Not the Perfect Vacation Home – Bloodbath at the House of Death (1984)

What should have been a surefire hit, what with a title like Bloodbath at the House of Death, turned out to be a mixed bag of good and bad with the latter usually outweighing the former. Mixing horror and comedy together in one film only works when the writer understands both genres intrinsically and here, Ray Cameron and Barry Cryer seemed to miss a beat or two.

The movie opens with the best of intentions, catering to those who are looking for a great horror film but it slowly devolves into pure comedy with only thin slices of horror throughout. Sadly, that comedy is not up to par as it is hardly funny in the slightest. There are a few bits that might elicit a chuckle such as a woman offering up her chest in order to be spared from those killing everyone in the house or the over-the-top performance from Vincent Price, but they are few and far between and make it a chore to watch at times. One has to really love this quirky and eccentric form of British comedy to get the most out of this picture though the parodies that were mocked throughout were perhaps its saving grace, whether it was Aliens or Star Wars.

The cast was very talented, most of them known for other things and getting them all together should have produced something worth remembering but this movie is not it. Price was the standout, as he always is when he appears in something, giving his best John Carradine impression as the lead Satanic follower but his moments on the screen were far and few between. Comedian Kenny Everett and actress Pamela Stephenson also star in the lead while Gareth Hunt, Don Warrington, John Fortune and more back them up, everyone doing an exceptional job of moving the picture along. While the comedy might not have been the best, the horror bits were decent and inventive, perhaps the best example being when a woman got her head cut off with a can opener. Sadly, while sometimes explicit, there was a distinct lack of blood to go with any of it the kills which was quite disappointing and lessened the impact of them as well.

As with anything, there are those that are going to love this movie praising the various aspects of it and those that do not. Such as it is, it is not all bad but it falls short of being great, it needing a far more clever script to bridge the parodies and those moments of horror to make for a more compelling film. At the end of the day, Bloodbath at the House of Death remains an exceptional curiosity though, one that should be experienced at least one time.

2.5 out of 5

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