The House That Dripped Blood

House That Dripped Blood

The House That Dripped Blood is one of those movies that sits around on your watch-list forever. You keep meaning to watch it, but never do. Well, I finally watched it yesterday! This 70’s British horror anthology comes from Amicus, not Hammer, but stars a number of Hammer stalwarts such as Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Ingrid Pitt. Written by Robert Bloch, The House That Dripped Blood’s frame story is about an inspector investigating the latest in a series of bizarre happenings at a house.

There are four tales. In the first, a horror writer and his wife rent a house in the countryside. He’s writing a potboiler about a strangler terrifying the countryside and needs inspiration; pretty soon he has all the inspiration he can handle. The second story is about a retired bachelor (Peter Cushing) who wanders into a Wax Museum of Horrors, where he sees a waxwork figure who is the spitting image of his dead lover.

The third yarn concerns a widower (Christopher Lee), his young daughter and the woman he hires as a nanny. Mr. Lee displays a strange aversion towards his own child, even throwing her doll into the fire, an act he later lives to regret. The fourth story is my favorite. An over-the-hill horror actor (played by a scenery-chewing Jon Pertwee) is on the prowl for a decent cape. He finds the perfect cape, which – unfortunately for him – belonged to a real vampire.

I’m sure The House That Dripped Blood didn’t cost a lot of money. I liked it, though! The stories are decent and all contain Twilight Zone twists, but believe me when I say you’ve seen it before. I do like the fact that Mr. Bloch doesn’t try to convey any sort of moral message. Be warned that some of the outfits the stars wear might give you sun glare.

 

Horror Hotel/City of the Dead

I learned about Horror Hotel, aka City of the Dead, in an article I read about folk horror. To be honest, I’d never heard of this movie and thus didn’t expect much. I was pleasantly surprised. Released in 1960 in black-and-white, Horror Hotel is one of the better horror flicks I’ve seen in the past few months.

The plot: college student Nan Barlow travels to the town of Whitewood, Massachusetts on the recommendation of her professor (Christopher Lee) to research witchcraft. She goes despite the protests of her boyfriend and her brother, who are so obnoxious I think she makes the trek to get away from them. Nan picks up a hitchhiker named Jethrow enroute to Whitewood. When Jethrow vanishes upon arrival Nan doesn’t blink an eye, which means she either doesn’t believe in the supernatural or isn’t too smart. She definitely didn’t read the script.

Whitewood is the type of place that would make most sane people turn around and drive away. It’s always foggy and dark. The blind priest warns Nan off. Ghostly singing voices drift up from the trapdoor in our heroine’s room. The woman who owns the Raven’s Inn looks just like Elizabeth Selwyn, burned for witchcraft almost three hundred years ago. Clueless Nan soldiers on, at one point reading a treatise on human sacrifice to the head witch, who does a fine job keeping a straight face.

Horror Hotel is not perfect. Neither of the movie’s titles fit. The jazzy bebop soundtrack doesn’t work. Mr. Lee is great as usual, but some of the other acting is dreadful. However, Horror Hotel is well written and atmospheric, with a few genuinely disturbing scenes and a riveting ending.

Recommended!