When I was working on The Time Monster, seeing Ingrid Pitt on screen with Jon Pertwee reminded me of this movie, which Pertwee made soon after production wrapped on his first season as the Doctor in 1970. He plays horror movie actor Paul Henderson, and you can tell the movie was made after Inferno because if you look on the wall of Henderson’s dressing room, you can see a publicity shot of Pertwee from that story on the wall..
Although it’s not a Doctor Who story, and thus outside our Fan Edit remit, neither are the Peter Cushing movies, and I’ve tackled those, so why not do this one as well? There are certainly plenty of connections to Who in the film, since this not only features Pertwee and Pitt, but also Geoffrey Bayldon and John Bennett. I’ll leave it to others more talented than I in the mashup department to do a Kelvington or a Season 26B on this and turn it into Dr Who meets Countess Dracula. I’ll stick to a straight cut-down edit of Pertwee’s section of the film, “The Cloak“.
Amicus, the same studio that made the Peter Cushing Dalek Movies, knocked out quite a few of these portmanteau films in the late Sixties and early Seventies, including The Vault of Horror, which would feature a certain Mr Tom Baker. The form was always the same, an anthology of four or five Tales of The Unexpected-type shorts, joined together with some sort of framing story. In this one it’s the house of the lurid, if somewhat misleading, title, as there isn’t a single drop of blood to be seen anywhere in the movie, let alone in the house itself. Pertwee’s section comes right at the end, lasts about half an hour, and is played for laughs. Mostly.
As Pertwee recalls in his book I Am The Doctor, it seems strange that the writer Robert Bloch should complain about the cast sending it up, as the premise, that simply putting on a Vampire’s cloak can turn you into one yourself, is utterly bonkers. Any actor would find it a challenge to take that one seriously. The producers & director clearly thought so, as why else would they cast someone like Pertwee, whose comedic abilities were well known? Bizarre, to say the least. Still, we do have Ingrid Pitt’s tit-tastic cleavage to admire, and the girls would be on display again in a couple of years in The Time Monster.
There’s also an interesting Hammer homage to all of this in the Big Finish audio Tales From The Vault. Writer Jonathan Morris includes several Easter Eggs in the release, such as the title, the fourth Doctor story about a painting, and the third Doctor’s section of the story concerns a red infantryman’s jacket with similar properties to the cloak…
As well as truncating the opening and closing credits, the only other thing to do to edit this as a stand-alone instead of as part of an anthology, was to fix the final fight scene between Pertwee and Bennett. In the original, the shot where Pertwee throws Bennett to the floor is well over-cranked, making it rather comedic and undermining what was, until then, a rather creepy scene which, tonally, was completely at odds with what had gone before. As a result it doesn’t work and you can’t help but think that they would have been better off leaving well alone. In trying to fix it they only ended up making it even worse.