Ray Cameron, 1984
Starring: Vincent Price, Kenny Everett, Pamela Stephenson, Gareth Hunt
Two doctors go to investigate Headstone Manor, believed by locals to be cursed. Several years prior, almost 20 people were killed there by satanic monks. Doctors Mandeville and Coyle are joined by a team to examine levels of radiation and supernatural phenomena in the house. Meanwhile, out in the neighboring woods, a 700-year-old satanic priest lurks, ready to repeat another satanic sacrifice and empty the house of all its intrusive guests. A number of strange things occur around the house and satanic doubles of some of the scientists begin to kill off and replace the originals. Will any of them escape before the ritual is complete?
As with Murder by Death, House of the Long Shadows, and the most famous example, Clue, Bloodbath at the House of Death was one of many old dark house, horror/mystery spoofs, though it is easy to see why it was forgotten alongside the others. Overall it is fun, but it doesn’t really work as a cohesive film. There are simply too many things going on and the fact that this was meant to be a vehicle for British comedian Kenny Everett is certainly baffling. I had no idea who he was until I saw this film and many of the jokes, like Everett himself, are sadly dated. While he is occasionally hilarious (the gag about the bat, for example), it seems like his comedy is more geared towards television than a feature length film.
Personally, I think that if you’re going to call a movie Bloodbath at the House of Death, there should be a lot of death and also a bloodbath or two. While the opening is pretty promising, the rest of the film disappoints because, of course, it is trying to be a comedy/spoof and not a blood-soaked horror film. Where House of the Long Shadows suffered because it wasn’t sure if it wanted to be a horror film or a comedy and constantly wavered between the two, I think Bloodbath at the House of Death would have benefited from more serious, gruesome horror elements and less of the ridiculous comedy that mostly fills up the plot.
To be fair, this is certainly a spoof for someone who has seen a lot of horror films, particularly films released at the end of the ‘70s and in the early ‘80s. There are numerous references to other films from The Amityville Horror to American Werewolf in London, Jaws, Rosemary’s Baby, and several more. Some of these are funny, but many serve as a reminder that you could be off watching something a lot better instead of Bloodbath at the House of Death.
It’s taken me awhile to mention him, but of course Vincent Price is the best thing about this film. He absolutely steals every scene he is in and it’s a shame he wasn’t given more screen time. Everett is average at best, but there’s a welcome appearance from Graham Stark (some of the Pink Panther films). I believe many of the other actors (as well as director Ray Cameron) were part of the group Everett regularly used for his show.
I can’t say I would recommend Bloodbath at the House of Death, but if you really love horror spoofs and you are a Vincent Price completest, it might be worthwhile. This is available on region 2 DVD, though I would recommend a rental first.