If These Walls Could Talk – The House That Dripped Blood (1971)

In 1971, Amicus Productions would release yet another horror anthology titled The House That Dripped Blood. While there would be no dripping blood or even any blood of any kind, the title at least tells the viewer that they will be in for some scares should they decide to tune in and there were at least a few throughout this picture.

Starring a plethora of talented actors and actresses including Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Ingrid Pitt among them, the film would be split up into four different stories with the familiar plot device of a framing sequence and all of them written by the great Robert Bloch. A couple of the stories are stronger than others and that is to be expected but all of them turn out to be entertaining in their own way, playing upon the senses more through the psychological than the physical. Whether through hallucinations or delusions or good old-fashioned fear, Bloch runs his characters through the wringer in the short amount of time they are given the spotlight for and in the end, barely a single one escapes unscathed.

The tale that opens the film is called Method for Murder, about a writer who cannot write and needs to get away in order to get his creative juices going again. Renting a quaint little house that seems just made for him does the trick but soon, as the man named Charles Hilyer who is played by Denholm Elliot is in the middle of creating a mystery with a serial killer, a character so real that he often sees him in everyday life, soon becomes a chilling reality and it ends as one might expect with a slight twist. The second is called Waxworks and as some might intuit, deals with a wax museum. Starring Cushing in the lead, he rents the same house so that he might take up the hobbies he never had time for in his working life. A trip to the local wax museum changes everything when he sees a dummy who looks like a woman he loved. Making things even more complicated is the arrival of an old friend, once a romantic rival and to make matters worse, of the woman whose figure is now on display in the museum. As it turns out, she might not have died a natural death.

The third story entitled Sweets to the Sweet features Hammer stalwart Christopher Lee as a father of a young girl, looking to rent a house a little out of the way as well as a teacher to tutor the young girl. He is not the best dad nor she the best daughter though nothing seems out of the ordinary. That all starts to change soon enough on both sides and the real villain of the piece soon comes to light, though who is to say things could not have turned out differently with a kind word given here or there. Finally, in The Cloak, Jon Pertwee and the aforementioned Pitt appear as an entitled actor and his arm candy respectively in a short about vampirism. Pertwee’s character is a man that thinks he knows it all about the things that go bump in the night but when he buys a mysterious cloak that might be turning him into a vampire, he realizes he does not know it all quite yet.

At one point this was supposed to be a comedy and there are glimpses of that, most prominently in the final episode starring Pertwee and while it might have worked, making it a straight horror film was probably for the best, especially as it would star Cushing and Lee who are associated with the genre more than anything else. Director Peter Duffell creates a moody picture in lieu of the laughs and though there is some palpable suspense and a little tension running throughout, it is not altogether that scary. As mentioned, a couple of these are better than the others with Lee’s story being the best of the bunch, as horror featuring children always tends to be a little scarier than the norm.

As far as Amicus anthologies go, The House That Dripped Blood may not have been the best of the bunch but even at their worst, which this movie is not, they are far better than many of their brethren and at the end of the day, this was well worth the time to watch.

3 out of 5

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