Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Thirty-something Days of Night: Tales From The Crypt (1972)

Whether it be the brilliant short prose collections from Stephen King or Clive Barker or the horror comics of the seventies and eighties, I have always been a fan of antholigies. There is something about collections of horror tales that brings back memories of sharing ghost stories at sleepovers while the weather outside plays tricks on your mind.

Over the next couple of reviews, I'll be re-visiting some of my favorite horror portmanteau films, but you'll have to bear with me since I am on assignment here at Fort Bragg, NC and the equipment available for use leaves a lot to be desired.

First up will be the 1972 Amicus Productions classic, Tales From The Crypt.

The film consists of five tales all based from stories drawn from EC Comics mainstays, Tales From The Crypt and The Vault of Horror. The segments are linked by short seagueways held together by the menacing presence of Sir Ralph Richardson as the titular Crypt Keeper.

The first tale, And All Through The House, features Joan Collins as a disgruntled socialite that succeeds in murdering her husband only to draw the attention of a serial killer masquerading as Santa Claus.

Next, we have the blood chilling Reflections of Death which features Ian Hendry as a two-timing husband that discovers all too soon that infidelity has a heavy price.

The third story, Poetic Justice, showcases Hammer and Amicus regular, Peter Cushing as Arthur Grimsdyke; a kindly old man tormented by snobby neighbors that want to take possession of his property. This story is probably the one for which the film is best known due to the publicity stills of Peter Cushing made up as an avenging revenant.

The fourth story, Wish You Were Here is merely another rehashing of W.W Jacob's classic morality tale, The Monkey's Paw, while the final tale, Blind Alleys, is pretty much a by the book revenge tale but with a slight twist.

Tales From the Crypt remains one of my favorite films. Sure, the acting is about what you'd expect, but it isn't a half bad start. And All Through The House is far too cliched to be an effective chiller and it doesn't help that you are actually on the side of the serial killer in this little affair.

Reflections of Death and Poetic Justice are by far the quality entries of this collection. Reflections is surreal in its delvery but it ultimately waits too long to deliver the final blow while Justice is a nice, tight narrative that ends with a sinister and satisfying conclusion.

I personally feel that Tales is a tad unfairly maligned. The horror portmanteau films which followed were certainly much better, but they probably wouldn't have seen the light of day if it had not been for the commercial success of this particular movie.

If anything, Tales will certainly seem dated to the average horror veteran but it should also make you feel that cold shard of nostalgia in your heart that you experienced when you saw your first late, late show.

I believe that Tales has been re-released on DVD for quite some time, but I have noticed that it always seems to find its way into Cinemax's heavy rotation around this time of year.

Check it out if... if you dare!!!!!

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