Archive for the ‘Diana Dors’ Tag

From Beyond the Grave (1974)   1 comment

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Four stories, centered around a curiosity shop make up the Amicus anthology film, FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE.  Peter Cushing, the antiques-dealer and owner of Temptations, Ltd. treats his customers with respect and works to find just the right piece for each of them.  Unfortunately, some of them try to take advantage of his generosity.  Things don’t go well for them.

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“We’re closed,”

In the first story, “The Gatecrasher”, David Warner, arrogant playboy, knows he underpaid Cushing for a valuable mirror.  At a party in his home that night, Warner and his friends decide to have a séance which accidentally summons a malicious spirit living in the looking glass.

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“Hiya!”

Rather than tell Warner he’s the fairest of them all, the specter tells Warner he’s hungry.  What do evil mirror guys eat?  Blood, naturally.  Soon Warner does his best Seymour Krelboyne impersonation only instead of feeding a carnivorous plant, Warner feeds a mirror spook.  No one who crosses his path is safe.  After a few days, Warner’s chic apartment looks like a slaughterhouse and he looks like hell.  The apparition, however, looks ready for his close-up and it’s clear that Warner didn’t get such a bargain.

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The DMV takes the worst pictures.

Businessman Ian Bannen passes veteran Donald Pleasance every day on his way to work.  Pleasance sells matches, shoelaces, and buttons and Bannen kindly overpays for each purchase.  Bannen also patronizes Peter Cushing’s shop.  In “An Act of Kindness”, the second segment in the anthology, Bannen wants to buy a Distinguished Service Order ribbon from Cushing who agrees if Bannen can show him the proper paperwork to prove he won the honor.  Bannen doesn’t have to show Cushing no stinking paperwork so he steals the medal instead.  It’s a bad idea to rip off this shop owner and Bannen soon finds this out.  When his shrewish wife (Diana Dors) berates him one too many times, Bannen seeks solace with his new friend Donald Pleasance and Pleasance’s real life daughter, Angela, who has a quiet, eerie way about her.  The father/daughter duo are not what they seem though and what happens next is a big surprise.

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“Thank you for getting me out.”

In “The Elemental”, Ian Carmichael picks up a silver snuff box from Peter Cushing’s shop.  He also picks up a mischievous poltergeist whose antics lead him to call medium Margaret Leighton to get rid of him.  Leighton’s wonderful in this over-the-top performance.  She plays a quirky spiritualist and clearly has a good time doing it.  Leighton is the best part of this story.

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“You are healed!”

The fourth tale, “The Door”, stars Ian Ogilvy and Lesley-Anne Down as a couple who buy an intricately-carved door from Temptations, Ltd. and find that it changes the mood in their flat just a bit.

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“This will look fabulous in the baby’s room.”

The stories in FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE, written by Robin Clarke and Raymond Christodoulou are not as entertaining as the ones in ASYLUM or TALES FROM THE CRYPT, but the acting is solid and there are some nifty twists for the O. Henry enthusiasts among you.  In terms of Amicus anthology films, I’m a completist so I’m glad I saw it.

haunty

 

Berserk (1967)   1 comment

berserk poster

Monica Rivers (Joan Crawford) runs a circus with a problem. Her headlining acts keep dying violently. As the death toll rises, Scotland Yard begins to take notice and they send a man (Robert Hardy) to investigate. With performers dropping dead, police hovering, and the rest of the troupe on edge, the stress level increases quickly. The circus performers start suspecting each other and their leader. Rivers isn’t winning friends either with her ‘my way or the highway’ demeanor or with her habit of romancing all the eligible men. She starts with co-owner Michael Gough and moves on to trapeze artist Ty Hardin.

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Ty’s turn.

The arrival of Rivers’ daughter Angela (Judy Geeson) complicates matters further and since no one is truly innocent, the audience wonders who is killing the great circus performers of England.

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All the other kids are going!

Berserk is a fun film for a few reasons. It’s Joan Crawford’s penultimate film and she gets to be queen of the over the top big top. She even gets to wear her own clothes. Berserk’s low budget did not allow for Crawford’s usual extravagant wardrobe so she brought her own. There are some interesting circus scenes too. The dog act is particularly fun and fortunately, the film keeps clown presence to a minimum.

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We’re here to give the circus a little class.

Directed by Jim O’Connolly (The Hi-Jackers, The Valley of the Gwangi), Berserk holds your interest. Circus shenanigans and spectacular deaths make for an entertaining show and Joan Crawford’s histrionics are always a treat. The cast of capable supporting actors and real circus performers make the film fun to watch. Look for Diana Dors as a mouthy magician’s assistant.

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What could happen?

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What’s this guy doing here?

Joan even manages to inject some Pepsi product placement into the film. I like Joan Crawford in films like Strait-Jacket, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, and Berserk. She knows how to chew her some furniture.

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Is that my paycheck?

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