Sunday 18 October 2009
Bloodbath at the House of Death
If you’ve ever wanted to see Vincent Price bang his hand on an axe-head and shout “Oh shit!” then this British horror spoof is the movie for you. Price appears as “The Sinister Man”, parodying his roles in various Roger Corman films, and is for a while the best thing about Bloodbath at the House of Death (1984), until his unceremonious exit about halfway through. Amongst the rest of the cast – most of whom play scientists and other experts investigating the titular mansion – Pamela Stephenson (Not the Nine O’Clock News) probably comes off best, despite enduring copious fart gags, Kenny Everett’s dubious attempts at physical comedy, and being stripped naked by an invisible force à la The Entity.
Yes, the standard of jokes in Bloodbath is about on a par with The Kenny Everett Television Show, meaning that you’ll likely either love it or hate it depending on your taste for innuendo-strewn, frequently incoherent grossness. If anything, however, the freedom to push the gore and nudity to the limit results in a lazier approach, meaning that the writers are too often content to rely on the aforementioned fart gags, while anything approaching a clever spoof of horror clichés falls by the wayside.
Bloodbath works best through a haze of nostalgia, recalling a time in British history when increasing permissiveness on TV collided head-on with escalating concerns over violent “video nasties” – and this feels like the bloody aftermath. Call an ambulance... Or, better still, a coroner.