The House of Seven Corpses (1974)

Directors are notoriously horrible to the actors in their films. Witness the way Friedkin treated the cast of The Exorcist or how Hitchcock told Tippi Hedren that mechanical birds would be used in a scene in The Birds, only for real ones to be used in an incident that she described as “brutal and ugly and relentless.”

The House of Seven Corpses is all about Eric Hartman (John Ireland, I Saw What You Did), a director who is making a film in an actual haunted house. A zombie is awakened because the actors find The Book of the Dead and use the words in it for authenticity.

Disclaimer: The Tibetian Book of the Dead isn’t a book of evil spells but actually describes the period of time between death and rebirth.

Soon, people start dying left and right, starting with caretaker Edgar Price (John Carradine!) and leading to a grave featuring David, the director’s assistant’s name. One by one, the cast succumbs to the zombie, who finally takes his girlfriend back to his grave.

Director Paul Harrison was a writer on the TV show H.R. Pufnstuf. One wonders how much that experience colors this film. The director is completely out of his mind, screaming and yelling and damaging anyone that comes near to him. Perhaps he’s the real monster.

This is an enjoyable trifle, but nothing to lose your brains over. You can check it out for yourself at Shudder.

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