The Film (3.5/5)
House of Seven Corpses is exactly the type of film I remember filling up my childhood horror TV watching escapades. It is a creepy haunted house picture with a cast filled with genre veterans that I recognize from other films (John Carradine), and sort of recognize from other films (Faith Domergue, John Ireland). It's the type of film whose plot is recognizable from many other films, but stands out enough to be an intriguing little attention grabber, with an atmosphere and strangeness that makes it memorable long after the credits roll.
House of Seven Corpses came out during the 1970's violent horror boom, as horror filmmakers were moving away from atmospherics, creatures hidden in the shadows, and jump scares and more into the extreme bloody horror that has categorized the genre ever since. House of Seven Corpses is a film that is extremely light on plot, but has decent atmospherics, not quite on the level of an early 60's Hammer film, but quite impressive none the less, and a decent visual style courtesy of director Paul Harrison (who would not go on to direct any other features besides this one). Harrison's visuals appear to acknowledge genre movie clichés, and plays at them ever so slightly with certain visual gags and moments throughout the film. This combined with the excellent use of the haunted house location, creates something decidedly creepy and fun.
The film opens with a bloody murder which turns out to be part of a film production in progress. The film is shooting at an abandoned mansion with a history of murder. In the distant history of the house a series of 7 brutal murders occurred, and their legend has lingered over the household ever since. While wandering the house the crew find a copy of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and decide to integrate the book into the film, of course, the book appears to cause bizarre things to happen, and those initial seven murders may only be the beginning of the bloody murders in this house.
Severin Films presents House of Seven Corpses in a very good 1:78:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. The film looks quite good considering it's pedigree and age. There is a nice amount of detail present on the transfer, colors are decent, but some moments are brighter than others depending on the quality of the elements used. There are a few moments where the films colors do look a bit washed out. The blacks are solid, and there is a nicely intact grain structure present throughout. If you've seen House of Seven Corpses before you know that this is an upgrade in every way from the public domain versions you are used to, that being said there are quite a few bits of print damage throughout the film scratches, specks, cigarette burns, and one odd moment in the film where the frames tends to lock up for a second or two.
Severin presents the audio in a decent, but occasionally unspectacular DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track in English. The dialogue is audible for much of the films running time, but there are moments where I had to suddenly play around with the volume to understand what's being said. I hate to nitpick, but I really wish more releases like this included subtitles. The score did sound quite nice for the most part, and I did not detect any instances of pops, cracks, or hissing on the track.
There is a limited amount of extras on the disc, but they are quite good for what they are. The disc kicks off with an audio commentary with the films Associate Producer Gary Kent, and moderated by the Austin Film Society's Lars Nilsen. The commentary is quite interesting with Kent offering quite a few fun and informative anecdotes about the making of the film. We then get a 28 minute archival interview from around 1980 with screen legend, and co-star of House of Seven Corpses John Carradine. The interview was shot on what appears to be VHS, so please do not go in expecting Blu-ray quality. It runs about 28 minutes in length, and mainly sticks to Carradine's genre work. The final extra is an HD version of the films theatrical trailer.
Not the most original horror film of all time, House of Seven Corpses still offers plenty to recommend in it's running time. The A/V restoration courtesy of Severin Films is a large step up from what has come before, and the extras will be of interest to fans of the film. RECOMMENDED.