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Tales From The Crypt

United Kingdom 1972
Directed by
Freddie Francis
83 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
David Michael Brown
4 stars

Tales From The Crypt

Synopsis: Five strangers lose their way in a crypt and find themselves in the presence of The Crypt Keeper (Sir Ralph Richardson). Each tells his or her last memory, confessing to doing something wrong. The crypt-keeper listens to each before telling the five what has happened to them and the terrifying truth about their final destination.

One of the finest of the Amicus anthology films of the early Seventies, Freddie Francis’s Tales From The Crypt is the company’s fourth portmanteau horror film, following the likes of Dr. Terror’s House of Horror and The House That Dripped Blood. As with all of their films, some stories work, and others don’t but the tales from this crypt, based on stories from the EC horror comics of the fifties by William Gaines, have a pretty high strike rate.

Kicking things off, And All Through The House features a pre-Dynasty Joan Collins, then a regular face in Britspolitation flicks like I Don’t Want to Be Born (1972) and Fear Of The Night (1975), as a murderous housewife under siege by a psychotic Santa. It’s one the best stories in the film.

The second, and weakest of the tales, Reflection Of Death, Carl Maitland (Ian Hendry) and his mistress Susan (Angie Grant) are both involved in a car crash. When he clambers from the wreckage no one will help him, many recoiling in fear. Soon death is after him on a motorcycle, or is it?

The third tale, Poetic Justice, is the best of the bunch. Peter Cushing stars as Arthur Grimsdyke, a gentle old man whose life is made a misery by a scheming businessman who wants the land that his house is built on. A classic EC comic shocker, Grimsdyke dies of a broken heart but returns from the grave to wreak his bloody revenge on his heartless oppressors. Cushing, then grieving the loss of his wife, gives one of the performances of his career.

The penultimate story is a creepy tale of life after death. Wish You Were Here stars Richard Dean as a corrupt businessman who goes bankrupt. He is killed in a car crash but  “luckily” his wife finds a strange statue that will grant her three wishes. Her desperate attempts to bring Richard back to life go from bad to worse. Who knew embalming fluid could be so painful?

The final episode, Blind Alleys, finds us in a home for the blind under the brutal control of Maj. William Rogers (Nigel Patrick). Thrifty to the max, the former army man cuts costs by rationing food and lowering the heating. His starving wards, led by Patrick Magee decide to get their own back in a twisted maze of razor blades and a ravenous dog.

A fun thrill-ride from an era when horror didn’t mean gratuitous bloodletting, Tales From The Crypt chills without repulsing. Gothic horror at its finest. Make sure you stay for The Crypt Keeper's hysterical final message.




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