The House of Seven Corpses (1973)
There is something fun about thinking back to those early childhood scares we all experience. For me that brings to mind this low budget shocker that plays much better than one might think. Although I was never sure of the title for many years I recall seeing this film as a young boy curled up on a couch next to my Mom if I remember correctly.
As the credits roll for this creepy effort from writer, producer, director Paul Harrison we are treated to a flashback of six murders. It’s these historic murders that leading man John Ireland wants to produce and direct a movie about with Faith Domergue as his leading lady in the film within a film.
With a cast and crew on location where the original murders happened things get a little spooky when Jerry Strickler picks up an old book from a shelf titled The Tibetan Book of the Dead. This coupled with multiple warnings from caretaker John Carradine doesn’t seem to have any effect on John Ireland and his desire to get this film shot as quickly and inexpensively as possible. Once Carradine is introduced as Mr. Price we hear one cast member utter the line “His first names not Vincent is it?” A nice little in joke to be sure.
Canadian actor John Ireland is perfectly suited here in a role that requires a rather cranky and self centered performance as the director giving orders and really being nasty to his leading lady Domergue. He isn’t above pointing out that if she doesn’t get some sleep there will be bags under the bags on her eyes. That doesn’t mean he isn’t willing to spend the night with her when given the chance.
Strange things abound in this old mansion as we get to the final nights shooting to wrap up Ireland’s low budget effort. More murders will be added to the six we witnessed over the opening credits. We are also treated to a well done corpse/zombie creature wreaking havoc on the film crew and actors. Every now and then the shaky camera movements seem to work in the film’s favor while the day for night shooting didn’t quite come off so well.
This was Faith Domergue’s final English speaking film and according the IMDB she made one more in Spain. John Ireland was well past his prime years but acted up until his death in 1992.
This is the only film credited to Paul Harrison as a director but for fans of H.R. Pufnstuf and Freddie the Flute he was a credited writer of numerous episodes.
If you happen to pick up the blu ray edition of this from Severin Films you are in for a treat. There is a 28 minute interview with John Carradine at the age of 76. He talks of Boris, Bela and his days at 20th Century Fox working with pals Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda. I just wish the interviewer took more time in going over his career and asking direct questions about certain films as opposed to focusing on his work in the horror genre. Great bonus that made the purchase worth while.