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March 1, 2014

Movie Review: The House Of Seven Corpses (Blu-ray + DVD Combo, Severin) 1974

Review By: Rob Sibley

Severin is one of the best companies currently in business. Sure you won't find a new release from them every week... but when they do release a film (Much like Synapse) it's pure perfection. THOSC was scheduled to come out the same day as the classic "House on Straw Hill" but Straw was pushed back due to print damage. But they (David Gregory and crew) care about the fans, about us little guys. They live for niche and perfection. Much like Don May Jr. at Synapse.

The House of Seven Corpses lives up to it's name and then some. From start to finish it's a fun old school film. Surprisingly rated PG. It's not a gore fest but it's R-rated stuff. Within the first 3 minutes we witness how these seven people became corpses. Each death/suicide more violent then the next. A very trippy Bava type opening that hooks you in from the get go.

If you dig the genre of "Old Dark House" movies then you'll love this. It features all the hallmarks of those creepy classics. Unlike most of those films this film doesn't take itself that seriously at all. What also makes this film so special is that the main characters are older gentleman. No stupid pretty boys that can't act. John Carradine steals every scene and he's loving it. John was probably the best actor of all the Carradine's. He has such a rich history in film and especially in horror films.

Then the always reliable John Ireland is loving it as the rough and tumble director just trying to make his movie. The plot is simple and fun, it's a film within a film. It's a low budget budget movie about low budget filmmakers making a movie in a haunted house! A plot that has been exploited to death these days... "House of Bones" comes to mind.

I would love to discuss the plot more but it would spoil the fun! Paul Harrison did a fantastic job directing this picture. Sure it has a slight TV movie feel to it but Paul was famous for his TV work and this was his only feature film actually that wasn't a TV movie.

Severin Films brings THOSC to Blu-ray (included as well is a DVD). It a revelation of a transfer It's a wonderful 1080P Transfer presented in it's original (finally!) aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Sure expect plenty of scratches and print damage and that lovely film grain. The film has never looked this good, if you remember that old DVD release that looked like a horrid third gen bootleg then you'll be in for a treat. Leave it to David Gregory to put this much time and work and money into an amazing (uncut) transfer of this lost gem.

For Audio we get a great DTS Mono track which is rich and clear and has some of those lovely "pops" in the audio.

The special features are really where this wonderful Blu-ray shines. We start out with one of the best commentary tracks I've ever had the pleasure to listen to. It features the films producer, Gary Kent and is moderated by Lars Nilsen of the Alamo Draft House theater. 

It's one of those rare commentary tracks that's better then the film itself. You find out wonderful stories about John's habit of being a "Naughty boy" who loved his ganja and loved his booze. You hear tales about him, Robert Mitchum comes up as well. Plenty of amazing information about "old Hollywood". pop up.

Listening to this is like hanging out at an old school L.A. restaurant and eavesdropping on a conversation with a legend. Lars Nielsen really needs to moderate more commentary tracks since his film knowledge is out of sight.

Next up is a wonderful rare interview with John Carradine. John seems to be a tad stoned during this interview. He certainly isn't happy about discussing his horror work since as he said "I've made over 400 films and only 25 of them were horror". He doesn't knock the genre but since he's very much a classically trained actor he frowns a bit that people focused on his horror work. The interview looks like it was sourced from a VHS. But that adds to the charm seeing that VHS is now hip. But it's a nice glimpse into the mind of a true legend.

Severin Films outdid themselves with this release of THOSC. It's a must buy, anything from Severin is worth owning. Just due to the sheer time and money and thought and love put into their releases. The movie is a fun Old Dark House film which would look amazing in Black & White. It features enough gore and enough creep moments to satisfy horror fans. But this is a classy picture, low budget sure. But it has that old time 1940's kind of class to it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. A MUST BUY.

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