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Five Superb Tales Of Horror And Mayhem,
This review is from: Tales from the Crypt (1972) [DVD] (DVD)
"Tales from the Crypt", is a seldom seen Amicus Production and was one of that companies famed horror anthologies produced in the early 1970's. Based on the very popular EC comics going by the same name, this movie is often mistaken for the much later television series that told of similiar stories of horror and hayhem. Here is the original movie effort which contains five different stories of varying quality chronicling the deadly deeds possibly committed by five unsuspecting tourists who visit a catacomb in the English countryside. The question is however are these deeds actually from the past? The group become trapped in a scary sealed chamber where they encounter a sinister elderly man dressed as a monk (Sir Ralph Richardson), who relates their stories one by one and we are treated to some horrific lessons in the consequences of greed, murder, and deceit.
Story one "All Through the House" is my personal favourite and stars a perfectly cast Joan Collins as Joanne Clayton a scheming wife who murders her much older husband on Christmas Eve in order to retrieve a large life insurance policy. Joanne however gets more than she bargained for when after she disposes of her husband's body in the celler she herself becomes the victim of a most unexpected "visitor" who most certainly is not there on Christmas Eve to deliver gifts!
Story two "Reflection of Death", is perhaps the weakest of the stories and finds an unfaithful husband Carl Maitland(Ian Hendry), preparing to leave his wife and young children and run off to start a new life with his mistress. However things dont go as planned when the pair have a car accident and George suddenly finds himself in a bizzare time warp where things have most certainly not turned out as he had expected them to. Is what he witnesses real or is it just a dream?
Story three is "Poetic Justice", and is probably the most eerie of the stories and stars the great Peter Cushing as lovable old vagabond Arthur Grimsdyke who lives alone in an old house with his numerous dogs and spends his time making toys for the local children. Arthur however is the thorn in the side of snobby neighbour James Elliot (Robin Phillips), who begins a sadistic campaign to rid the area of his socially undesirable neighbour. Elliot however goes too far in making Grimsdyke's life a misery which ends in tragedy and he pays a deadly and very bloody price for destroying the humble little man's life one year later on Valentine's Day.
Story four "Wish You Were Here", is based on the terrifying story of the Monkey's Paw and revolves around ruthless and greedy businessman Ralph Jason (Richard greene),who suddenly finds himself bankrupt and badly in debt. Discussing the situation with his wife Enid (Barbara Murray) the pair suddenly notice for the first time an inscription on a valauble and mysterious oriental statue that promises the owner three wishes. What should be a blessing instead turns into a living nightmare as the couples "wishes' are interpretated literally with dire results for everyone involved especially the unfortunate Ralph who experiences an especially grizzly end.
Story five "Blind Alleys", stars Nigel Patrick as Maj. William Rogers a sadistic ex army officer who is placed in charge of a home for blind men. Very soon he is redecorating his office, and cutting back on fuel and food for the men. Aided by his savage dog he strikes terror into all the men until they form a plan and led by George Carter (Patrick Magee), take matters into their own hands and dole out a suitably chilling revenge on the Major who pays dearly for his treatment of the residents.
Like many anthology films some of the sections are more effective than others. The Joan Collins segment is especially powerful as it is done with minimal dialogue and with the continual drone of Christmas Carols playing during scenes of murder and mayhem. I really love this segment and have a tradition of starting off my Christmas DVD viewing with this segment before moving on to more traditional festive viewing. The image of death with its skeletal face riding Richard Greene to his death in "Wish You Were Here", is also a very powerful image from this film as is his terrible torment when he comes alive but is full of embalming fluid at the conclusion. Along with the classic "The House That Dripped Blood", "Tales", makes great spine tingling viewing if you like mini stories told within the one film. It is also highly recommended for its first rate British cast that really bring these stories of the macabre alive. Amicus and Hammer productions were the leaders in these type of horror tales and their work nowadays is sorely missed. Enjoy