The year was 2001. It happened on the 20th of November. It was a Tuesday evening when a certain set of words were spoken sometime between 8:00-8:30pm on NBC. Very telling words.
“Is that one of those movies that takes 45 minutes for anything to happen, and then you’re sorry it did?”
This quote was uttered by Martin Crane, a fictional character played by John Mahoney on the television show Frasier. Well Martin, your quote sums up the film The House of Seven Corpses to a tee! I know, I know, you were referring to some other movie. But it works so well here! In fact I would say your assessment is even too generous for the film I am reviewing. The House of Seven Corpses took about 70 minutes for something to happen.
In case anyone is confused, the film in question did not premiere in 2001 on some “20 day” in November – this is the date that the Frasier episode with the Martin Crain quote aired. The House of Seven Corpses (Directed by Paul Harrison) came out in the theaters in February of 1974. It’s a film about a film. A film crew is shooting a horror movie in an old house where suspicious deaths had occurred many years ago. The horror turns real when a corpse buried in a grave behind the house comes to life and starts doing zombie-stuff. You can learn more about the plot details here at Wikipedia. But please note: the synopsis as described in this article doesn’t really begin until the movie is almost over. Until then, viewers have to sit through boring scene after boring scene that shows the mundane activities of a fictional amateur film crew. Snore!
Here’s an interesting note: I originally wanted to see the film – The House of 1000 Corpses by Rob Zombie. I didn’t know there was a previously released film that featured only seven corpses. (Does the visa-versa of this exist in other contexts? For example, is there a “House of One Thousand Gables” film to rival original story of a house with only seven gables?) So when I stumbled upon the 1970’s film with the “Seven-Corpse House”, I naturally assumed it would be the better of the two. Without having seen Zombies’ film, I suspect that I’m wrong. True, Zombie’s film is widely panned (according to Rottentomatoes.com). But it has to be more entertaining than Paul Harrison’s film. Zombie’s film is partially panned due to its excessive gore. But for me, gore is better than dull. And come on, one thousand corpses have to be better than seven!
All kidding aside, had the producers/writers of The House of Seven Corpses just settled for a mindless zombie film the results would have been better. They had an excellent location and a creepy old house with a winding stairway. As a haunted house lover, I appreciate these things and it’s a shame they didn’t make better use of what they had. They could have focused less on plot and more on creepy camera angles with more ghosts and zombies to fill the shadowy corners. They could have given a lot more attention to John Carradine’s character. A brilliant actor he is. Why was he used so sparingly?
I’m not saying that my suggestions would have turned this into a great movie. However, they would have made this film watchable at the very least. Anyway, soon I will watch Zombie’s film and then decide with finality if one thousand corpses are better than seven. Until then, I say good night. Here is a closing theme for ya!