DIRECTOR: Paul Harrison
Thomas J. Kelly
When seven people are brutally murdered inside an old mansion, A director and film crew decide to shoot their new movie based on the exact events in the same house where the murders occurred. They are warned by the caretaker that they shouldn't mess with things that they don't understand but decide to still film on the property. They'll soon discover that reenacting the rituals from the original murders will have grave consequences for the entire cast and crew.
As The House Of Seven Corpses started, I was pleasantly surprised as the film opens with a pretty big bang. The movie begins by revealing the original seven murders that are cut together with the opening credits. As the actor's names appear on screen, we are treated to the original characters being murdered in seven different ways. We see that people are shot, stabbed, drowned, and hanged, and this all happens in the first several minutes. It's a great way to open the movie and gives us all the exposition we need on the history of the murders.
The movie wastes no time in introducing us to the actors, director and film crew who are working on a film that is based on the exact murders that happened in the very location that they have chosen to film their movie. This silly director wants to be as authentic as possible, even if he has been warned by the caretaker to not meddle in things he shouldn't. As with every horror movie, the director decides not to listen to that warning and bad things begin to happen.
After such an entertaining and ferocious opening scene that involved seven murders before the credits had even finished rolling. The film sadly never really has another moment that equals the bar set by the opening. Everything after this scene just sort of flatlines in a whole lot of dialogue-heavy scenes that are weighed down by some of the most annoying characters ever put on screen since I've started my seventies and eighties slasher retrospective.
The House Of Seven Corpses is also let down massively by the fact that this film crew are all idiotic. A lot of inferior character decisions are written into this screenplay, and it doesn't make me like any of these characters more. In fact, I wanted to see every single one of them killed off in very gruesome fashion. It's just a shame that we do have to wait almost an hour and twenty minutes to see such justice handed out to these terrible characters. If they had started on the carnage earlier, this movie might have been more entertaining.
I think the biggest problem that people will find with this movie is the pacing. The film is plodding for most of the running time. As I mentioned above, this is very dialogue heavy. The film opens well and even the last ten minutes is a lot of silly fun, it's the other eighty minutes where the film really drags. The entire middle section of this is watching our lead actress bitching about not being happy with her wardrobe, or her makeup, the crew and other actors. She comes across as a massive pain in the ass, and it's not very pleasant.
My last gripe with the film is the third act. This is is a slasher but has supernatural elements. Not a big spoiler as the poster ruins it, but our killer is, in fact, a zombie. Raised from the dead, he decides to murder the entire cast and crew in the final few minutes. It's utterly ridiculous, but after such a slow first and second act, I actually welcome the absolute absurdity of a zombie slasher. Throw in some occult mumbo-jumbo, and you have something that really doesn't work, but it makes up for the problems in the first and second acts.
Is The House Of Seven Corpses scary or suspenseful? No. The plot is so nonsensical that most of the stuff that happens in the movie is laughable and comes across as campy instead of scary. The movie has a few scenes that try to build suspense, but they end up going nowhere. We have one scene that slowly builds like we will get a solid jump scare but ends in an almost attempted rape scene which just turned the tone on its head. It all felt slightly uncomfortable.
Lastly, the acting in this film is very hit and miss for me. The characters are written to be so dislikeable that it made it hard for me to really appreciate the acting on display. If we were going for actors who were meant to act annoying, then they all deserve an Oscar nomination. The one person who I think made any impact on screen was John Carradine as the caretaker. I thought he had the most sympathetic role in the movie. His character is also the man who tried to warn everyone, but no one would listen to, and for that, we have the eventual killing spree that closes the movie.
DEATH TOLL: 13
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Someone is gunned down.
- Someone drowns in a bathtub.
- A man falls over a banister to his death.
- People are repeatedly 'fake' stabbed to death on a set.
- A man is strangled with film stock.
- Someone's throat is slashed.
- A woman is shown hanging from a noose.
- A man is repeatedly stabbed.
- Someone's head is bashed in.
- Someone is choked to death.
- A man is shot in the head.
The House Of Seven Corpses is a mixed bag. The film is a supernatural slasher that features the occult and a zombie killer. Featuring a sluggish pace, terribly annoying characters who all make awful decisions and a plot that really doesn't make all that much sense can't be saved by a pretty entertaining opening scene and a silly and over the top final. If you love zombie films, you may want to give this obscure little supernatural slasher a once off watch.