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DVD Review: The House That Dripped Blood (1971)

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The House That Dripped Blood (1971)

Directed by Peter Duffell

DVD: The House That Dripped Blood (1971)The House That Dripped Blood is an anthology of four Robert Bloch stories that are strung together by their connection to a house where all but one of the tenants have met with an unpleasant end. The last tenant was a famous film star. What became of him is a mystery because he disappeared. Scotland Yard send Inspectror Holloway to find out what happened to the star, and Holloway’s investigation forms a kind of wrap-around story that pulls the rest of the stories together.

John Malcolm and Johm Bennett in a scene from The House That Dripped Blood (1971)

At first Holloway is annoyed at being given the case and he is quick to tell the desk sergeant that he has more important things to do than chasing temperamental film stars. But the sergeant informs Holloway that this is not the first time that something has happened to a tenant of the house. He then presents him with a file about it, and this is how the first two stories are introduced—with the estate agent, Mr Stoker, filling in the blanks about the final two tenants.

Denholm Elliott and Joanna Dunham in a scene from The House That Dripped Blood (1971)

In "Method for Murder"  Denholm Elliot stars as horror writer, Charles Hillyer, who needs somewhere to rent while he writes his next book. Hilyer thinks that the house is perfect for his needs, he and his wife move in, and work on the book begins. The central character in Hilyer's book is a strangler, named Dominick, and he becomes so real to Hilyer that the book is almost writing itself. The problems begin when Dominick stops being just a figment of Hilyer’s imagination and begins to appear around the house and gardens.

Peter Cushing Checks out the waxworks in a scene from The House That Dripped Blood (1971)

The tenant in the "Waxworks" segment is a retired businessman named Philip Grayson (Peter Cushing). Like the former tenant, he considers the old house perfect for his needs, and intends to spend a great deal of time reading books and listening to music. When he has settled in Grayson takes a stroll into town and visits the waxwork museum. The museum is a dreary place and most of the waxworks are of killers, but one dummy stands out from the rest: a staggeringly lifelike model of Salome, holding the head of John-the-Baptist on a tray in front of her. Grayson becomes so captivated by the waxen beauty that he finds it hard to tear himself away. Shortly after this, Grayson’s friend, Neville, pays him a visit and—against Grayson’ better judgement—they visit the museum together. Neville also falls under the spell of Salome, but he is not so successful at escaping her, and later tells Grayson that the museum is an evil place. He is, of course, very right about that.

Christopher Lee in a scene from The House That Dripped Blood (1971)

In "Sweets for the Sweet" John Reid (Christopher Lee) and his daughter, Jane, move into the house. Reid is a stern man and, as he does not want his little girl to mix with other children, he hires a private teacher to tutor her. Jane’s new teacher, Mrs Norton, can see that that Jane is a bright girl, but Mrs Norton can also see that she is a problem child. After she has been at the house a while Mrs Norton realizes that John Reid has some problems of his own and grows to believe that he may be frightened of his daughter. Later she learns why he is so afraid of Jane, but by then it is much too late.

Jon Pertwee and Ingrid Pitt in a scene from The House That Dripped Blood (1971)

"The Cloak" is the final story. Jon Pertwee stars as horror actor, John Henderson, and Ingrid Pitt plays the leading lady in his new vampire movie. Henderson needs somewhere to stay until the movie is finished and becomes the house’s latest tenant. Henderson loves the house, but he is not so happy with his work. He considers the quality of the set to be very poor and is so disgusted by the cloak the costume department give him that he refuses to wear it, goes off in search of something a little more authentic, and finds exactly that when he visits an antiques shop. Henderson’s new cloak used to belong to a real vampire and every time Henderson wears it his dentistry goes haywire and he has a job keeping his feet on the ground. Worse still he tries to bite his co-star, who does not appreciate him trying to take a chunk out of her.

"Method for Murder" is my favourite story. It is easily the darkest of the four tales and I defy any viewer not to feel a shiver down their spines whenever Dominick appears on screen. I found "Waxworks" the weakest story. The storyline is a little vague in places and this one might almost have been thrown in as a filler. In fact, if it was not for Cushing’s presence I would have been tempted to hit fast forward. "Sweets for the Sweet" is quite an enjoyable tale and, although it becomes a little predictable towards the end, Christopher Lee manages to keep it interesting. "The Cloak" is the most humorous story and I found it hard to keep a smile off my face whenever Jon Pertwee was on screen. I wanted to try and take the story seriously, but something about Pertwee’s expressions, voice and attitude always prevented me from doing so. The scene where he uses his finger to explore his new teeth is classic!

DVD Review: The House That Dripped Blood (1971)

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I enjoyed watching The House That Dripped Blood, but if I wanted to nit-pick I might point out that neither the police sergeant nor the estate agent could have any way of knowing the facts of the stories. Especially the last one because nobody witnessed John Henderson’s fate. The movie does not contain any scenes of sex or nudity and there is no gore whatsoever. Neither is there any dripping blood—not a drop—so if you were expecting any of these things you will be disappointed. I’d never seen the movie before I watched this DVD and I had no idea what to expect, but I was not disappointed because the movie has so many familiar faces. If you are a fan of Denholm Elliot, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Ingrid Pitt or Jon Pertwee you would probably enjoy watching The House That Dripped Blood, even though the title is a little misleading. If, however, a not so subtle mix of flesh and gore, fast moving action and special effects, are more up your street, The House That Dripped Blood will be in the entirely wrong kind of neighbourhood and you will need to look elsewhere.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Runtime 97 mins
Certificate: 12 (UK), PG (USA)


Denholm Elliott
Joanna Dunham
Tom Adams
Robert Lang

Peter Cushing
Joss Ackland
Wolfe Morris

Christopher Lee
Nyree Dawn Porter
Chloe Franks
Hugh Manning
Carleton Hobbs

Jon Pertwee
Ingrid Pitt
Geoffrey Bayldon
Richard Coe
Jonathan Lynn
Winifred Sabine
Bernard Hopkins

John Bennett
John Bryans
John Malcolm



Charles Hillyer 
Alice Hillyer 

Philip Grayson 
Neville Rogers 
Waxworks Proprietor 

John Reid 
Ann Norton 
Jane Reid 
Dr. Bailey 

Paul Henderson 
Carla Lind 
Theo Von Hartmann
Mr. Talmadge 
Mr. Petrich 
Assistant Director 

Detective Inspector Holloway
A.J. Stoker
Police Sergeant Martin


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