TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1972) Amicus Anthology Classic Reviews

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Tales from the Crypt is a 1972 British horror anthology film consisting of five separate segments, based on stories by EC Comics. Only two of the stories, however, actually come from EC Tales from the Crypt. It was produced by Amicus Productions.

Directed by Freddie Francis from a screenplay written by co-producer Milton Subotsky, based on stories by Al Feldstein, Johnny Craig and William M. Gaines.

Title

Ground:
Five strangers accompany a group of tourists to visit the ancient catacombs (Highgate cemetery). Separated from the main group, they find themselves in a room with the mysterious Crypt Keeper (Ralph Richardson), who details how each of the strangers will die…

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…And throughout the house (The Vault of Horror #35) – After Joanne Clayton (Joan Collins) kills her husband on Christmas Eve, she prepares to hide his body but hears a radio announcement that a murderous maniac (Oliver MacGreevy) is on the loose. She sees the killer (who is dressed in a Santa Claus costume) outside her house but cannot call the police without exposing his own crimes. Believing the maniac to be Santa Claus, Joanne’s daughter unknowingly lets him into the house, and he apparently begins strangling her to death…

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reflection of death (Tales from the Crypt #23) – Carl Maitland (Ian Hendry) abandons his family to be with Susan Blake (Angela Grant). After they leave by car, they are involved in a car accident. He wakes up in the wrecked car and attempts to hitchhike home, but no one will stop for him. Arriving home, he sees his wife (Susan Denny) with another man. He knocks on the door, but she screams and slams the door. He then goes to see Susan only to find that she is blind from the accident. She says Carl died two years ago from the accident. Looking into a reflective table, he sees that he has the face of a corpse. Carl then wakes up and finds it was a dream but the moment he does, the accident happens as before.

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poetic justice (The Lair of Fear #12, March–April 1952) – Edward Elliott (David Markham) and his son James (Robin Phillips) are a snobby couple who resent their neighbor, retired garbage collector Arthur Grimsdyke (Peter Cushing) who owns a certain number of animals and entertains the children in his house. To get rid of what they see as a blight on the neighborhood, they drive Grimsdyke into a frenzy by waging a smear campaign against him, first resulting in the removal of his beloved dogs (while one of them came back to him), and later exploiting parents’ paranoid fears of violence.

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On Valentine’s Day, James sends a number of poisoned Valentines, supposedly neighbors, to Grimsdyke, driving the old man to suicide. A year later, Grimsdyke returns from the dead and exacts revenge on James: the next morning, Edward finds his son dead with a note saying he was mean and had no heart – the word ” heart” represented by James’s heart, ripped from his body.

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wish you were Here (The Lair of Fear #22, Nov-Dec 1953), is a variation of W. W. Jacobs’ famous short story “The Monkey’s Paw”. Ruthless businessman Ralph Jason (Richard Greene) is near financial ruin. His wife Enid (Barbara Murray) discovers a Chinese figurine that says it will grant three wishes to whoever possesses it; Enid decides to wish for a fortune; surprisingly, this comes true, however, Ralph is killed on the way to his lawyer’s office to retrieve it.

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The lawyer then informs Enid that she will inherit a fortune from her deceased husband’s life insurance plan. She uses her second wish to return him to the way he was just before the accident but learns that his death was due to a heart attack (brought on by fear when he sees the figure of “death” following him on a motorbike ). As she uses her dying wish to bring him back alive and will live forever, she discovers he has been embalmed. She tries to kill him to end her pain, but because she wished he lived forever, every part of him is alive and well. She has now trapped him in eternal pain.

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dead ends (Tales from the Crypt #46, February–March 1955), Major William Rogers (Nigel Patrick), the new manager of a home for the blind (staffed mostly by old and middle-aged men), makes drastic financial cuts, reducing the heating and rationing food for residents, as he lives in luxury with Shane, his Belgian Malinois. When he ignores the complaints and a man freezes to death, the blind residents, led by the stone-faced George Carter (Patrick Magee), demand an equally cruel vengeance.

After Carter and his group subdue the staff, they lure and trap Major Rogers and his dog in two separate rooms in the basement. The blind men then begin to construct a maze of narrow corridors in the basement, some of them lined with razor blades. They starve the major’s dog, then place the major in the center of the maze, free the dog, and turn off the lights in the basement…

After finishing the final tale, the Crypt Keeper reveals that he was not warning them of what was about to happen, but telling them what had happened; they are all dead, and it is too late to repent…

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Comments:

“But once you get past the inconsistencies, which most anthology movies have in spades anyway, you’re left with five of the best and most gruesome tales the genre has to offer, with nasty surprises for everyone and solid performances throughout (especially, as always noted, by Peter Cushing as Arthur Grimsdyke).

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“Reflection of Death” in particular has always chilled me – the clever use of the point-of-view camera leaves the audience genuinely worried about what we’re going to see when Hendry finally gets to a reflective surface, but before we’ I had time to assimilate it correctly, the scene changes and we get this terrifying noise. I love it. Everything.” British Horror Films

“British horror pictures tend to have an air of royalty which elevates the material slightly; a little more prestige, if you will. There are also plenty of wonderful practical effects on display, especially the zombified Grimsdyke which hasn’t been on screen for quite a long time. In fact, no segment overstays its welcome, ensuring audiences will want more once the credits start rolling. dread center

“The five episodes of Tales from the Crypt are unnecessarily long, although Tales benefits from the participation of Hammer Films stalwarts, including director Freddie Francis and actor Peter Cushing […] Everyone delivers professional work in front of and behind the camera, but everything is done by heart. All movies from the 70s

tales_from_the_crypt_1972_poster_04Tales from the Crypt is one of the best anthology films of this period thanks to its decent cast, choice of tales, and the fact that five stories are crammed into its roughly 90-minute runtime, so you’re never far from a pleasing setup or cheerfully wicked punchline. The script and direction are okay, if not spectacular, but the main benefit here is how much fun the movie takes in its own badness. ‘Cause it’s the man’s number

“The stories are short and awfully sweet, but only the last, ‘Blind Alleys,’ remains memorable.” John Kenneth Muir, 1970s Horror Movies: Volume 1 1970 – 1975

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“Unfortunately, the only style exhibited by Freddie Francis, who directed the film, and Milton Subotsky, who wrote it, is in their silly appreciation for old storylines, and especially in their authoritarianism with other people’s stories, including The Monkey’s Paw.” Vincent Canby, The New York Times, March 9, 1972

Tales from the Crypt is a perfectly realized entry in (and perhaps the best example of) the British anthology subgenre. In a way, I guess you could also consider it one of the first (and best) comic book/graphic novel film adaptations. Oh the Horror!

“Most of the stories themselves are pretty good, with Wish You Were Here being the highlight, although as mentioned it sticks out a bit, not really matching the eye-for-eye tone of the film. The stories seem to be much shorter on characterization than in previous Amicus efforts, it’s like they’re looking forward to getting to the end of the clash. The rotating image

“British horror fans will no doubt continue to debate what has been Amicus’ best anthology film for as long as films are released, but if you were to save one, if the world as we know was coming to an end, and you could bury just one in a time capsule for future civilizations to study, and then Tales from the Crypt could well be that one. This is, in many ways, the epitome of Amicus production. spooky islands

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