As they have developed their home video repertoire, Severin Films has devoted a surprising amount of time and love to public domain horror films. Such titles are often ignored even by cult film labels since grey market dealers tend to flood the market with cheap, usually video source-derived releases of such films and thus reduce their value. Thankfully, Severin has bucked this trend in recent years and produced above average releases of bargain bin staples like Psychomania and Horror Express. Severin’s latest release in this vein is The House Of Seven Corpses – and it gives this public domain perennial the best treatment it has ever received on home video.
This set includes a new transfer presented in both blu-ray and DVD formats. The blu-ray was viewed for this review: though the elements used show some age-related damage in spots, the overall image is stunningly sharp and colorful. The design of the interiors, particularly the wood paneling, looks stunningly rich and clear in this presentation. The original mono mix is included here, in lossless form on the blu-ray, and it sounds very good for its age.
Severin has also included a trio of extras to flesh this set out. A vintage theatrical trailer gives the film a nice hard-sell in the old horror tradition. There is also a half-hour John Carradine interview from the early 1980’s. Despite a pedestrian line of questioning from the interviewer, the results are pretty intriguing: Carradine has plenty to say about his career, covering topics like his love of the theater, his German heritage and his friendship with Boris Karloff.
The final extra is a commentary track featuring associate producer Gary Kent and moderator Lars Nilsen. Kent is a well-traveled veteran from the glory days of exploitation filmmaking so he has plenty to say here. He tells some fun stories about John Ireland, who was apparently quite the pothead, and Carradine, who had an unusual habit that he indulged while drinking. Beyond the fun gossip, he also reveals a lot of interesting info about how this indie presentation was financed and produced in Utah (including shooting in a working historical society building). Nilsen keeps him primed with questions and trivia, including a John Carradine story of his own. The results are suitably compelling and well worth the listen for anyone who was mystified after watching this film on the late, late show.
All in all, this is an impressive upgrade for a public domain cult fave whose value is further enhanced by its set of extras. Fans of ’70s indie horror should consider the only version of The House Of Seven Corpses worth buying.
To read Schlockmania’s film review for The House Of Seven Corpses, click here.