I’ve never seen The House of Seven Corpses before this most recent viewing on Severin Films truly stunning Blu-ray edition, but I feel like I have. It’s like every other “House of” movie I can remember sans maybe a bit of gore, a lack of boob or maybe a lack of strange dubbing. It’s more than a ghost story and exceptionally creative compared to some of the ghost story fodder that might adopt this type of naming convention. Further more it has a few cult genre favorites to back up its legitimacy. It almost feels like a made for TV movie which wouldn’t be completely out of place for 1974, but it’s got the John Carradine name to make me think it’s was a major motion picture release. One thing is for certain, fans of 1970’s house horror are going to be exceptionally please with this release. If the cover doesn’t get you, if the tag lines don’t’ grab you, then I assure you that you need to check your pulse. You may already be slated for the eighth empty grave.
Synopsis from Severin Films:
Hollywood legends John Ireland (RED RIVER, SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS), John Carradine (THE GRAPES OF WRATH, VAMPIRE HOOKERS) and Howard Hughes’ paramour Faith Domergue (CULT OF THE COBRA, THIS ISLAND EARTH) star this much-loved ‘70s shocker about a film crew shooting an occult drama in a sinister manor – actually the former Utah Governor’s Mansion – with its own grisly history of family bloodshed.
“Eight Graves! Seven bodies! One Killer… and he’s already dead!”
Is The House of Seven Corpses obvious? Nearly. Fans of the genre have seen this style of storytelling before with emphasis on watching a film crew go into a spooky house with a strange, lurking caretaker. Perhaps that is why it’s so great. It takes the classic haunted house story and spins it neo-modern but did so when only Night Gallery may have been really playing meta-horror philosopher. Shortly thereafter the trend would be to recreate classic thrills and chills in modern environments; it was cheaper, just ask Amicus who started taking classic tales of terror, anthologizing them and them setting them in modern times to drop some bills from the budget. So it’s a tale you’ll be familiar with, but it’s still fresh.
The House of Seven Corpses is the kind of movie we parody, a movie that is the butt of many jokes. While this isn’t a “Don’t” i.e. Don’t Go in the House, it has the same popular conventions of random acts of horror combined into one tale. That means you’ll get a little bit of the ghosties. A hint of zombies. Murder. Desperation. Mystery. With random subplots and genre nods that means you get a hodge podge of various effects and murder styles that makes Seven Corpses unpredictable. Say nothing of the effects quality because that was not on director Paul Harrison’s short list. The effects including bloodlettings and undead makeup are cheap. The movie does not rely on grandeur for its atmosphere. That’s left up to the performances of the actors, music and excellent choice of shot composition and sequence which yields a feeling of disorientation. It has some beautiful off-Crayola blood that makes me a happy horror fan as well as some of the top, unrealistic corpse appliances that are nearly suited for your Halloween display rather than a feature movie. This will be enjoyed by the B horror fan but may be shunned by a more modern, realism seeking blood thirsty bunch of ipodders and cellphoneheads.
The picture and audio are really great with 1080p Full HD resolution though the audio is mono. I suppose you can’t ask for better on the audio since that’s the way it was created and no need to digitize it into 5.1. It preserves the feel of the movie and still sounds clean. The disc contains a rather lengthy interview with John Carradine in a rare appearance. Now this is a truly special look into the mind of a professional. It’s obvious that he didn’t necessarily deem his genre work as anything more than a common job, but fans realize that is it was so much more. He preferred Shakespearean roles. I always find it disheartening when a performer downplays their horror roles especially with Carradine being such a talented genre favorite. From Dracula to Seven Corpses, there are quite a few horror pictures in between. I will say that the interview seems to precede his work on The Howling which may be his ultimate, no matter how minor, role in the genre. He’s not the only genre star in the picture with actress Faith Domergue (This Island Earth, It Came From Beneath The Sea and Cult of the Cobra) as well as John Ireland who was in everything from Little House on the Prairie to Satan’s Cheerleaders. There’s also a commentary track by the associate producer Gary Kent as moderated by Lars Nilsen of the Alamo Drafthouse.
I strongly recommend this movie to fans of 70’s horror, Carradine buffs and fans of strange corpse makeup. It has some spooky moments though to say it’s firmly a fright film would be an overstatement. It’s a fun watch that will feel as familiar as an old recliner, but as fresh as the new slippers you got for Christmas.
Pick up The House of Seven Corpses NOW! (Severin is shining with this release).