Archive for the ‘Peter Cushing’ Tag

And Now the Screaming Starts (1973)   3 comments

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Newly married Catherine Fengriffen (Stephanie Beacham) arrives at her husband’s ancestral castle expecting romance and love.  Instead she encounters weird portraits, a peeping ghoul, and a disembodied hand.

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“Hiya!”

Catherine keeps seeing nutty stuff no one else sees.  Everyone thinks she’s rattraps so they send for Dr. Whittle, played by the always comforting Patrick Magee and Dr. Pope, the kind and brilliant Peter Cushing.  Catherine’s husband, Charles (Ian Ogilvy), gets a bit frustrated with his neurotic wife and the fact that their honeymoon is less sexy romance and more researching the family curse and calling the doctor.

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“Yes, a hand.  I see.  Is it time for bed?”

Anyway, the house continues to gaslight Catherine and no one will tell her the backstory.  She sees hands and spooks and windows open by themselves.

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“Let me give you a hand with that.”

It’s a real party until she finally hears the legend.  You see, Henry Fengriffen, Charles’ grandfather, had a wife and child, but ignored them and filled his house with the scum of the earth.  Drunken orgies, full of harlots, debauchery, and bad singing, go on for days.  During one particularly grotesque spree, Fengriffen breaks into the house of humble serf, Silas (Geoffrey Whitehead) and his new bride, Sarah (Sally Harrison).  Fengriffen’s attack on the young couple brings on a curse which haunts poor Catherine today.

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“Coochie coochie coo!”

Will Patrick Magee and Peter Cushing rid the house of demons?  Will the curse continue to annoy and vex Catherine?  Will Herbert Lom trim his eyebrows?

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“Apply leeches liberally until sense is restored.”

Roy Ward Baker directed AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS based on Roger Marshall’s screenplay of David Case’s book.  Phew.  It’s a decent horror film, but it could use a little oomph.  More screen time for Cushing, Magee, and Lom could only improve it.  Look for Rosalie Crutchley as a servant.

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In the night. In the dark.

haunty

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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

 

The House That Dripped Blood (1971)   1 comment

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An English country house provides the setting for four Robert Bloch tales in the Amicus anthology film, THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD.  A.J. Stoker (John Bryans) explains to Detective Inspector Holloway (John Bennett) that the murders the detective wants to solve stem from an evil which dwells in the walls of the cottage.  To prove his theory to the incredulous police officer, he tells four stories.

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“It’s move-in ready.”

“Method for Murder” stars Denholm Elliott as Charles Hillyer, an author of murder mysteries who needs the peace and quiet of a country house to write.  He and his wife, Alice (Joanna Dunham) move into the house so Charles can finish his book.  Charles loves the house from the beginning.  With bookshelves swollen with Edgar Allen Poe books and gothic bric-a-brac, he thinks the house will be the perfect cure for his writer’s block.  He’s right.  Soon, Charles’ creative juices flow and he creates a crazed killer to perform his literary evil deeds.  When Charles thinks he sees this madman around his house, things go off the rails a bit.  Elliott and Dunham play well together and the direction by Peter Duffell moves it along smartly.

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“It slices AND dices?”

You know when you go into a rural wax museum and see a figure who looks like your ex?  Me neither.  Philip Grayson (Peter Cushing) has worked hard all his life and amassed enough to live out the rest of it comfortably.  He sees the house as a quiet spot where he can read and think.  While strolling through the nearby village, Grayson sees a sign for Jacquelin’s Museum of Horror.  Charmed by the thought of such a place out in the country, Grayson enters the shop.  Unfortunately, all is not as it seems in the quaint museum.  “Waxworks” also stars Joss Ackland as Neville, Grayson’s old friend, who also wanders into the shop.  The two men become fixated on what they find there.  They probably should have gone into the tea shop instead.

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“I could’ve had a V-8.”

Christopher Lee looks sufficiently tweedy in “Sweets to the Sweet”.  He plays John Reid, a successful businessman who moves out to the country house with his daughter, Jane (Chloe Franks).  He doesn’t want to send the shy, troubled girl to school so he hires a private tutor, Ann Norton (Nyree Dawn Porter) to teach her at home.  The teacher and child develop a bond almost immediately and Ann begins to wonder why Reid wants to keep Jane so isolated.  The closer teacher and student get, the farther apart Reid and his daughter become.  What’s the secret causing such tension?  I’ll never tell.

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“You disgust me.”

In “The Cloak”, Jon Pertwee plays Paul Henderson, a conceited movie star on the decline.  Forced to appear in a low-budget vampire film, Henderson complains about everything from the script to the wardrobe.  To introduce some authenticity into his role, Henderson heads to a costume shop and buys an old cloak.  As soon as he puts it on, Henderson discovers the cloak is more than just a costume.  Ingrid Pitt also stars in this fun take on the horror film business.  There’s also a cool in-joke.  In an obvious reference to Christopher Lee, Henderson says he wants to play a vampire “…like Bela Lugosi, not this new fella.”  I smiled all through The Cloak.  The whole cast, including Geoffrey Bayldon and an uncredited Joanna Lumley, worked well together.

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“I’m telling you that director’s a Dalek.”

The writing, cast, and atmosphere in THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD keep you entertained and thinking.  Fun flick.

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haunty

 

Tales from the Crypt (1972)   4 comments

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Clean up all this evil.

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