In this country house, strange things have been happening over the past few years, and a Scotland Yard detective (John Bennett) has travelled down from London to investigate a case which he feels the local constabulary are not doing justice to. When he arrives, the policeman covering a recent murder there tells him that there is something more mysterious going on at the place than has been made public, but the detective scoffs at the notion, even when he is regaled with four stories of what happened over the years, starting with the tale of a writer and his wife who moved in there - but never moved out...
The House That Dripped Blood was the third of the Amicus anthology horror movies, where producers Max J. Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky hired popular chiller writer Robert Bloch, now forever known as the man who wrote Psycho, to conjure up the script for them. Bloch was a prolific short story author, and took to these films like a duck to water, contributing a pleasing simplicity to their build up and eventual pay off, even if those twists were not exactly too surprising. To modern eyes, this was unlikely to scare that many people, and there was an almost complete lack of gore making it suitable for pretty much all ages.
All ages who were looking for a handful of mild thrills and a few easy laughs, that is, as perhaps this film spoke most clearly to nostalgists after the passage of so many years, rendering this after a fashion as much part of the sixties and seventies horror landscape as the old Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi shockers were to the thirties and forties, and held in the same warm regard. The equivalent of those vintage stars, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, appeared here in the second and third stories respectively, putting in their customary jobs of professionalism, and their female counterpart of the day Ingrid Pitt also appeared in the final segment as a foil to Jon Pertwee (Vincent Price was sought for the role, but Pertwee by no means lets us down).
The first plot sees what looks for a while to be a horror variation on A Double Life with writer Denholm Elliott so caught up in his new novel that he begins to see its strangler villain around the house - could his alter ego be this fictional killer and will make-believe bleed into reality? There are two twists to this one, which are lively, but don't quite dispel an atmosphere that can't quite be shaken which is more dreary than Gothic. This certainly suits the second, which has Cushing as a retired stockbroker lamenting his lost love and being strangely drawn to a wax museum in town which features a model of Salome which appears to be her spit and image. This does get kind of silly, but Cushing sells it.
Thirdly, some viewers' favourite section where Nyree Dawn Porter is asked to tutor a lonely little girl (Chloe Franks) whose father (Lee) refuses to allow her any dolls or any friends. Our sympathies are with this poor little soul for most of the time, with Lee playing up the cold aloofness, until the child makes a doll out of candle wax and displays a talent for voodoo inherited from her late (and evil) mother. Fans of bad seed style thrillers will appreciate that, which is in contrast to the last section, where a movie star of the "don't you know who I am?" school decides to improve a production he is appearing in by buying himself a cape of decent quality for the vampire part he is essaying, little realising that it will have a supernatural effect on him, and simply because his roles have attracted the wrong kind of fans. For all its daft comedy, this is good fun, and Pertwee, then wowing them as Doctor Who on TV, provides a spark of life into a film which was beginning to trudge. Music by Michael Dress.