Hot on the heels of his “31 Days of Hammer” in January, Jules is at it again in March, treating us to a chronological run through the classic era of British Horror, from the late ’50s to the end of the ’70s, with one review every day for the entire month.
You can check out the rest of our “31 Days of British Horror” by CLICKING HERE.
Starring: Denholm Elliot, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Jon Pertwee, Ingrid Pitt
Director: Peter Duffell
Settling into their groove by 1968, Amicus wasted no time in cranking out yet another portmanteau.
Again, drawing on the writing talents of Psycho’s Robert Bloch, the film would pull in now-stalwarts like Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, but also add some more top drawer talent such as Denholm Elliot, Ingrid Pitt and Jon Pertwee. For once, all four stories are uniformly strong, of not stunning, but are let down by a lacklustre framing sequence.
When a film star disappears after renting an old house, Inspector Holloway (John Bennett) from Scotland Yard is called to investigate. Speaking to the premises’ estate agent (John Bryans), he finds out that the house has a history of strange deaths…
First up is Method For Murder, which stars the brilliant Denholm Elliott as Charles Hillyer, a hack horror author who moves into the house with his wife to write his next book, featuring a mad strangler called Dominic. Despite existing only as a drawing and as a figment of Hillyer’s imagination, Dominic appears to be more real than the author would like…
A simple little tale this one, with a nice double twist as a punchline and bolstered by the always-reliable Denholm Elliot who just raises the bar on anything he’s ever in. “Dominic” is suitably menacing too.
Waxworks sees two friends (Peter Cushing and Joss Ackland) both become fixated on a beautiful waxwork dummy of a woman, based on the deceased wife of the proprietor (Wolfe Morris). Script wise, this is probably the weakest of the lot and certainly the most predictable, but both Cushing and Ackland are as eminently watchable as ever.
Christopher Lee is at his haughty and cold best in Sweets To The Sweet as John Reid, who hires Ann, a private teacher (Nyree Dawn Porter) for his daughter Jane (Chloe Franks), who he seems to be keeping almost a prisoner in the house, forbidding her even to have a doll. Lee is quite unpleasant here, marvellously so in fact, all icy contempt and impatience. You’re naturally as appalled as Ann by how badly he treats his daughter, but there’s a very good reason for that, as her deceased mum was a witch and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. A little gem this one.
Not long before he took over the lead role in Doctor Who, Jon Pertwee got to almost trial run his arrogant and aloof dandy in a frilly shirt and cape combo in The Cloak. He plays an actor in a horror film who is as obnoxious as they come, but on purchasing a cape for his latest role, discovers it turns him into a real vampire when he wears it.
Pertwee is absolutely brilliant casting for this type of character, as playing talented, but pompous and self-important actor is…well let’s just say he wouldn’t have to draw too deeply for it. The wonderful Ingrid Pitt is in this one too and is as charismatic as ever, delivering a gorgeously mischievous performance. You can’t go wrong, can you?
The only downside is the framing sequence is far too mundane. A dry estate agent talking to a policeman isn’t the most horrific of scenarios, but they’re at least mercifully short, plus the actual film finale works really well, so it’s the smallest of quibbles.
The House That Dripped Blood is another little cracker from Amicus, who had really found their mojo by this point. It’s not groundbreaking or particularly awe-inspiring, but it’s a hell of a lot fun. And sometimes, that’s all you need.
The Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy