Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The House that Dripped Blood (1971)

Robert Bloch-scripted anthology film from the always excellent Amicus Productions centers around a sinister rental property and the misfortunes of those who reside there. In "Method for Murder," a thriller writer (Denholm Elliott) is literally pestered by his latest creation, a dastardly strangler named Dominic. He is believed only by Stephen King, who cribs the idea for his novel The Dark Half. Meanwhile, Peter Cushing obsesses over a "Waxworks" museum where one of the displays resembles a former paramour. That Salome was a real head case, turns out. In "Sweets to the Sweet," Christopher Lee plays a frosty widow/father who disallows his daughter any toys or even friendship with other children; her new tutor takes umbrage but soon learns about the voodoo she do. Finally, a prissy horror film actor (Jon Pertwee) searches a curio shop for suitable vampire attire for his next picture. But "The Cape" he purchases is a little too realistic, as his co-star already knows, beautiful bloodsucker that she is. Fun atmosphere, brisk storytelling, numerous genre in-jokes, including several swipes taken at contemporary critics who complained about Hammer's typical gore and violence; at one point while wandering the wax museum, Cushing strolls dismissively past a figure of his co-star Lee as Dracula. But it's Pertwee who gets the best stuff, at one point mulling a mantle portrait of himself in his Doctor Who garb. The framing device -- a Scotland Yard officer investigating the disappearance of Pertwee's character -- has a weak payoff, but the individual stories are what counts.

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