Inspector Halloway (John Bennett) is less than pleased when he has to look
for a filmstar gone missing, thinking it to be just some publicity stunt at his
expense, but both the local constale (John Malcolm) and the owner (John
Bryans) of the house the filmstar lived in tell him rather spooky stories about
past tenants of the house that might lead the investigations towards something
more sinister ...
- First it's the story of writer Charles (Denholm Elliott),
who rents the house to be inspired for his horror novel, and soon
enough he comes up with al plot about a strangling madman that will make
him millions ... or so he thinks. Soon though the madman, Dominic,
becomes real (and is played by Tom Adams), appearing to him ever so
often. His wife Alice (Joanna Dunham) cannot see a thing though when he
claims to spot Dominic again, and soon she persuades Charles to visit
a psychiatrist (Robert Lang) ... and it seems high time too, since
soon Charles sees Dominic strangling his wife ... but she convinces him
it was Charles himself, and there is no Dominic. When Charles soon
visits his psychiatrist again though, the psychiatrist is strangled by
Dominic, and then ...
Dominic and Alice turn out to be malicious lovers who want to drive
Charles mad to live from his royalties while he's in the loonie bin ...
thing is, Elliott is really mad and he has thrown a spanner into the
works and strangled Charles as well ... and he has grown rather fond
of strangling, so he strangles Alice too ...
- The next tenant of the house is elderly Philip Grayson
(Peter Cushing), who all of his life couldn't come over the loss of his
lover, and he's more than a bit surprised to find a figure of her in
the local wax museum ... a figure modelled after the wax museum's
proprietor's (Wolfe Morris) wife, the man assres Philip, a murderess.
Days later, Philip's friend Neville comes for a visit, a rival over
the affections of Philip's above mentioned lost love, but the 2
reconcile ... until Neville insists on visiting the wax museum as well
... and becomes totally obsessed by the figure ... so much so that he
is unable to leave the village despite other plans But eventually
the wax museum's proprietor grows jealous and decapitates Neville ...
to the horror of Philip, who days later finds his friend's head having
become part of the museum. But the proprietor is still not content and
decapitates Philip as well.
As it turns out the figure in the museum is actually the corpse of
the proprietor's wife covered in wax, and he has once killed her in a
fit of jealousy ... but her death hasn't kept him from remaining
jealousy incarnate ...
The next tenant, John Reid (Christopher Lee) has hired a
nanny, Ann (Nyree Dawn Porter) for his daughter Jane (Chloe Franks), a
lovely young child whom her father hasn't allowed to play with toys or
other children, and he seems to be terribly afraid of her. The nanny
finds that more than a little disturbing, until she has to realize Jane
practices witchcraft, and in the end kills her father by thrwoing his
voodoo-doll into the fire.
The last tenant was above mentioned moviestar, Henderson
(Jon Pertwee), who, relegated to play in cheap horror-movies, does not
hesitate to articulate his dismay about the situation, so much so that
he refuses to wear a cloak the studio has provided for his role as a
vampire, and goes to buy an authentic cloak from antique store
owner Hartmann (Geoffrey Bayldon) - so authentic is the cape indeed that
it turns Henderson into a vampire when wearing it, and at one instant
he bites his co-star in the movie, Carla (Ingrid Pitt). But when he
wants to make up to her and invites her to dinner, he has to realize
she really is a vampire, wanting to add him to the bloodsuckers' ranks -
with success of course.
Back in the here and now ... inspector Halloway naturally believes none of
the stories and goes to the house to look for Henderson ... and finds him and Carla in coffins in the basement, both vampires of course,
bite him to death.
Somehow you cannot help but like these Amicus omnibus
movies, all collections of short stories, each with a punchline at the end, and
the framing story, which seems rather unimportant in the beginning, has its own
punchline in the end too (more often than not one of the characters of the
framing stories turns out to be Death himself, about to deliver the others to
purgatory). and even if in this case the stories have rather little to do
with its framing device (the house that dripped blood), so much so that
it doesn't even play a significant role in the second story (the one about the
wax museum ... which is not the house in question), and the punchlines
are either predictable or unsatisfying, the film is still likeable, thanks to
great performances of all of the lead actors, a genuine predilection for the
macabre, and a sense for good old(-fashioned) horror-atmosphere.