The House That Dripped Blood (1970)

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Released 15-Feb-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Peter Duffell (Director)
Featurette-Interviews With Director Peter Duffell And Cast Members
Trailer-The Amicus Collection
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1970
Running Time 97:12 (Case: 102)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (76:25) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Peter Duffell
Studio
Distributor
Amicus Productions
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring John Bryans
John Bennett
John Malcolm
Denholm Elliott
Joanna Dunham
Robert Lang
Tom Adams
Peter Cushing
Joss Ackland
Wolfe Morris
Christopher Lee
Chloe Franks
Nyree Dawn Porter
Case PUSH-1 (Opaque)
RPI $24.95 Music Michael Dress


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Amicus were the kings of multi-story horror films. One third of their total output of twenty-seven productions were in this form. The House That Dripped Blood was the third, and the second written by prolific American pulp writer Robert Bloch after 1967's Torture Garden.

    This film contains four stories (based on short stories previously published by Bloch) linked by a framing story into which the last story dovetails. An actor has gone missing, and a Scotland Yard policeman (John Bennett) is called in to investigate. The local bobby tells him tales about the previous owners of the house, as does the real estate agent, one A. J. Stoker (the A surely stands for Abraham).

    In the first story, a horror story writer, Charles Hillyer (Denholm Elliott), moves into the house with his wife, Alice (Joanna Dunham). Hillyer needs quiet to finish his book, but his creation, Dominic (Tom Adams wearing Boris Karloff's makeup from The Old Dark House), an insane murderer, soon begins to haunt him. Seeking the aid of a psychiatrist (Robert Lang), Hillyer continues to have visions of Dominic, leading him to think he is going mad - but is he? This episode is based on Bloch's story Method For Murder, first published in the magazine Fury in 1962. The film follows the story quite closely.

    The second tale features Peter Cushing as Philip Grayson, who retires to the house to live his lonely existence, comforted only by his photo of his lost love, his cravats and his recording of Death and the Maiden. While wandering through the town one day he comes across a wax museum, in which the figure of Salome bears a strong resemblance to the woman he loved. Then into his life comes old friend Neville (Joss Ackland), also a cravat fancier, who loved the same woman (now deceased). He becomes obsessed by the waxwork, leading to unfortunate results. This story is based on Waxworks, first published in the pages of Weird Tales in 1939. In the story, the character of Neville does not appear and the owner of the wax museum has a much larger role. The ending is also quite different. Apparently producer Milton Subotsky rewrote the screenplay considerably, much to the chagrin of Bloch.

    Next up the uptight John Reid (Christopher Lee) moves into the house with his young daughter, Jane (Chloe Franks). Reid refuses to send Jane to school, and instead engages a private tutor, Ann (Nyree Dawn Porter), to look after her education. Ann soon learns that Jane is no ordinary child, and that Reid has a dark secret about his dead wife. The original story, Sweets to the Sweet, comes from Weird Tales in 1947, and is slightly different from the film, in that the character of Ann does not appear and the denouement is even more shocking.

    Finally, a comic tale about the missing actor. Paul Henderson (Jon Pertwee) rents the house while making yet another of the schlock horror films for which he is famous. The cheesy film has ultra-low production values, and Henderson does not find the cloak he is expected to wear sufficiently authentic-looking. This leads him to seek his own, and he stumbles into the costumery of Theo von Hartmann (Geoffrey Bayldon, made up to look like Ernest Thesiger in Bride of Frankenstein). Hartmann supplies Henderson with a cloak which has a certain effect on him when he wears it, as his leading lady Carla (Ingrid Pitt) soon finds out. Bloch's The Cloak first saw the light of day in Unknown in 1939. In the original, Henderson acquires the cloak to take to a fancy dress party, with much the same result.

    In the end, our intrepid and sceptical inspector heads off to the house in question. Big mistake.

    As these sort of films go, this isn't a bad effort, much better in fact than Torture Garden. Apart from having an excellent cast, with stand-out performances by Cushing, Lee and Franks, the stories are all better written. Bloch's trademark twists in the tail and sardonic humour make this quite enjoyable. The last story would have been a lot better had the original choice to play the ageing horror-meister, Vincent Price, been available. He was keen to do the film but was unable to do so due to contractual arrangements. Pertwee is okay but goes a little over the top. The second story has some unfortunate resonances, as Cushing's wife was terminally ill at the time and he was reluctant to appear in the film at all.

    All of the episodes are well directed by Peter Duffell, especially the middle two. Good use is made of the interiors of the house, with no two episodes filmed in the same rooms. While this movie does not deliver any real shocks, it does create some atmosphere and disquiet, in the style of older horror flicks. Well worth seeking out, though it is only available as part of the six-disc Amicus Collection.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer is in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, not too dissimilar to the original 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer afforded to the film is quite good in many respects. The level of detail is very good, with a sharp image virtually throughout. Contrast is good, and the video is nice and bright without being washed out. Because of the film stock used during that era (which can also be seen on Hammer films for example), it does not have the vividness and clarity of earlier colour footage, looking little different from TV material.

    There are a number of film artefacts. Throughout there are frequent white flecks and dark specks, plus occasional faint scratches and bits of fluff. Otherwise there are no significant artefacts.

    No subtitles are provided.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted with the layer break positioned at 76:25, just as Henderson heads off to buy his cloak. As it is placed at a cut, it is not very disruptive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The sole audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

    This is a satisfactory soundtrack that does the job required. While dialogue is slightly sibilant at times, it is clear and I had no trouble understanding any of it. The sound is thin at times but there is sufficient body and bass to make it a reasonable listen. Effects and music come across well.

    The music score is by Michael Dress. It is somewhat dissonant and quite eerie at times, for example the clanging bells and clockwork sounds in the first story. Quite a good effort as far as this sort of film is concerned.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    The main menu features some of the soundtrack music.

Audio Commentary-Peter Duffell (Director)

    Jonathon Rigby moderates this interview with the director of the film. Rigby seems to know a lot about Amicus, the production of this film and the cast, and Duffell's recollections of the film are clear and interesting. This is an enjoyable and revealing commentary.

Featurette-Interviews With Director Peter Duffell And Cast Members (17:03)

    This is slightly less interesting than the commentary, but we do get to see how Ingrid Pitt, Geoffrey Bayldon and Chloe Franks look today. My player was unable to read the time-coding on this item, but my DVD-ROM drive had no problem.

Trailer-The Amicus Collection (3:28)

    Trailers for The City of the Dead, The Beast Must Die and And Now The Screaming Starts. The first two are letterboxed and look quite poor, especially the second, while the last is 16x9 enhanced and looks a lot better in comparison. These trailers seem to be the same on every one of the discs in this set.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 is nearly identical to the UK Region 2 release, which likewise is available as part of a set called The Amicus Collection and separately. The Region 2 set has only the five films, omitting The City of the Dead.

    The major difference is in the audio section, with the Region 2 having two surround mixes, in DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1, as well as the authentic monaural soundtrack. Extras in addition to those on the Region 4 are cast and director biographies, some production note and extracts from contemporary reviews, and a photo gallery.

    The US Region 1 release seems to emanate from the same transfer as the Region 2, but the sole extra is a short interview with Amicus managing director Max Rosenberg.

    The Region 2 looks to have the edge in terms of extra material, but if that does not interest you, the Region 4 is perfectly acceptable. If you really only want this film and none of the others, the choice is the Region 2.

Summary

    An entertaining series of stories linked by a house that does not drip blood.

    The video and audio quality are quite good for a film of this type.

    The commentary is a very good extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Monday, March 28, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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