Originally published on October 8th, 2013
The title, House of Seven Corpses, should instill a necessary modicum of fear and apprehension within the audience; at worst it should provide comedy you can laugh at as you try to ingest the fear, right? The House of Seven Corpses fails to deliver on anything it promises, whether it be horror, entertainment, or even seven actual corpses! The horror must have taken a look at the script and fled itself because there’s nothing that goes on throughout this 89-minute snooze-fest unless you wanted to hear classic movie actor John Ireland talk about orgasm…you didn’t, well then you’re in trouble.
Director Eric Hartman (Ireland) is filming his new horror movie in a house reputed to be filled with murders and other torturous events. In the name of authenticity, Hartman has his cast re-enact occult based events that happened within the house, setting off a series of events, and a real ghostly entity, intent on murder.
I guess you want a full-review of this; I figured my introduction did a decent enough job that you wouldn’t have to read past the cut line. Oh, well. The movie takes its basic premise from similar films like The House on Haunted Hill (1959) and The Legend of Hell House (1973), although the only thing “torturous” in House of Seven Corpses is the acting and story. Suffice it to say, there’s more scares in The Canterville Ghost (1944), and I’d have applauded Margaret O’Brien showing up to put some life in this dreck.
Unfortunately, the people assembled here are a group of somnambulist masquerading as actors. John Ireland barks all his lines when he isn’t talking through clenched teeth. The one line that stood out is when he’s directing an actress on how to enter a trance appropriately: “I said you were supposed to be going into a trance, not an orgasm.” I never needed to hear John Ireland say that. Thanks movie! The rest of the cast are all faceless bores, with B-movie queen Faith Domergue playing leading lady Gayle Dorian. I have a few other pictures with Domergue as the star and hopefully she’s decent in those.
The problem is that in 89-minutes the movie wanders around looking for something, anything, to happen! The opening recreations of the various murders and stabbings happening in the house is cool, and ends with a rather realistic black mass (for 1974, at least). When this all ends up as artifice for the movie, the audience hopes the real bloodletting is even better. You shouldn’t have to beg for footage from this fake horror movie to sate you, it should be on the screen itself!
Every single horror movie trope is utilized, leaving House of Seven Corpses as a cheap copycat of better horror pictures. For instance, you have the character who obviously knows too much about the location everyone is in; there’s creepy music and cross-cutting to heighten fear that isn’t present, jump scares, and a character reading Latin! (When will people understand it’s in a different language for a reason?) Other than a dead cat in the first half hour, absolutely nothing that could be construed as horrific happens until the final three minutes. The rest of the time the movie becomes immersed in romance between characters I could have cared less about. I know because I don’t remember anyone’s names.
Suffice it to say, The House of Seven Corpses lacks in everything: plot, interesting characters, or anything fearful or malevolent; the special effects and make-up are cheap and there appears to be no budget for them because I never saw it. There’s better haunted house movies out there; skip this entirely.
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A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.