Archive for the ‘anthology horror’ Tag

Tales from the Crypt (1972)   4 comments

crypt poster

Five strangers, lost underground during a guided tour of some catacombs, find their way into a stone crypt. The door closes behind them locking them in with Sir Ralph Richardson clad in a monkshood.

ralph
Who wants to play charades?

The crypt keeper (Richardson) commands them to sit and proceeds to tell them why he’s summoned them. This anthology horror film brought to you by the good folks at Amicus Productions consists of five stories originally found in the comic books of William Gaines. Written by Gaines, Al Feldstein, and Johnny Craig and adapted for the screen by Milton Subotsky, Tales from the Crypt was the fourth portmanteau horror film made by Amicus. Patterned after the Ealing Studios’ 1945 film Dead of Night, the popular films told each character’s separate horror tale to its captive audience.

joan2
Did anyone see an ant?

The first story, “And All Through the House” stars Joan Collins, domestic bliss, and Santa. In “Reflection of Death”, Ian Hendry kisses his wife and kids and goes for a ride. “Poetic Justice” stars Peter Cushing as a sweet old man grieving the death of his wife. He loves children and dogs and has nothing but good on his mind. His evil neighbors find his quaint ways too messy for their fashionable neighborhood.

peter
Why are they so mean?

“Wish You Were Here” is a modern take on W.W. Jacobs’ story “The Monkey’s Paw”. The final tale, “Blind Alleys” stars Patrick Magee and Nigel Patrick in a memorable segment which reminds you about that thing they always say about karma.

magee
Even my kids think I’m creepy.

Full of hyperbole and graphic violence, the stories’ comic background give the film a theatrical flair. They pull you in and the performances ground the film. Full of seasoned actors, Tales from the Crypt is believable in spite of its over the top storylines.
Freddie Francis, who won two Oscars for cinematography (Sons and Lovers, Glory) and many British and European awards and nominations for films like The Elephant Man and Cape Fear directs this film as a straight horror/thriller and can ratchet up the suspense when he has to. He trusts his cast of veteran character actors to come through and they do. Joan Collins goes a bit over the top in her segment, but that’s why we love her.

guests
I brought dip.

I’ve long been a fan of anthologies and Amicus knows how to make them. Hammer gets all the glory, but I prefer these lower budget stories. We’ve seen the actors before and the sets are recycled, but the stories are a lot of fun.

In reading about this film I found out that Peter Cushing wanted the part of Arthur Grimsdyke.  Originally cast in “Wish You Were Here”, Cushing requested that he play the part of the kindly widower instead.  He had just lost his wife in real life and was instructed to play himself.  It’s a sweet role.

If you like anthology horror as much as I do, please check out my review of Vault of Horror also on this blog.

Oh I almost forgot.  My favorite part of Tales from the Crypt was when the crypt keeper, Sir Ralph Richardson first appeared and my teenaged daughter said, “Hey, is this Time Bandits?”  Smile-inducing.

evil
Clean up all this evil.

Vault of Horror (1973) 31 Days of Horror   1 comment

poster vault

Five men meet in an elevator over which they have no control. Sounds…like Tuesday morning in a large office building, right? Not so fast. The elevator takes them to a basement vault (of horror!) where they sit at a nicely set table and have drinks. Ahhhhhhhh! The film is British, after all. As the men begin to talk, they realize they all have frightening dreams so one by one they tell their stories. So begins this portmanteau horror film set in modern day (1970s) England. The five tales, directed by Roy Ward Baker (A Night To Remember, Don’t Bother To Knock) involve betrayal, revenge, and murder. And vampires! William M. Gaines and Al Feldstein of EC Comics and MAD Magazine fame wrote the stories and they boast an exaggerated, dramatic flair. All five storytellers have one thing in common. They’re all nasty people.

five
Lesser X-Men cosplayers

Daniel and Anna Massey (real life brother and sister) play siblings in the first tale. The characters they play must have had some awkward family dinners. In the second segment, Terry-Thomas and Glynis Johns are newlyweds starting a less than idyllic marriage.

glynis
Tell me again the dinner was late.

Curd Jürgens and Dawn Addams travel to India searching for novelty for their magic act in the third. They find it. In the fourth story, Michael Craig and Edward Judd partner up in a plot that goes awry. Their tale also stars Robin Nedwell and Geoffrey Davies from the old Doctor in the House TV series. In the last of the five parts, Tom Baker ditches the TARDIS and gets a lesson in voodoo in Haiti. Denholm Elliott appears as well.

voodoo
Did you bring your co-pay?

These vignettes boast a stellar cast of British film and television actors. Some act as part of the Amicus Productions repertory company and some appear in small cameos. Amicus made a number of anthology horror films like Torture Garden (1967), The House That Dripped Blood (1971), and Tales From the Crypt (1972) and often used actors borrowed from Hammer films like Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and even Vincent Price to headline its casts.
My attention span rivals that of an adolescent gnat so I love anthology films and short stories. The plethora of character actors in these films makes it fun too. While Vault of Horror lacks the depth of a full-length feature film, it makes up for it with its inventiveness, cool cast, and inside jokes. At one point Michael Craig reads a paperback copy of Tales From the Crypt and later looks almost directly into the camera and says, “There’s no money in horror.” If you watch Vault of Horror with a sense of humor and enjoy the campiness, you’ll enjoy it as much as the cast seems to.

knife
You feel a sharp pain where?

I wrote this for the 31 Days of Horror challenge on cinemashame.wordpress.com @cinemashame on twitter.

I’m @echidnabot on twitter.

mummy-shame

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