Sunday, October 29, 2006


Another pairing of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing (see THE CREEPING FLESH below), though in separate episodes of a horror anthology film. As a short-story lover (Ray Bradbury's collections were the first "adult" books I read), I like the idea of an anthology film, but in practice it doesn't come off all that well, with rare exceptions like the 1945 DEAD OF NIGHT, and this film is not one of the exceptions. The four tales all take place in a mysterious house which, despite the title, never comes close to dripping blood. The wraparound story involves a Scotland Yard inspector (John Bennett) looking into the disappearance of a horror film star (Jon Pertwee, best known as the 1970's Doctor Who) who had been living in the spooky old house. We then see the stories of three previous residents. The first tale features Denholm Elliot as a horror writer renting the house with his wife (Joanna Dunham); he's trying to finish a novel about a strangler but his efforts get derailed when the ficitonal killer seems to be coming to life and popping up all around the house. The secret here is easy to figure out, but it's still a fun story and the underrated Elliot is fun to watch. In the second tale, two old friends (Cushing and Joss Ackland) become obsessed with visiting a wax museum which has a model of Salome that resembles an old flame from their past. Lee stars in the next episode as a widower who hires a nanny to keep an eye on his young daughter, who may or may not be practicing voodoo. Finally, we go back to the frame story about an actor who buys a second-hand cloak to inspire him in his current role as a vampire; he finds out that clothes do make the man, or in this case, the vampire. Overall, about average for this kind of film--the screenplay by Robert Bloch is fine, but the production values could be better, and the direction by Peter Duffell is quite made-for-Tvish. [DVD]

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