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 vibe...it'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, really...it'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.