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Bloodbath at the House of Death

**
1984

‘…the overall effect is still something of a shambles…’

Really, Netflix? With 100 years of films to choose for a 1080p reissue directly into the homes of a petrified populace, and in a time of crisis, THIS is what you choose? I’d written before about the ridiculousness of Amazon Prime selecting Mae West-goes-disco comedy Sextette to lead their 2019 Fall line-up, but in terms of competing to stream the tattiest films imaginable, Netflix clearly responded by saying ‘Hold my beer…’

When Bloodbath at the House of Death appeared in my Coming Soon selection, I assumed it was a South Korean horror film that happened to share the same name, but no, this is genuinely the barely seen 1984 vehicle for British DJ and comedian Kenny Everett, who chose to make a horror comedy for his one and only starring role. Everett was a cult figure in the UK; he’s portrayed in the Bohemian Rhapsody movie in which he chats to Freddie Mercury and is the first to publically play the titular song. He’s also remembered as an acolyte of Margaret Thatcher, appearing at a Conservative Party Conference exhorting the Tories to ‘bomb Russia.’

Not much of Everett’s tv style is revealed in this feature debut, which takes a lead from Airplane! by offering up an endless string of gags themed around recent movies. There’s scene by scene lifts from Alien, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Shining, The Entity and others, occasionally with funny results, but many of the gags in Barry Cryer and director Ray Cameron’s script are head-scratchers today. Everett plays Lukas Mandeville, who alongside his assistant (Pamela Stevenson) attempts to spend the night in a house which is some kind of gateway to hell. The Sinister Man (Vincent Price) is responsible, but he vanishes around the hour mark without interacting with any of the main cast, leaving the film without a villain, momentum or direction.

Bloodbath at the House of Death was a notable flop back in 84, and there’s no obvious reason for its exhumation. There’s a foreshadowing of Edgar Wright’s similarly brash Hot Fuzz here, but that’s more due to the latter film’s deliberately retro style. Stephenson flashes her chest, Everett clowns with a metal leg, various tv faces (Gareth Hunt, Cleo Rocos, Sheila Steafel) acquit themselves reasonably, but the overall effect is still something of a shambles. Of all the films that might expect a streaming re-launch, this is one of the strangest to date.

Bloodbath at the House of Death is now streaming on Netflix UK.

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  1. Decisions like this boggle the mind. A movie that bombed, a movie that didn’t become a cult classic, a movie that nobody wants today, OF COURSE that’s what the general populace wants right now. Decisions like this make me wonder how Netflix has lasted as long as it has.

    • You’d have thought getting a good IP would be a priority as streaming changes, or building up a rep for good taste in movies. But there’s no defending a film like this, which sank without trace on release and is the last film I’d restore and stick on Netflix. The fireworks son is a ‘comic’ in the UK, so maybe that’s the explanation, if not a reason.

    • Archivists and historians may find something to view here, but after discussing with Booky the cost of restorations, this one really is apropos of nothing….

    • I saw this on VHS and it was rubbish. There’s moment worth mining in the old tv show, but not here, nope. And was Stephenson contractually oblicated to bare her chest in th 70’s and 80’s? Privates on Parade, History of the World, this, she disrobes with monotonous regularity….

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