Movie Review – The House of Seven Corpses (1974)

The House of Seven Corpses
Directed by Paul Harrison
Courtesy of Severin Films
Original Release Date: 1974
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: August 13, 2013

House-of-Seven-Corpses-Blu-Keyart

I have heard the title THE HOUSE OF SEVEN CORPSES a few times over the years but never saw it in any of the video stores I frequented, nor did I know anyone that had watched it. So, when the fine folks at CAV and Severin announced they were releasing it on Blu-ray, I figured I had to give it a shot. After all, it was originally released one month after I was born. I watched it alone, late at night, and enjoyed it for the most part, although it does have some annoying aspects here and there.

If you are not familiar with THE HOUSE OF SEVEN CORPSES, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Severin Films:

Eight graves! Seven bodies!” screamed the ads, “One killer… and he’s already dead!” 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. From its notoriously gruesome opening to the creepy zombie-attack climax, revisit the old-school favorite that Bloody Disgusting hails as “a classic Saturday afternoon `Creature Feature’ scare” as you’ve never seen it before, now transferred in HD from original vault materials and featuring an exclusive archive interview with the legendary horror icon Carradine and a revealing new audio commentary. Bonus Features: Exclusive Interview With Star John Carradine; Audio Commentary With Associate Producer Gary Kent Moderated By The Alamo Drafthouse’s Lars Nilsen; Theatrical Trailer.

To truly appreciate a film like this, you have to look at the time period in which it was made. Hammer Horror was winding down in the early 70s, however the Gothic presence from its Golden Years was still impacting films in these days. As a result, many filmmakers, both domestic and foreign, were still trying to capture that dark, brooding feel. THE HOUSE OF SEVEN CORPSES is one of those attempts. And while it does manage to do so, the film itself drags for a while before things start to happen.

The slow build-up is the primary flaw in this film, unfortunately. It is 90 minutes long, but the first 60 minutes is spent trying to get the audience to believe in and care about the characters. This is a bit hard to do, given their two-dimensional personalities. But once the action starts, the interest in the film picks up considerably.

I wish I could understand the ending better, but it honestly didn’t make sense to me. I went back and re-watched the twist, just to see if I had missed something. But I was still left confused.

Still, even though I’ve listed a couple of negatives here, the film is entertaining overall and it is a nice homage to Hammer’s Gothic atmospheres. The zombie effects look excellent and I would love to see how they put them together.

The digital transfer for THE HOUSE OF SEVEN CORPSES looks amazing; the clarity of the picture on Blu-ray is excellent for a 40 year-old film, and the sound quality is nice as well. There are some scene transitions in the original film that are jerky and therefore probably couldn’t be fixed in the transfer, but that is simply due to the editing quality of the time period.

THE HOUSE OF SEVEN CORPSES will be a win for fans of old-style horror and nostalgic 70s trips back in time. Be sure and check this one out on Blu-ray if you get the chance; the HD is definitely worth the extra money. This film is available now.

MSB

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