Now that Halloween month is in full swing, so many cable stations are playing horror flicks. Yes, I have dozens of films in my Netflix cue but I came across this on TCM. I’d never heard of it and I don’t think it did well at the time so what better movie to review for RH?
The House of Seven Corpses is a movie within a movie! Director Eric Hartman is shooting a film about the terrible murders that occurred over the years on the Beal estate, using the actual home where the atrocities took place. The caretaker, Mr. Price, continually warns them not to screw around with things they don’t understand. Apparently all the murders were somehow related to witchcraft and the Devil so you can understand his anxiety.
Naturally no one listens to him. In fact, one of the actors, David, stumbles across a Tibetan Book of the Dead (how convenient!) and realizes the text can give the film more authenticity. What could go wrong?
I’ll give you three guesses on what happens to cast and crew and the first two don’t count.
That’s it. That’s the whole story. We get a bit of background on the Beal family members and what they did (hanging, stabbing, etc.) in a nice LONG exposition scene with Mr. Price. This was a very low budget film so it was probably cheaper to have him tell us everything. Also explains why there’s not a lot of blood and gore or decent special f/x throughout the entire movie.
Whomever did the casting might have been trying to get a little star power involved. John Carradine, John Ireland, and Faith Domergue definitely bring some serious acting chops to the film. But they’re the only ones. The rest of the cast, the actors portraying the crew especially, are just awful. Hammy and awkward are the two words that come to mind.
None of the characters are all that likable. Gayle is the fading, aging actress who seems desperate for work, even on a shit storm like this picture, as she puts up with a lot of ill treatment. Eric is her former/current lover (hard to tell) who is just an asshole to everyone. Annie is the sweet ingenue who runs around wringing her hands in fear all the time. And David is just creepy and weird who’s only interested in either that damned book or making out with Annie.
David turns out to be one of the Beals. One of the LONG DEAD Beals but we never find out why he returned from the dead. Did someone raise him to put a kibosh on the movie? And why does he look normal one minute and rotting the next. But he obviously falls for Annie then takes her corpse to his grave at the end. WTF??
The story itself gets a bit muddled after a while. I mean, I understand the Beal family worked witchcraft and made deals with the devil or whatever but all of them over the years? Even despite what happened to their ancestors? And honestly, Mr. Price seems like an add on character. He doesn’t really do much be a red herring. And what’s with everyone falling down all the time? I know by the 80s that had become cliche but it still felt so forced throughout the film.
I’m glad I got the opportunity to see this movie but I can understand why it’s never been on my radar before. It’s not well done. I wouldn’t recommend it as a must see. However, I did enjoys parts of it because I do like Faith Domergue and something about films from the 70s are just so ridiculous as to be amusing.
2 Hatchets (out of 10)
About the Author
Peggy Christie has been writing horror fiction since 1999. Her work has appeared in several websites, magazines, and anthologies, including Necrotic Tissue, Code Z: An Undead Hospital Anthology, Black Ink Horror, Elements of Horror, and Vicious Verses and Reanimated Rhymes. Her short story, “Why Be Normal?”, opened the anthology Reckless Abandon from Catalyst Press which premiered at the Horrorfind Convention in 2002. Her collection, Hell Hath No Fury, was published by Hazardous Press in May of 2013. Peggy is also the Secretary of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers. She even has her own webpage. Check it out at themonkeyisin.com.
Peggy loves Korean dramas, survival horror video games, and chocolate (not necessarily in that order) and lives in Michigan with her husband and their two dogs, Roscoe P. Coltrane and Dozer.