Written by: George Pacheco on August 11th, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: USA, February, 1974
Director: Paul Harrison
Writer: Paul Harrison, Thomas Kelly
Cast: John Ireland, John Carradine, Faith Domergue
DVD Release Date: August 13th, 2013
Approximate Running Time: 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Severin Films
Region Encoding: Region 1 DVD NTSC / Region A Blu-Ray
Retail Price: $29.95
It isn’t quite that much of a stretch to envision H.R. Pufnstuf writer Paul Harrison sitting in the director’s chair of a horror movie, given the psychedelic atmosphere which surrounded this puppet children’s show in the 1970s.
There isn’t much psychedelic or freak-outs to be had in House of Seven Corpses, however, as Harrison’s directorial effort is more of a quaint and kitschy affair; a film which belongs more to the Elvira school of creature features than anything remotely grim, dark or disturbing.
This isn’t to say that Seven Corpses is poorly conceived, photographed or directed, however—despite having a pseudo-television appearance with regards to budget—for Harrison’s film does its damnedest to capture a gothic, Hammer horror atmosphere via the American drive-in market. The film succeeds in this respect, as it tells the tale of a movie production, shooting a horror film on location in a creepy, nearly abandoned mansion.
Veteran actor John Carradine portrays the mansion’s caretaker Edgar Price, who knows well the mansion’s hidden secrets of murder and the undead, who lurk below the soil in the outside cemetery. The cast and crew—dominated by John Ireland as the taskmaster director—unwittingly release the evil via their reading from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, thus allowing the titular “seven corpses” to begin piling up around the mansion.
The film does its best with what is a bare bones and basic script. House of Seven Corpses isn’t the most exciting or action packed film of its class, yet it remains a watchable, if a bit slow, affair from the early days of horror which demands the viewer be in a vintage state of mind in order to properly appreciate these old school chills.
Severin Films presents House of Seven Corpses in an anamorphic widescreen presentation which preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. Colors are considerably bright and saturated, given the film’s age, with only minor print damage blinking across the screen for a few moments during running time. The mono sound is clearly audible, without drops, with a solid collection of extras to be had, as well, including a 1983 career-spanning interview with co-star John Carradine and audio commentary with associate producer Gary Kent, moderated by Alamo Drafthouse programmer Lars Nielsen. Overall, House of Seven Corpses receives a respectful treatment from Severin Films.