The location for this Robert Bloch penned collection of
stories is a house that keeps finding its way back into the estate agents
window. Police Inspector Holloway (John Bennett) is down here to find out what’s
causing the rapid turnover in tenants for the gothic pile  and the village bobby can provide some
background starting with the first tenant edgy horror author Charles Hillyer
(Denholm Elliot). He’s dreamt up a chilling psychopath for his latest novel but
doesn’t count on the power of his own imagination to unsettle things. We’re
left wondering which he’s going to lose first his wife or the plot!  Elliot’s familiar twitchiness adds
credibility to his characters growing anxiety but even a spell on the
therapists couch can’t compensate for the lack of screen time necessary to
build the suspense needed in big horror themes like insanity betrayal and
murder.

Philip Grayson (Peter Cushing) is next to sign a tenancy
agreement he’s a retired stockbroker who discovers the face of an old flame
reflected in one of the exhibits at a waxwork museum. When old friend and rival
for the affections of the lost love, Neville Rogers (Joss Ackland), turns up
and makes the same connection the wax effigy has a profound effect and serious
consequences for both men. Sturdy performances from Cushing and Ackland keep
the story engaging until a muddled realisation lifts the veil on an un-shocking
finale to a clumsy take on the Salome legend.

A chat with the estate agent leaves the copper none the
wiser but we get to meet the new tenant,  po-faced John Reid (Christopher Lee) who moves
in with young daughter Jane (Chloe Franks). Willowy Ann Norton (Nyree Dawn
Porter) arrives to oversee the solitary child’s home schooling. They get on
like a house on fire which is just as well because Jane’s reading list includes
more than just fairy tales and this little girl knows exactly how to melt
daddy’s heart. By far the most disturbing of the stories this has a genuinely
creepy feel and compacts a dark idea into a confined space quite well.

The final tale features Paul Henderson (Jon Pertwee) as
petulant actor Paul Henderson about to appear in a low budget horror flick
forced to seek out his own authentic costume. Handy for him Theo Von Hartmann
(Geoffrey Bayldon) has left his card in the dressing room and is happy to
supply the perfect cloak to guarantee the actor steps convincingly into
character. Its good fun with wide eyed Pertwee flaring his nostrils at sultry
leading lady Carla Lind (Ingrid Pitt) in an eye-watering performance worthy of
a camp carry on.

There’s still time for the Inspector to make a late night
visit and provide an unfortunately comical completion to what could have been a
much better film had the house featured centre stage rather than becoming a
backdrop to some mediocre stories elevated by occasional flashes of decent
acting and crafted writing.

Review by Dancemakr

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