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Film / The House That Dripped Blood

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The House That Dripped Blood is a 1971 British horror Anthology Film directed by Peter Duffell and distributed by Amicus Productions. It stars Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Nyree Dawn Porter, Chloe Franks, Denholm Elliott, Ingrid Pitt, and Jon Pertwee. The film is a collection of four short stories, all originally written and subsequently scripted by Robert Bloch, linked by the protagonist of each story's association with the eponymous building.

A Scotland Yard investigator (John Bennett) looks into four mysterious cases involving an unoccupied house and its tragic previous tenants.

  1. "Method for Murder": A hack novelist (Denholm Elliott) encounters a strangler (Tom Adams) who's the villain of his books, leading his wife to question his sanity.
  2. "Waxworks": Two men (Peter Cushing and Joss Ackland) are obsessed with a wax figure of a woman from their past.
  3. "Sweets for the Sweet": A little girl with a stern, widowed father (Christopher Lee) displays an interest in witchcraft.
  4. "The Cloak": An arrogant horror film actor (Jon Pertwee) purchases a black cloak which gives him a vampire's powers.

Tropes used in The House That Dripped Blood include:

  • Actor Allusion:
    • Paul Henderson (Jon Pertwee) is describing the old horror films he loves, and mentions Dracula, but quickly adds "the one with Bela Lugosi of course, not this new fellow". The new fellow he is referring to is Christopher Lee, who also stars in the film.
    • Among the photographs in the frame of Paul Henderson's mirror is one of Pertwee driving "Bessie", the car he drove as the Doctor.
  • Adam Westing: Ingrid Pitt plays an actress who plays vampires and then turns out to be one for real.
  • Alliterative List: From the poster:
    Vampires! Voodoo! Vixens! Victims!
  • Apple of Discord: In "Waxworks", the wax figure of Salome causes all men to see it as the woman they most desire. This causes problems as Philip and Rogers had both been in love with the same woman, and both see it as her.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Alice in "Method for Murder" gets little sympathy when she is strangled to death by her lover, who now believes himself to be Dominick.
    • Inspector Holloway from the Framing Device is such a dick that it’s hard to feel bad for him when Carla kills him for killing Henderson.
    • Subverted by Henderson, who turns out to be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold undeserving of his fate.
  • Becoming the Costume: In "The Cloak", actor Henderson purchases a vampire's cloak to add verisimilitude to role as a vampire, only to discover that he transforms into a vampire whenever he dons the cloak.
  • Classical Movie Vampire: This is what Paul Henderson transforms into (minus the east European accent) whenever he dons the eponymous cloak in "The Cloak"; very appropriate given he is an actor who specialises in playing vampires.
  • Clothes Make the Maniac: In "The Cloak", whenever Paul Henderson dons the eponymous cloak, he turns into a vampire.
  • Decapitation Presentation: In "Waxworks", the proprietor of the museum created his figure of Salome by embalming his executed wife in wax. He later uses the decapitated heads of Rogers and Philip as heads of John the Baptist in the display.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: In the original short story for "Sweets for the Sweet," Jane didn't throw the voodoo doll in a fire...she bit its head off.
  • Dramatic Irony: Alice's plan was to have her failed actor lover drive her husband insane. Instead, it's her lover who ends up going insane.
  • Enfant Terrible/Cute Witch: Jane Reid in "Sweets for the Sweet."
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: In "Sweets for the Sweet", John forbids his daughter from any contact with other children, or even to have any toys. As it turns out, he does have some solid reasons for his incredibly strict parenting but, by the time these come out, it is far too late for all involved.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: At the end of the film, the real estate agent Stoker looks into the camera and asks if you would consider yourself a suitable tenant for the house.
  • Gaslighting: In "Method for Murder", Charles' sightings of Dominick turn out to be part of a plan by his wife Alice to have him declared insane so she can run off with her lover.
  • Gone Horribly Right: In "Sweets to the Sweet," the tutor's success at freeing Jane from her phobia of fire allows Jane to start teaching herself witchcraft.
  • Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • John burning alive at the end of "Sweets to the Sweet".
    • Philip being decapitated in "Waxworks".
  • High-Class Glass: In "The Cloak", flamboyant movie actor Paul Henderson uses a monocle when reading. While undoubtedly an affectation, it appears he really does need the corrective lens as he is never seen reading without it.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: In "Method for Murder", all of Charles' attempts to convince Alice that Dominick is real and in the house end with him showing her an apparently empty room and her thinking he is cracking up.
  • Jerkass: Inspector Holloway from the Framing Device is an arrogant dick who views everyone he meets as beneath him for being from a small town and insults people who are genuinely trying to help.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Paul Henderson.
  • Kill It with Fire: In "Sweet to the Sweet" John dies when Jane throws the wax voodoo doll into the fireplace, causing him to burn alive.
  • Lost in Character: In "Method for Murder", Richard, the failed actor that Alice uses to play Dominick, the strangler from her husband Charles' book, in order to drive him insane becomes so immersed in the role that he actually believes he is Dominick and murders the psychiatrist, Charles, and finally Alice.
  • Mirror Monster: In "Method for Murder", a shaken Charles is lighting a cigarette by the fireplace when he glances in the mirror and sees Dominick standing on the landing behind him. But when he turns around, there is no one there.
  • Missing Reflection: In "The Cloak", the first indication Henderson has that anything is wrong is when he tries on the cloak and then discovers he doesn't have a reflection in the mirror.
  • Never Had Toys: In "Sweets for the Sweet", John is a Fantasy-Forbidding Father who forbids his daughter from any contact with other children, or even to have any toys.
  • Never Trust a Title: While the title may make sense figuratively—in that the house is responsible for a number of deaths, if Stoker is to be believed—no actual blood appears in the film (which is odd for a film involving vampires).
  • Pretty in Mink: Carla wears a mink stole while casually lounging around Paul's sitting room in "The Cloak".
  • The Prima Donna: Paul Henderson. The first day he’s on set, he throws a tantrum over the set of the castle not being “real enough”, and proceeds to smash it with his cane to prove a point.
  • Private Tutor: Ann in "Sweets to the Sweet" is hired by John Reid to teach his daughter Jane.
  • Sapient House: While it is never implied that it's actually intelligent, the real estate agent Stoker says that the house reacts to the personalities of those who live there, and that the fates that befell the previous tenants were therefore of their own creating and somehow deserved.
  • Sanity Slippage: In "Method for Murder" Charles gradually starts to lose it from his constant visions of Dominick. In the end, it turns out that some of the evidence for his Sanity Slippage was just his wife gaslighting him.
  • Slasher Smile: Angelic-looking Jane after she's murdered her father in "Sweets for the Sweet."
  • Smoking Is Glamorous: Most of the smoking in the film is very mundane, but Carla, the exotic foreign movie star in "The Cloak", smokes cigarettes in a long holder and looks very sexy while doing so.
  • Voodoo Doll: The European 'poppet' version is used in "Sweets for the Sweet", with Jane fashioning an effigy of her father out wax and imbuing it with hairs stolen from his razor. She causes him heart pains by stabbing it with a needle and later tosses it on to the fire.
  • Wax Museum Morgue: In "Waxworks", the proprietor of the museum created his figure of Salome by embalming his executed wife in wax. He later uses the decapitated heads of Rogers and Philip as heads of John the Baptist in the display.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: In "The Cloak", the most dramatic changes to Paul happen when he dons the cloak just as the clock is striking midnight.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: At the start of "Sweets for the Sweet", Jane Reid is afraid of fire. It later appears that her father John deliberately instilled this fear in her.
  • Would Harm a Child/Would Hit a Girl: In "Sweets for the Sweet", John slaps his daughter across the face while her teacher stands by shocked, but doing nothing.