Tag Archives: Horror Anthology

Below The Crypt Lies Death’s Waiting Room…

Yesterday I caught another in the series of horror anthology films from Amicus Productions. Released in 1973, “The Vault Of Horror” was directed by Roy Ward Baker (“Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde”, “Asylum”.

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Unlike other films in the series, such as “The House That Dripped Blood” or “From Beyond The Grave”, there is no separate character linking the individual stories presented here.

The Lift
The Lift

As the film starts we watch five men entering a lift one by one, on different floors, as it descends through a block of flats in London. They find themselves in the sub-basement which is furnished and appears to be some kind of gentlemen’s club. When they discover that there are no buttons to summon the lift back and no other exit the five decide to sit down and have a drink. The conversation turns to dreams, with each taking their turn to describe the others a recurring nightmare that they suffer from.

Daniel Massey
Daniel Massey

The first, titled “Midnight Mess”, is described by Harold (Daniel Massey – “The Cat And The Canary”, “Scandal”) who dreams of himself hiring a private detective to track down his estranged sister Donna (Anna Massey – “Peeping Tom”, “Frenzy”) following their father’s death.

Anna Massey
Anna Massey

When he arrives at the town in which she lives a local warns him to get inside before it gets dark as that’s when “they come out”. Getting no reply at Donna’s house, he goes to a nearby restaurant for dinner only to find it closing as it’s starting to get dark.

Returning to Donna’s, Harold murders her because their father’s inheritance had been left solely to her. Finding that the restaurant has re-opened, even though it’s now dark, he returns there for a meal to find it full of “them”…

The second story, “The Neat Job”, is told by Arthur (Terry-Thomas – “School For Scoundrels”, “How To Murder Your Wife”) who is obsessively neat and organised. There is a place for everything in his home and everything in its place. Now, I am sometimes accused of having OCD when it comes to organising things but Arthur puts things into perspective!

Glynis Johns Terry-Thomas
Glynis Johns & Terry-Thomas

When he marries young trophy wife Eleanor (Glynis Johns – “Under Milk Wood”, “Mary Poppins”) he is exasperated when she rearranges things and fails to follow his exacting instructions.

Matters come to a head, literally, when Arthur loses his temper and shouts “can’t you do anything neatly? can’t you?” repeatedly at Eleanor – leading her to take drastic action…

Curd Jürgens
Curd Jürgens

“This Trick’ll Kill You” is the third tale. Sebastian (Curd Jürgens – “The Spy Who Loved Me”, “Goldengirl”) is a professional magician holidaying in India with his wife and on the lookout for new tricks to add to their routine.

Jasmina Hilton
Jasmina Hilton

He happens to see a girl (Jasmina Hilton – “Emmerdale”) performing a rope trick but is unable to persuade her to tell him how it works. He invites her to his hotel room to show the trick to his wife Inez (Dawn Addams – “The Vampire Lovers”) by pretending his wife is ill, but once there the couple murder the girl to steal the rope. However, they find that the rope isn’t about to co-operate…

Michael Craig
Michael Craig

Story four is “Bargain In Death”. Horror story writer Maitland (Michael Craig – “Lola”, “Payroll”) and a friend have devised an insurance scam that will see Maitland taking a drug that makes him appear to be dead. All that will then remain is for his friend to dig him out of his grave and they can claim the insurance payout.

Edward Judd
Edward Judd

Maitland’s friend Alex (Edward Judd – “The Day The Earth Caught Fire”, “First Men In The Moon”) decides to double cross him and leave him to his fate in his coffin, claiming the cash all for himself.

Geoffrey Davies & Robin Nedwell
Geoffrey Davies & Robin Nedwell

However, two trainee doctors – Tom (Robin Nedwell – “Doctor In Charge”) and Jerry (Geoffrey Davies – “Doctor In Charge”) are on the lookout for recently deceased bodies to practice on and pay the gravedigger to dig up Maitland’s grave. They all get more than they bargained on…

Tom Baker
Tom Baker

The final tale is called “Drawn And Quartered”. An artist, Moore (Tom Baker “Dr. Who”, “The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad”) is living in poverty in Haiti when he discovers that some of his work – that he was told was worthless – has been sold in London for high prices.

Moore visits a local voodoo priest and pays the priest to give him voodoo powers through his painting.

Terence Alexander
Terence Alexander

Returning to London, Moore visits the dealer, art critic and agent who he feels cheated by – Gaskill (John Witty – “Voodoo Blood Death”), Breedley (Terence Alexander – “Bergerac”, “The Day Of The Jackal”) and Diltant (Denholm Elliott – “Trading Places”, “The House That Dripped Blood”) – and tells them that he will have his revenge.

Denholm Elliott
Denholm Elliott

Moore paints portraits of the three and then damages the paintings in such a way as the subject will suffer the same fate. However, when he starts to lose his breath he realises that he must take his self-portrait from within the safe he stored it in. Having done so he suddenly remembers he left his watch in the Diltant’s office and sets off to retrieve it, leaving his self-portrait seemingly safe in his studio…

I particularly enjoyed stories two and five. Terry-Thomas is fabulous as the uptight and exasperated neat freak, whilst Tom Baker, complete with wild hair and beard, is great fun as the wronged artist.

Overall I felt that this was one of the better films in the Amicus anthology series…

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Turn The Knob, Open The Door, Step Past The Pool Of Blood, Walk Straight Ahead… And Scream Your Mind Away

Today I watched another of the Amicus Productions horror anthology films. Directed by Peter Duffell (“England Made Me”, “The Famous Five”) and dating from 1971, this one is titled “The House That Dripped Blood”.

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John Bennett
John Bennett

The connecting scenes here involve Detective Inspector Holloway (John Bennett – “Hitler : The Last Ten Days”) investigating the disappearance of a film star, last heard of renting an old country house.

John Bryans
John Bryans

Holloway meets with estate agent A.J. Stoker (John Bryans – Henry VIII And His Six Wives”) who tells him stories of some previous tenants of the house.

In the first story “Method For Murder” Charles

Denholm Elliot
Denholm Elliott

Hillyer (Denholm Elliott – “Raiders Of The Lost Ark”, “Bad Timing”), a horror story writer moves into the house to write a new book. The central character of his book is a psychopathic murderer named Dominic.

Joanna Dunham
Joanna Dunham

When Hillyer starts to see Dominic around the house he finds his wife, Alice (Joanna Dunham – “A Day At The Beach, “Scandal”), disbelieving so seeks advice from a psychiatrist. But is there more to Dominic’s appearances than meet the eye?…

Peter Cushing
Peter Cushing
Joss Ackland
Joss Ackland

On a walk into the local town he visits a waxworks museum where he is captivated by the model of Salome, who the proprietor claims was a murderess. When Grayson’s friend Neville Rogers (Joss Ackland – “Lethal Weapon 2”, “Royal Flash”) visits the pair go to the museum, despite Grayson’s reservations.

It’s not long before Rogers is also captivated by Salome…

Christopher Lee & Chloe Franks
Christopher Lee & Chloe Franks

In story number three, “Sweets To The Sweet”, widower John Reid (Christopher Lee – “Dr. Terror’s House Of Horrors”, “Too Hot To Handle”) moves into the house with his young daughter, Jane (Chloe Franks “Escape From The Dark”).

Nyree Dawn Porter
Nyree Dawn Porter

With no mother figure around, Reid employs a private teacher, Ann Norton (Nyree Dawn Porter – “From Beyond The Grave”, “The Cracksman”) to teach the girl at home. Norton cannot understand which Reid doesn’t allow his daughter to play with dolls, but when some candles go missing and Reid begins suffering sudden and inexplicable pains, things start to add up…

Jon Pertwee
Jon Pertwee

“The Cloak” is the final tale, where we are introduced to the film star mentioned at the beginning – Paul Henderson (Jon Pertwee – “Dr. Who”, “Worzel Gummidge”). Henderson has rented the house whilst he films a vampire movie nearby. In his quest for realism and perfection he finds a cloak in a local shop.

Ingrid Pitt
Ingrid Pitt

Unfortunately, he finds the cloak beginning to affect him in an unexpected way and changing the lives of both him and his co-star Carla Lind (Ingrid Pitt – “Countess Dracula”, “The Vampire Lovers”)…

Another perfectly competent anthology film, and in all honesty probably one of my favourites, there is some genuinely talented actors on display here and the whole thing is very enjoyable…

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Frenzied Fright! Freezing Terror! Screaming Nightmare!

I have previously written about a couple of Amicus Productions horror anthology films, “Tales From The Crypt” and “From Beyond The Grave”. Yesterday I watched a third, this one from 1965 and directed by Freddie Francis (“Hysteria”, “The Creeping Flesh”) and titled “Dr. Terror’s House Of Horrors”.

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Peter Cushing
Peter Cushing

The film opens with a group of five strangers sharing a railway carriage on a train departing London, who are joined by Dr. Schrek (Peter Cushing – “Frankenstein & The Monster From Hell”, “The Vampire Lovers”).

Dr. Schrek has a deck of tarot cards and tells the five that he can tell them their destiny by picking four cards from the deck, each scenario depicted in separate stories. A fifth card at the end of each story will then tell them how they can avoid the future foretold

Neil McCallum
Neil McCallum

In the first, “Werewolf”, architect Jim Dawson (Neil McCallum – “Catacombs”, “Quest For Love”) is requested to return to his former home on an island off the Scottish mainland by its new owner to plan some alterations.

Ursula Howells
Ursula Howells

Mrs. Biddulph (Ursula Howells – “Assignment K”, “Crossplot”), the new owner, explains that she bought the house as she wanted somewhere quiet and secluded to mourn the death of husband.

Examining the cellar, Dawson finds the coffin of Count Valdemar who owned the house hundreds of years previously before he was killed in a dispute with Dawson’s ancestors. It appears that Valdemar is taking the form of a werewolf at night but the truth may be more complex…

Alan Freeman & Bernard Lee
Alan Freeman & Bernard Lee

Story two, “Creeping Vine”, sees Bill Rogers (Alan Freeman – “Sebastian”, “Absolute Beginners”) returning from a holiday with his family to discover a rapidly spreading vine has begun to grow in his garden and resists any attempt to prune it.

Rogers seeks help from a scientist, Hopkins (Bernard Lee – “Thunderball”, “Diamonds Are Forever”), at the Ministry of Defence.

It seems that the plant has intelligence and harbours murderous intent to any threat to its continued existence…

Roy Castle
Roy Castle

“Voodoo” is the third tale, and has a definite sense of fun with obvious humour throughout. Jazz musician Biff Bailey (Roy Castle – “Carry On Up The Khyber”, “Record Breakers”) travels to the West Indies for some performances. Whilst there he witnesses a voodoo ceremony and is struck by the music used.

Despite warnings from his friend Sammy Coin (Kenny Lynch – “Carry On Loving”, “The Playbirds”) and from the locals who tell him that the music belongs to the God Dambala, Bailey decides to “borrow” the voodoo tune and use it in his shows back in London…

Christopher Lee Michael Gough
Christopher Lee & Michael Gough

In story four, titled “Disembodied Hand”, art critic Franklyn Marsh (Christopher Lee – “Season Of The Witch”, “The Lord Of The Rings”) is proud of his acidic reputation and happily scathing of artists’ work.

When he savages an exhibition by artist Eric Landor (Michael Gough – “Batman”, “Out Of Africa”) in front of the artist he finds himself being even more publicly humiliated in return. However, when Marsh resorts to violence things spiral out of control quickly…

Donald Sutherland
Donald Sutherland

The fifth and final tale, “Vampire”, finds Dr. Bob Carroll (Donald Sutherland – “The Eagle Has Landed”, “JFK”) returning from Europe to New England with his new French wife, Nicolle (Jennifer Jayne – “They Came From Beyond Space”, “On The Beat”).

Jennifer Jayne
Jennifer Jayne

When patients start turning up with blood missing and strange marks on their necks, Carroll’s colleague Dr. Blake (Max Adrian – “The Music Lovers”, “The Devils”) suggests to Carroll that a vampire may be responsible…

Dr. Schrek then tells the five what the fifth card shows and how they can avoid the destinies that he has shown them…

This is a decent enough anthology film, especially given its age, though it’s fair to say that the fate shown on the fifth card is worse than that suffered in a couple of the stories – though really that’s irrelevant by the time you get to the twist at the end.dr-terrors-house-of-horrors.24742

Terror To Delight Worshippers Of The Macabre

I have just watched another Amicus Productions horror anthology, following on from my recent viewing of their “Tales From The Crypt”. This one, from 1974, was directed by Kevin Connor (“The Land That Time Forgot”) and titled “From Beyond The Grave”.

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Peter Cushing
Peter Cushing

The film revolves around visits to an antique shop, Temptations L, where customers come across The Proprietor (Peter Cushing – “The Curse Of Frankenstein”, “The Satanic Rites Of Dracula”). An unexpected surprise awaits anyone who cheats this shopkeeper!

Each customer’s shop visit the leads into their own separate story, of which there are four contained within the film.

David Warner
David Warner

The first tale, “The Gatecrasher”, sees Edward Charlton (David Warner – “The Omen, “The Man With Two Brains”) tricking The Proprietor into selling him an antique mirror for a knockdown price, which is then pride of place in his home.

Marcel Steiner
Marcel Steiner

One night, inspired by the gothic design of the mirror, Charlton’s friends suggest holding a séance. Charlton falls into a trance-like state in which he meets a sinister figure, The Face (Marcel Steiner “Little Dorrit”), who stabs him upon which Charlton awakes from his trance. Later he sees The Face again in the mirror demanding sacrifices so that it can feed…

Ian Bannen & Diana Dors
Ian Bannen & Diana Dors

Story two is “An Act Of Kindness”. Here we find a frustrated middle manager, Christopher Lowe (Ian Bannen – “Ghost Dad”), trapped in a loveless marriage with his domineering wife Mabel (Diana Dors – “Passport To Shame”).

Donald Pleasence
Donald Pleasence

Striking up a friendship with an old soldier turned match and shoelace seller, Jim Underwood (Donald Pleasence – “You Only Live Twice”, “The Eagle Has Landed”), he steals a Distinguished Service Order medal from the antique shop in order to support his lie that he, too, is a decorated ex-soldier.

Angela Pleasence
Angela Pleasence

Lowe then meets Underwood’s daughter Emily (Angela Pleasence – “Symptoms”) and is seduced by her. When Emily presents Lowe wife a small doll with a likeness to his wife he agrees that she should cut it with a knife, little realising that chain of events that is about to be unleashed…

Ian Carmichael
Ian Carmichael & Margaret Leighton

“The Elemental” is the third story. Reggie Warren (Ian Carmichael – “The Lady Vanishes”) switches price tags on two snuff boxes in the antique shop and pays the smaller amount for the more valuable box.

During his train journey home a seemingly mad old woman, Madame Orloff (Margaret Leighton – “Lady Caroline Lamb”) disturbs his newspaper reading to inform him that he has an Elemental on his shoulder.

Nyree Dawn Porter
Nyree Dawn Porter

Warren assumes that she is slightly loopy when she offers her services, but when his dog disappears and his wife Susan (Nyree Dawn Porter – “The Protectors”) is throttled by an unseen entity he reconsiders and calls her asking for help…

Ian Ogilvy
Ian Ogilvy

The fourth and final tale, entitled “The Door”, finds writer William Seaton (Ian Ogilvy – “Return Of The Saint”) wanting to buy an ancient ornate door in the antique shop. He hasn’t enough cash to pay the full price so agrees a reduced fee with The Proprietor. When The Proprietor goes into the back of the shop he leaves the till open, and starts to count the cash therein once Seaton has left the shop.

Back at his home, Seaton attaches the door to his stationery cupboard but finds that when he opens the door he is suddenly able to see into a blue room containing notes of an occultist.

Lesley-Anne Down
Lesley-Anne Down

Before long both Seaton and his wife Rosemary (Lesley-Anne Down – “The Pink Panther Strikes Again”, “Countess Dracula”) find themselves trapped within the influence of the door…

This last story is very similar to the first, however, the major difference is in the fact that Seaton does not steal any of the money left in the open till or attempt to cheat The Proprietor in any way and thus has a different fate.

Like “Tales From The Crypt” this is a decently put together collection of stories, though the similarities in stories one and four suggest that perhaps a different tale could have replaced one of them and improved the film as a whole…

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Death Lives In The Vault Of Horror!

Last night on TV I caught an old 1972 horror anthology movie from Amicus Productions, “Tales From The Crypt”, directed by Freddie Francis (“Dracula Has Risen From The Grave”).

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Sir Ralph Richardson
Sir Ralph Richardson

Opening with a scene showing a group of people on a tour of some underground caves, five of them get separated from the main party and end up in a sealed chamber where they find the Crypt Keeper (Sir Ralph Richardson – “Time Bandits”, “Doctor Zhivago”) who instructs the five to sit.

Once seated, each is “shown” what they are supposedly planning to do later that night once they’ve left the crypt, in five separate short stories.

Joan Collins
Joan Collins

The first, “…And All Through The House” has Joanne Clayton (Joan Collins – “The Bitch”, “Dynasty”) murdering her husband on Christmas Eve whilst their daughter is upstairs awaiting Santa’s arrival.

Oliver MacGreevy
Oliver MacGreevy

Interrupting the Christmas songs, an announcement on the radio states that a homicidal maniac (Oliver MacGreevy – “The Ipcress File”) has escaped from a local hospital for the criminally insane and is on the loose, thought to be dressed up as Santa.

Joanne sees what she thinks is the killer outside her house, but is unable to call the police without risking her own crime being discovered…

Ian Hendry & Susan Blake
Ian Hendry & Susan Blake

“Reflection Of Death” is the second instalment, in which Carl Maitland (Ian Hendry – “Get Carter”) abandons his wife and children and runs off with another woman, Susan Blake (Angela Grant – “Carry On Girls”). He has a dream that they are involved in a car crash, which then actually happens.

Awaking alone in the crashed car, Carl makes his way home to find that his wife is with another man, so sets off to his lover’s home…

Robin Phillips
Robin Phillips

Story three – “Poetic Justice” – finds James Elliot (Robin Phillips – “Decline And Fall… Of A Birdwatcher”) and his father resenting their older neighbour, the recently bereaved Arthur Grimsdyke (Peter Cushing – “The Curse Of Frankenstein”, “The Satanic Rites Of Dracula”), who has a number of pet dogs and is popular with local children.

Peter Cushing
Peter Cushing

James and his father begin a smear campaign against Grimsdyke, get rid of his dogs and send vicious valentine cards to him, driving the old man to despair…

Richard Greene & Barbara Murray
Richard Greene & Barbara Murray

The fourth tale is titled “Wish You Were Here”. Businessman Ralph Jason (Richard Greene – “The Blood Of Fu Manchu”) is facing financial ruin when his wife Enid (Barbara Murray – “Up Pompeii”) discovers a Chinese figurine that will grant her three wishes.

Her first wish is for a fortune to come their way. When Ralph is killed in a car accident a large sum of insurance money comes her way. Her second wish is to restore her husband to the way he was just before the accident, but it’s her third wish that proves most problematic…

Nigel Patrick
Nigel Patrick

In the final story “Blind Alleys” we find Major William Rogers (Nigel Patrick – “Battle Of Britain”) having taken charge of a home for the blind. William makes drastic financial cutbacks, reducing the level of heating and rationing the food for given to the residents whilst he and his beloved German Shepherd dog live in luxury.

Patrick Magee
Patrick Magee

When one of the residents dies as a result of William’s wilful neglect, the rest of the residents, under the leadership of George Carter (Patrick Magee – “A Clockwork Orange”) plan to exact an elaborate revenge…

The Crypt Keeper finally explains to the five why they are there…

This horror movie isn’t up there with the best of them, in my view. However, it’s nicely put together, has some decent acting performances and plot lines. Overall, this film is effective enough – particularly bearing in mind that it is now forty three years since it was released – to warrant viewing…

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