The House That Dripped Blood | Time to break out the claret and colourful cravats

Written by Robert Bloch, the 1971 Amicus horror anthology, The House That Dripped Blood, stars Denholm Elliott, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Jon Pertwee in four tales of terror that unfold as a Scotland Yard Inspector Holloway (John Bennett) investigates a mansion with a ghoulish history…

To celebrate Second Sight’s Limited Edition UK Blu-ray release, I’ve embarked on my own investigation — into the campy, colourful men’s neckwear worn by the film’s leading male stars. Here’s what I unearthed…

Method For Murder
In this first tale, Denholm Elliott’s horror novelist Charles Hillyer rents the old mansion with his wife (Joanna Dunham) but becomes haunted by visions of Dominic (Tom Adams), the murderous, psychopathic central character of his latest novel.

As he’s working from home for most of the time, Elliott’s hack writer doesn’t really need to dress up – so we only see him wearing a dashing little brown cravat on the day of his arrival to the house.

Our second story features Peter Cushing as Philip Grayson, a retired stockbroker who gets a surprise visit from his old friend Neville (Joss Ackland). But after they visit a local wax museum, the two men become fixated on a statue of Salome, that appears to look like the woman they once knew and fell out over…

While relaxing in his new abode, listening to Franz Schubert’s String Quartet No. 14 in D minor (aka Death and the Maiden – and director Peter Duffell’s preferred title for the movie), Cushing sports a classy red smoking jacket with black lapels, white wide collar shirt and a white cravat with a naval motif tied with a toggle. He also matches this white shirt and cravat with a cream sports jacket while out strolling through the local pond, graveyard and high street – where he happens upon Jacquelin’s Museum of Horror.

He also favours a lovely burgundy and gold cravat which he pairs with a pink shirt and his red smoking jacket while lounging, and its this ensemble that he wears when Ackland’s Londoner arrives flourishing a flowing green and pink silk number (how very Ossie Clark).

The next morning Cushing is back in his white shirt, cravat and cream jacket; while Ackland has ditched the Ossie Clark number for a too-long blue tie (the kind that Boris Johnson favours). Why ditch the silk scarf? I suspect Neville thought it a tad too ginger beer to wear down in the village. After all, this isn’t hip and happening London

But there are two more neckties to admire before this one ends – a paisley cravat worn by Wolfe Morris’ waxworks proprietor and one with what looks like a Mexican theme worn by a customer (as seen in our first picture above) who gets the shock of his life  – a terrible dummy head on a plate that’s suppose to be Cushing’s Grayson.

Sweets to the Sweet
In this one, Nyree Dawn Porter plays a private tutor who is perturbed by the severe way Christopher Lee’s widower treats his young daughter (played by Chloe Franks), even forbidding her to have a doll. The teacher feels like a helpless bystander, but his daughter is not everything that she seems…

Given Lee’s role here as the uptight puritanical father, there’s nothing colourful or fanciful on display here – just a rather dull Houndstooth suit… roll on the next tale.

The Cloak
Horror film actor and occult specialist Paul Henderson (Jon Pertwee) moves into the house, which we discover is located very near the studio where his latest film, Curse of the Bloodsuckers, is being shot (In reality, the house used in this film was actually an old cottage used for storage on the Shepperton studio lot before it got torn down to make way for an ugly council block).

Furious about the poor production values, cheap sets and crap costumes, he buys a black cloak from a shopkeeper (Geoffrey Bayldon channelling Ernest Thesiger’s Dr Pretorius in The Bride of Frankenstein) to use as his film character’s costume. Unfortunately, the cloak turns its wearer into a vampire, something his co-star (Ingrid Pitt) quickly discovers…

This final tale is an all-out campfest and the best of the bunch – especially in regards to men’s attire. Pertwee chews the scenery as the preening peacock horror star  and has a nice line in fashionable clobber – from trendy scarves, ties and cravats to white ruffle shirts and the titular vampire cloak – all of which wouldn’t look out of place between the pages of The Chap.

But let’s not forget the film’s director, script supervisor and art director all decked out in the latest fashions from Carnaby Street. This scene sees Paul vent his anger, asking the director ‘Since leaving the depressing confines of television, how many films have you made?’, to which he replies, ‘Well actually this is my second’. ‘But your first horror film,’ Paul retorts, ‘Well let me tell you, I’ve made hundreds!’ No doubt this scene spoofs the real-life altercation between Vincent Price (who was originally approached to play Pertwee’s part) and his Witchfinder General director Michael Reeves.

This is one of Amicus’ most entertaining horror anthologies with a terrific cast, smart direction, funny (in-joke) script and great production values (especially those costumes sourced by Laurel Staffel), and it all looks terrific in the new Blu-ray release from Second Sight, which has some superb extras (check them out below), some great new artwork from Graham Humphreys, and a collector’s booklet. Apologies for the quality of my screen grab, but I do assure you that the Second Sight print is amazing.

• Audio commentary with director Peter Duffell and author Jonathan Rigby: This is the definitive take on the making of the movie from the man who made it.
• Audio commentary with film historian and author Troy Howarth: I loved all the background info on Shepperton, the actors and crew. Very well researched.
• Interview with Second Assistant director Mike Higgins
A-Rated Horror Film: Fang-tastic vintage featurette featuring interviews with director Peter Duffell and 
actors Geoffrey Bayldon, Ingrid Pitt and Chloe Franks
• Radio Spots
• Stills Gallery
• Reversible sleeve featuring new artwork by Graham Humphreys

• Rigid slipcase featuring new artwork by Graham Humphreys
• 40 page booklet with new essays by Allan Bryce, Jon Towlson and Kat Ellinger
• Reversible poster featuring new and original artwork




About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on July 29, 2019, in Hammer-Amicus-Tigon, Horror, Must See and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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