FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Oct 15, 2009

Day 15: "How's it feel to kill somebody?"

You know what I like? Truth in advertising. Therefore, I like that The House of Seven Corpses (1974) actually has seven corpses. As best as I can remember (and really, I'm trying not to remember), the House of 1000 Corpses was missing several hundred. This is all neither here nor there...I am just saying.

The titular house once belonged to the Beal family, the members of which all met grisly ends by unexplainable, often illogical suicides (how does one shoot oneself in the back, exactly?). A crew is now holed up in the venerable house, shooting a Hammer-style film that's loosely based on the Beals.

The movie-within-a-movie boasts a few lite black masses, which feature the requisite stabbings, black candles, and reading from an eeeevil ancient tome. When one of the actors comes across the Tibetan Book of the Dead lying around Chez Beal, director Eric Hartman (John Ireland) figures "It may be garbage, but it's better than the garbage the writer gave us". The book is read aloud during the course of the shoot, and as you can imagine, this is a big mistake.

The dead rise in the film, all bandaged toothache-style...and they also rise from the Beal family crypt out back, all crusty-faced and frizzy-haired.

And that's pretty much it. All of the action takes place within the last half hour of the film...although "action" isn't quite the right word, as all of the murders occur at a snail's pace. I've given an overview that may give the impression that The House of Seven Corpses is logical, but it's not. Very little of it makes sense if you try to take a closer look, so it's best to throw your brain out the window and simply enjoy the movie.

I did enjoy it quite a bit, although I'm hesitant to recommend the thing. Let's put it this way: if I were to rewrite my recent column discussing guilty pleasures, this film would surely make the list. It's not good, but I liked it. It's got that slow mid-70s's chock full of character actors (John Carradine getting offed by a zombie? Come on!)...there are liberal doses of humor and it never seems to take itself completely seriously...and for some reason that must be deep-rooted in my psyche, crusty old oatmeal-faced zombies always work for me.

And then there's the sequence wherein the lead actress's cat gets into a staring contest with a painted devil kitty...

Wait...what am I saying? Kitty cat Mexican standoffs? Oatmeal-faced zombies? This is the best movie ever!

No,'s not. But I liked it. Watch at your own risk.

As if to prove there really is some sort of Internet Kismet or some such, Mr. Arbogast dissected The House of Seven Corpses for his 31 Screams series just yesterday! It's a small world, after all.


Jason Adams said...

Does that cat have cataracts?

And are they... the Devil's Cataracts?


Kensington said...

Yes! I remember this one from my childhood. It would pop up occasionally on the weekend horror movie show, and it was always welcome because it was relatively recent, in color, and had an unhappy ending (which I was keen on back then).

Stacie, have you ever seen Witches Mountain? I think it might be up your alley. It makes zero sense, but it's kind of stupid neat. You can watch it for free through IMDB.

Arbogast said...

Wouldn't it be weird if we were watching this at the same time?

B-Movie Becky said...

Good point about advertising with the corpse number. That's one of the things that completely threw me out of Zombie's House.

Stacie Ponder said...

Why, I've never even HEARD OF Witches Mountain! I'll check it out anon.

Even weirder, Arbo, would be if we were the same person. I'm still not discounting the possibility.

Chris Otto said...

"House of Seven Corpses" was one of those movies that warped me as a kid in the 1970s.

As far as Witches Mountain, I watched it recently on one of those 50-packs and it was pretty dreadful. There's some fun stuff, for sure, but I think it falls a little short of "So Good It's Bad." But I reckon it's worth a viewing at least.