FTP: The House of Seven Corpses (1974)

JULY 14, 2022


To be fair to The House Of Seven Corpses, I've already seen a "house" with roughly 993 more corpses, so at no point was I expecting a fast paced, ultra violent affair. But I was still disappointed, because it turns out it's one of those movies where if you were to ask someone what the plot was, they'd basically be spoiling the third act. Even the official synopsis explains that it's about a film crew who inadvertently use a real incantation as dialogue in their film, which awakens a ghoul that proceeds to kill them all one by one. Awesome, right? Well, it's 87 minutes long and the ghoul doesn't awaken until a bit past the hour mark, so.

I mean, as a Jason Takes Manhattan defender I've certainly listened to countless "He's only in New York for the last 20 minutes!" kind of complaints over the years, but I think we can all agree that while the NY part of the film isn't as prominent as the title suggests, at least he's doing his usual thing for the entire movie, racking up a then-high body count in fact! Here, before the ghoul finally wakes up, there's nothing really horror about the movie at all beyond the fact that the crew is, unsurprisingly, making a horror movie (oh and someone kills a cat). Only the film's opening scene tries to trick us into thinking that what we're seeing is real; every other example for the next hour, such as a character's death in the film they're making, is presented as it really is, with the makeup guy standing next to her and the director calling "action!" and all that.

Luckily, it's still mildly entertaining anyway, thanks to the relentless assholery of John Ireland as the film's director. He snarls at his actors, yells at his crew, and treats the shooting location's owner (John Carradine!) as a crazy loon - there's basically no point in the movie where you won't be wanting the ghoul to kill him, but given it's otherwise uninvolving plot, his behavior becomes kind of charming in its own way. It's from the 1970s so I don't have to tell (warn) you that some of his treatment of his female co-stars is off-putting (one example I'm not even sure how it would have been acceptable even then), but knowing that he'll eventually get what's coming to him makes it easier to digest.

Otherwise though, it's just too little, too late. The ghoul's rampage is pretty quick, and there's another twist with a crew member being part of the "curse" that doesn't even make much sense, coming out of nowhere and with very little follow-through. Director Paul Harrison quit directing after this, his first feature in a career that otherwise saw him directing TV variety shows and his most notable work after this was writing a few episodes of Days Of Our Lives, so I think we can all safely assume that making horror movies wasn't his forte. The commentary provides more traditional entertainment value, with co-producer/production manager Gary Kent telling his stories with the assistance of Lars Nilsen from the Alamo Drafthouse. Neither of them believe the film to be high art, so they occasionally goof on its plotting a bit (Nilsen notes the laughably small crew they're using to make the movie) and seem to enjoy each other's company. There's also a lengthy interview with Carradine, but not only is it not specific to this film, he downplays his horror association, making it an odd inclusion for this horror film. But if you're a fan of the man, you'll enjoy his stories all the same.

What say you?


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