Main cast: Nicholas Ball (William Peters), Rachel Davies (Emma Peters), Brian Croucher (George Evans), Pat Maynard (Jean Evans), Milton Johns (AJ Powers), and Joanne White (Sophia Peters)
Director: Tom Clegg
The House That Bled to Death is easily the best title ever in this series, or any series for that matter, heh, and it’s among one of the most popular episodes too, based on the lists and mentions by other critics and fans of this series. I wonder, though, whether time has done this one a big disservice. Perhaps it was amazing for its time, but watching it today, this one boasts haunted house effects that look awkwardly fake and even unintentionally hilarious. I know, I know, but still…
William and Emma Peters are a middle-class couple who, with their daughter Sophia, move into an old big house which they purchased for a rather cheap price. The place is quite rundown, but William is confident that they can fix up the place nicely. The neighbors, the Evans, are nice and everything seems to be looking up for them… until weird things begin to happen. Blood begins dripping from walls, two knives start showing up at oddest places, and then there are the weird sounds. And that’s before the family cat gets killed in a gruesome manner. What do you know, a fea years ago, a man living in this same house brutally murdered his wife, and perhaps the house is now haunted as a result.
This episode has a simmering, slow build up, which is great, but sadly, aside from the infamous dead cat scene, the rest of the payoff looks sadly hokey. That scene which gives this episode its name is especially memorable for all the wrong reasons: the fake blood they use is of an unnaturally bright red color, and hence looks very artificial, and hence, the scene in which this fake blood just keeps gushing for so long makes me laugh at how ridiculous the whole thing is. It’s probably scary back in 1980, but today, it’s hard to be scared by such an obviously staged scene.
I like the first of the two twists towards the end, as it is actually an inventive development in an otherwise standard haunted house episode full of typical and even overused tropes. The other twist after that one feels like it’s tacked on just to force this episode back into the some semblance of horror, though.
This isn’t a bad episode by any means – it has atmosphere and solid build-up, even if the pay-off can be disappointing. However, it’s also one of the episodes that fail to stand up to the test of time the most.