House That Dripped Blood – Amicus’ finest anthology film – is great. The presentation quality is very strong and there’s a nice selection of extras both old and new for fans to dig through. The movie itself remains a high point in the studio’s run of anthology films, a classic horror picture with a great cast and some wonderfully dark humor.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!