Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The House of Seven Corpses (1974)

Who's In It: John Ireland (Spartacus), Faith Domergue (This Island Earth, It Came from Beneath the Sea), John Carradine (House of Dracula), Carole Wells (TV version of National Velvet), and Jerry Strickler (who wasn't in much else, but reminds me a lot of Thomas Lennon, which was the one entertaining thing about this movie).

What It's About: The worst director in the world (Ireland) shoots a horror movie in a haunted house.

How It Is: Utter crap. Although I lied when I said a second ago that the only entertaining thing was Jerry Strickler's passing similarity to Thomas Lennon. John Carradine is in it and I always enjoy watching him, even when he has nothing to do like in this movie.

Carradine is the caretaker of the Beal mansion, a cool old house in which seven murders and/or suicides of family members took place. While the film's cast and crew are there, his main job is to warn them against being too light-hearted about the place; not that he gives them any good reason to be concerned. He tells them no stories about the place except to run down the list of deaths. For all anyone knows, including the audience, it's just a house where something horrible once happened. There's no tension around it at all.

And that's the movie's big problem. It's just dull. Scenes drag on forever. I imagine that's intended to build suspense, but since nothing is happening, it's boring. No one dies or is even seriously threatened for the first two-thirds of the movie at least, so all the focus is on the miserable people making the fictional movie within the movie. Ireland's character bullies his actors, especially Gayle (Domergue) who's no treat herself. One of the other actors is a pretentious prick who quotes Shakespeare whenever he leaves a room and tries to rape Gayle at one point. The only characters I liked were Wells and Stickler's married couple, but House of Seven Corpses doesn't spend enough time on them and when it does it's only interested in her being creeped out by the house and his sort of digging it.

There's meant to be a mystery aspect to the plot. Carradine's caretaker starts doing some strange things and someone decapitates Gayle's cat, but there's never a clear resolution to either of those things. They're abandoned in favor of a zombie's rising from its grave in the third act for reasons that seem to be connected to one of the filmmakers, but are super muddy.

Rating: One out of five assassinated actors.

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