The House That Dripped Blood (1971) – 31 Days of Horror: Oct 17

by Jovial Jay

This trailer for The House That Dripped Blood promises something for everyone: Vampires, Voodoo, Vixens and Victims! Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Denholm Elliott, Jon Pertwee are listed in the cast! Ring the doorbell and let’s see what greets you!

Originally I had two anthology films here back-to-back. They both have the word “house” in their titles, but Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors didn’t really take place in a house. And since this is a Haunted House marathon, I present The House That Dripped Blood!

Before Viewing

Never having seen this film before, the preview doesn’t let the viewer know it’s an Anthology film, made up of three to four shorter stories. What is visible is a creepy house and other spooky goings on! Denholm Elliott sees a strange man in the house, walking around with a candelabra, but it appears as his wife doesn’t believe him. “Terror waits in every room!” A little girl throws a wax doll into the fire, and a man screams in pain. Then someone comes at Peter Cushing with axe and just misses him! Scary shots! Skeleton mask! And then a man is attacked by a vampire! The viewer gets the promise of “Vampires, Voodoo, Vixens and Victims” as Peter Cushing’s head is shown on a platter. All this takes place in The House That Dripped Blood (blood blood blood blood)! I love the echo at the end of the trailer!

Presented below is the Trailer for the film.

Spoiler Warning - Halloween

After Viewing

The House That Dripped Blood is unique as a horror film, because contrary to the title, not a drop of blood drips, spills or otherwise graces the screen. The “frame story” concerns a Scotland Yard Inspector Holloway (John Bennett) investigating the disappearance of an actor. His meetings with a local police office and with real estate broker A.J. Stoker (John Bryans) provide the stories that fill in the narrative of the film. The police officer’s narrative provides the first two stories of terror that are shown.

Method for Murder

House That Dripped Blood

House That Dripped Blood (1971) – Denholm Elliott in “Method for Murder.”

A horror writer Charles (Denholm Elliott) and his wife Alice (Joanna Dunham) rent the house so he can finish his latest book. He imagines, and draws a picture of, an escaped lunatic, Dominick (Tom Adams) that roams the countryside killing people. He begins writing in earnest. Charles starts to see Dominick in and around the house. He even imagines seeing Dominick strangling his wife. But when Charles confronts her, she says it was him doing the strangling. Charles visits a psychiatrist who convinces him it’s just his imagination running away with him. Dominick suddenly appears and strangles the doctor to Charles’ surprise. Back at the house Dominick appears to Alice and pulls off his makeup, revealing her lover, Richard, who admits to killing Charles as well – outside the agreed plan. Richard attacks Alice stating that he doesn’t know any Richard, he’s Dominick!


House That Dripped Blood

House That Dripped Blood (1971) – Peter Cushing in “Waxworks.”

Retired bachelor Philip (Peter Cushing) enjoys the solitude of his new house, puttering about. One day he walks into the local town and visits Jacquelin’s Museum of Horror. He is struck by the beauty of the Salome figure, and how much it reminds him of his crush, Jane. The waxwork owner (Wolfe Morris) remarks on how beautiful she is, and that she used to be his wife. Philip vows not to return, knowing that something is not right in the waxworks. Philip’s friend Neville (Joss Ackland) comes to visit and notices the waxworks. Philip attempts to talk him out of the visit, but Neville too is transfixed by the beauty of the figure. Philip leaves but Neville stays in town beyond his need, and when Philip returns to the waxworks looking for him, finds Neville’s head on Salome’s tray. The proprietor remarks that he was the one that killed his wife, as men kept being attracted to her. They also seem to be attracted to her in death, and he kills Philip, putting his head on the tray.

Sweets to the Sweet

House That Dripped Blood

House That Dripped Blood (1971) – Christopher Lee in “Sweets to the Sweet.”

The last two stories in The House That Dripped Blood are told to Inspector Holloway by Stoker. A father, John Reid (Christopher Lee) and his daughter Jane (Chloe Franks) move in. He hires a nanny/tutor, Ann Norton (Nyree Dawn Porter), to help with his daughter who is not allowed to play with other kids, go to school, or have toys. Ann finds this strange but takes the job, enjoying Jane’s company. She brings Jane some toys after asking her father, but John becomes upset when he see the baby doll Ann has bought, and throws it in the fire. Ann keeps trying to get John to explain why he treats Jane the way he does. He admits he’s afraid of her, the same way he was afraid of her mother. The next day John has some sharp pains in his arm as he’s signing some paperwork, and Ann finds a book that Jane has been reading on witchcraft. That evening John is struck by acute chest pains, and Ann discovers Jane with a wax doll based on her father, that she is stabbing with a pin. Ann tries to get Jane to hand over the doll, but she throws it in the fire. Her father’s screams echo through the house.

The Cloak

House That Dripped Blood

House That Dripped Blood (1971) – Jon Pertwee in “The Cloak.”

The final tale deals with the missing film actor Paul Henderson (Jon Pertwee) that Holloway has been looking for. Henderson needs the house in order to be closer to his film shoot, so he and his co-star/lover Carla (Ingrid Pitt) move in, against Mr. Stokes warning. Perturbed by the lack of authenticity on the vampire film he is making, Henderson visits Von Hartmann’s (Geoffrey Bayldon) costume shop and buys an authentic vampire cloak for the price of 13 shillings. He soon discovers that whenever he puts on the cloak, he becomes a vampire. His reflection goes missing in the mirror, he really bites his co-star, and later he even floats around his house. He vows not to use the cloak, but one night at the stroke of midnight, Carla dares him to try it on, but nothing happens. She then reveals she has the real cloak. She puts it on and attacks him, welcoming him to “the club.”

House That Dripped Blood

House That Dripped Blood (1971) – John Bennett in the frame story.

The film ends with Inspector Holloway venturing to the house alone at night. He finds Hendersons coffin in a locked room in the basement. Vampire Henderson attacks Holloway, but he stabs the creature with a broken stool leg. Unfortunately another coffin opens revealing Vampire Carla, who attacks and kills Holloway. Stoker appears and offers the viewer a chance to rent the house.

It wasn’t…what either of them believed that caused the tragedy. It was the house.” – A.J. Stoker

This film was fun, and interesting in the way that the House tied the stories together. All four stories were written by Robert Bloch between 1939 and 1962 for comics such as Weird Tales and Fury. Bloch is probably best known for writing about another scary house and its residents in Psycho.

Each story got better as they went along. Charles’ story in “Method for Murder” was pretty straightforward, with his imaginary killer coming to life. The twist that it was actually his wife’s lover in disguise, was slightly unexpected, but his murdering the wife was a welcome surprise.

Philip’s story with the waxworks was creepy, but a little tedious. The majority of the tension revolved around why Neville wasn’t leaving. And the denouement with the proprietor admitting he killed his wife came too quickly. Peter Cushing was very interesting to watch, but if the trailer was seen beforehand (as it was here), then the viewer had to know his head would end up being decapitated!

Christopher Lee’s tale was disturbing, as all horror films with creepy kids are. It’s biggest lack, was the fault of his character not explaining his reasons to Mrs. Norton earlier. Chloe Frank does a great job of playing the daughter innocently with a hint of menace – which the audience is left to wonder about.

Finally the Jon Pertwee story may be the best. His humorous facial expressions, especially when his fangs grow in, are great to watch. There are little beats of comedy throughout the episode, including a giant painting of himself over the fireplace, which he apes at one point.

Like many other anthology films, not all the storylines in The House That Dripped Blood are as engaging as each other, But that leaves something for everyone. For the time of release, these were four perfectly creepy stories that can all provide their own chills and scares.

Assorted Musings

  • House That Dripped Blood

    House That Dripped Blood (1971) – The real estate agent is named after Bram Stoker.

    Real Estate broker AJ Stoker, is possibly a nod to Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula.

  • The film contains two Doctor Who’s – Jon Pertwee and Peter Cushing.
  • Denholm Elliott may be better know to many film fans as Indiana Jones’ boss, Marcus Brody.
  • Christopher Lee is seen reading on the couch in one sequence. That book is JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, which Lee would appear as Saruman nearly three decades later.

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