VAULT OF HORROR (1973) and THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (1971): A DOUBLE BILL OF AMICUS FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

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VAULT OF HORROR (1973) and THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (1971) : A DOUBLE BILL OF AMICUS MOVIE REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘CAN’T YOU DO ANYTHING NEATLY…???’

Ah, wonderful Amicus Productions, the brainchild of Max Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky. Every bit as good as its rival and counterpart Hammer in its own way. Two of my favourite films are Amicus films: TALES FROM THE CRYPT, a portmanteau or anthology film like VAULT OF HORROR, and THE WITCHFINDER GENERAL starring horror legend Vincent Price at probably his most evil, ever, and that’s saying something, lol.

You might say that Amicus specialised in the portmanteau or anthology film, a film that tells four or five short stories all under the umbrella of a piece that links them all together. The films we’re looking at today are two such films, VAULT OF HORROR and THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD. So come on then, gentle readers. Enter my crypt if ye dare. I made vol-au-vents…

In VAULT OF HORROR, five separate, affluent-looking middle-aged businessmen types enter the same lift and are taken to a place they definitely didn’t press the button for, a comfortable room down in the basement that looks like it might be a gentlemen’s club, a place they never knew existed in their building.

The men decide to stay and avail of the comforts of the club for a while. The conversation turns to the topic of dreams, and each of the men waxes lyrical as he reveals the details of a gruesome recurring nightmare from which he’s been suffering.

The handsome and authoritative-looking Daniel Massey goes first as a man who pays a private detective to track down his sister- played by his real-life sister Anna Massey- for devilishly nefarious purposes. When he then travels to the out-of-the-way town where his sister apparently now resides, he decides to stop off for a ‘bite’ in a most unusual restaurant after he concludes his business with her. ‘Juice, soup, roast, sweet, coffee’ indeed…

Next up, the plummy-voiced Terry-Thomas gets his come-uppance when his character of Arthur, a middle-aged businessman obsessed with tidiness- a place for everything and everything in its place, Eleanor– drives his younger trophy wife to commit a heinous crime…

This is followed by a tale in which an unpleasant husband-and-wife magic act travel to India to get some inspiration for their act. When they think they’ve found it in the form of a beautiful young woman’s ability to charm a rope out of its basket with her haunting musical stylings, it clearly never occurs to them that trying to steal this magic trick from her by violent means might have the most dreadful repercussions…

Next up, an insurance scam artist takes his life in his hands when his deeply unwise decision to ‘play dead’ leads him straight into the open arms of a pair of medical student body-snatchers.

This is follwed by a fun story in which a bizarrely red-bearded artist turns to voodoo to help him to get revenge on a trio of crooked art dealers, headed up by Denholm Elliott, who’ve tricked him royally. Truly, ye shall reap what ye have sown, gentlemen…

THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD gifts us with five more marvellous vignettes that each take place within a particular old country house which the estate agent, a certain Mr. Stoker, would have us believe is haunted. Stoker, eh? Where have we heard that name before? Heh-heh-heh, good one.

Anyway, this Stoker fella is attempting to convince not just us viewers, but also a police detective called Holloway who’s been called in to investigate the recent mysterious disappearance of a famous horror actor from the house.

The actor playing the detective, incidentally, John Bennett, is the living image of one Joseph Goebbels, a certain Propaganda Minister from a certain now-defunct regime. I’m just saying, is all, lol. Did Goebbels not after all then die in the flames that accompanied the demise of his precious regime, but instead escape to England to become an actor?

In fact, actor John Bennett who plays Detective Inspector Holloway did portray Joseph Goebbels in the 1973 film known as HITLER: THE LAST TEN DAYS. Legendary actor Alex Guinness does a superb job as the nasty little man with the toothbrush moustache and unflattering side-parting, and he has as his toady a man who bears an uncanny resemblance to Joseph Goebbels, our man John Bennett. It’s a marvellous film, but I wonder what it must have been like to go through life looking like a former Nazi Propaganda Minister? I know, I know, maybe I should just mind my own damn business, right? Gotcha, lol.

Denholm Elliott (again!) is first up here as a famous horror writer called Charles who comes to the house with his pretty wife Alice to work on his new book, which features as its protagonist a thoroughly unpleasant character called Dominick, a strangler and escaped lunatic. When Charles actually starts to see the strictly fictional Dominick around the place in the flesh, however, one can’t help but feel that something is deeply amiss in the house…

Next up is Peter Cushing as a retired, cravat-wearing and genteel stockbroker called Philip Grayson, who becomes utterly fascinated by the waxwork figure of a beautiful woman in a local Museum of Horrors.

When the wax dummy has the exact same effect on Philip’s visiting friend and former love rival Neville, played by Joss Ackland, the viewer starts to wonder just what it is about the direct gaze of this beautiful waxwork that draws men to her like magnets. Let’s just hope that the two chaps don’t lose their heads over her, that’s all I’m saying…

The devastatingly handsome Christopher Lee is up next as John Reid, a wealthy country gentleman who advertises for a governess- companion for his pretty little daughter Jane, who has no friends and no toys and has never been to school. In fact, she is utterly isolated from other people in every way her father can think up. An attractive governess duly arrives at the house in the form of Miss Anne Norton.

It doesn’t take her long to work out that something is very, very wrong in the Reid household. But is it the uptight Mr. Reid who’s to blame for any strangeness or is it his angelic-faced little daughter? When Mr. Reid starts to suffer terrifying pains about his person, Miss Norton thinks that she’s starting to see the light…

Finally, Jon Pertwee (Wurzel Gummidge, Dr. Who) plays Paul Henderson, the ageing, diva-like horror actor whose disappearance while working on a new film and living in the so-called haunted house is what initially draws Detective Inspector Goebbels into the case, lol.

He’s working on a low-budget horror film called ‘CURSE OF THE BLOOD-SUCKERS’ that he thinks is beneath him. Beggars can’t be choosers, however, and his obvious love and enthusiasm for the horror genre leads him to visit a costumier’s in the village in search of something authentic to wear as part of his costume.

In what is possibly the most delicious part of the whole film, Mr. Von Hartmann, the ancient costumier in his old-fasioned emporium, sells Paul a vampire’s cloak that makes Paul behave in a very uncharacteristic way when he puts it on. You might even say that, like Red Bull if you’re to believe the TV ads for it, it gives him wings…

The fabulously divine Ingrid Pitt (THE VAMPIRE LOVERS, COUNTESS DRACULA, THE WICKER MAN) steals the show here as Paul’s gorgeous co-star in the film, Carla. With her blonde tresses, cigarette holder, pearls and white fox fur, she’s enough to take the sight out of your eye, as we say here in Oireland. But there might be more to this foxy wench than meets the eye, if you get me, so Paul had better be careful that he doesn’t get out-foxed by her…

Both films are drawn together in the finale in such a way as to tie up the loose ends neatly. In VAULT OF HORROR, we find out just who these shady businessmen are and why they’re re-enacting for our edification their terrible recurring nightmares.

THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD sees Detective Inspector Goebbels (no offence intended here, only joking!) visiting the house of mystery for himself and finding out exactly why it’s earned its evil reputation…

As the red velvet curtain falls on this joint review, let’s take a minute to fondly remember Amicus Productions. Featuring regular everyday streets and taxi-cabs and people and apartments rather than the forest paths and carriages and Counts and Countesses and castles atop mountains that Hammer favoured, the colours they used were quite extraordinary and blow my mind anew every time I see them. The portmanteau or anthology film deserves a re-birth. Any takers…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

 

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FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR… BY SANDRA HARRIS.

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A veritable lucky dip of horror movie reviews, covering everything from old favourites and iconic titles to obscure and forgotten horror films and cult classics. Do you dare dip YOUR hand into this mystery bag of evil, demonic possession and bone-chilling terror…? You do…? Then on your own head be it… MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OV9EKG6

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.

Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.

She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR… BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

fifty really random horror film reviews to die for...
A veritable lucky dip of horror movie reviews, covering everything from old favourites and iconic titles to obscure and forgotten horror films and cult classics. Do you dare dip YOUR hand into this mystery bag of evil, demonic possession and bone-chilling terror…? You do…? Then on your own head be it… MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OV9EKG6

FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR… THE NEW BOOK BY SANDRA HARRIS!!!

fifty really random horror film reviews to die for...

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OV9EKG6