The House of Seven Corpses (1973)


USA. 1973.


Director – Paul Harrison, Screenplay – Paul Harrison & Thomas J. Kelly, Producers – Paul Harrison & Paul Lewis, Photography – Don Jones, Music – Bob Emenegger, Makeup – Ron Foreman, Art Direction – Ron Garcia. Production Company – TCA Productions


John Ireland (Eric Hartman), Faith Domergue (Gayle Dorian), Jerry Strickler (David), Carol Wells (Ann), Charles Macaulay (Christopher Melon), John Carradine (Edgar Price)


A production crew go to the notorious Beal mansion to make a film based on the gruesome murders that occurred there in the last century. One of the actors finds a copy of the Tibetan Book of the Dead and decides to combine readings from that into the script. This inadvertently raises a ghoul from the grave, which then starts to slaughter its way through the film crew.

The House of Seven Corpses is a cheap and shabby post-Night of the Living Dead (1968)-influenced haunted house film. It is also one that rides its shortcomings with an occasionally not untoward likeability. If nothing else, it has an amazing cast that includes legendary B movie horror star John Carradine as the sinister caretaker; 1950s B movie queen Faith Domergue of This Island Earth (1955) fame as a vain and catty Hollywood has-been; Charles Macaulay who was Dracula to Blacula (1972) the previous year as a ham actor; and John Ireland as the hard-headed director.

The dialogue has a sometimes snappy wit – John Ireland to novice actress: “You’re supposed to be going into a trance, not an orgasm.” Some of the intercuttings of film and reality show a promise, if one that is unfulfilled. There is one good scene with John Carradine’s caretaker being seen disappearing into a grave that is revealed to be only a shot from the film but then not after all, leaving the film with an edgy flip-flop uncertainty – although director Paul Harrison never follows up on this. The scene intercutting between the film-within-the-film’s resurrection of a corpse and the real resurrection is a rudimentary but okay one. The atonal choral wailing seem a dreadfully pseudo attempt at occult atmosphere. The readings from the Tibetan Book of the Dead (an actual book) offer the peculiar news that the Tibetans wrote in Latin.

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