“Halloween Twenty-Fifteen”: A Review of “The House of Seven Corpses” (1974)

house_of_seven_corpses_poster_01This film is a study in how much a bad ending can affect an opinion on what was otherwise a decent film. We will address that later. As The House of Seven Corpses rolled on, I kept telling myself how surprising it was to see it have such a low rating on IMDB (a 3.9 as of this review). It started out with a thrilling and mysterious scene as the opening credits began, the story managed to be interesting and not predictable, and the acting wasn’t half bad. Then came the ending. But first, a recap: John Ireland plays a semi-tyrannical film director who is shooting a movie in a haunted mansion. During the house’s hundred-plus year history, seven people were murdered in various ways (illustrated in the credits). There is a creepy caretaker (John Carradine) who becomes bothersome to the production because he thinks the crew is not sticking closely enough to the true story about what happened there. He warns them to not continue but is just seen as crazy and annoying. By adding scenes of witchcraft and evil conjuring, the film-within-a-film’s cast and crew accidentally conjure up something on set. The cemetery on the grounds has eight graves, but only seven have tombstones. Who is buried in the unnamed plot? We find out during the utterly atrocious ending scenes.

The first hour and ten minutes were great. At no point at any time in The House of Seven Corpses is there any scare-factor whatsoever, but the atmosphere is creepy and subdued. I thought it was entertaining. But all hell managed to break loose in just the last ten minutes. It then became so predictable that you could have shut it off and still knew what happened. Though the majority of the movie is tasteful and we don’t get the blood and screams at every turn, the ending makes up for it. One by one characters buy the farm, and with that your heart will sink…as will the final score. It is such a shame because Carradine was perfect and I think Ireland was pretty effective. The rest of the actors don’t leave much of an impression, but the performances are by no means bad. Chalk this one up as “what could have been”. Also starring Faith Domergue, Carole Wells, and Charles Macaulay. Directed by Paul Harrison.

5.5 out of 10 stars.

More articles in this special “Halloween Twenty-Fifteen” column can be found here.

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