Throughout their decade long
production run Amicus had their best successes with anthology horror
pictures, but producer Milton Subotsky was continually trying new
things, leading to a disasterous run of sci-fi, arthouse and thriller
films in the mid 1960s, and a bizarre attempt to make a 3-D Jekyll and
Hyde movie (I, Monster (1971)). Tales from the Crypt (1972) marked their return to the classic portmanteau format and was based on the popular EC horror comics.
visitors become seperated from their tour group in some underground
catacombs and find themselves in a sealed chamber along with a
mysterious man who shows them the horrible deads in their thoughts. All Through the House
- on Christmas Eve, Joanne Clayton (Joan Collins) murders her husband
and plans to throw the body down the fire escape, but things are
complicated when an escaped lunatic arrives outside the house. Reflection of Death
- Carl Maitland runs away with his mistress, but they are involved in a
horrible car wreck, and as he staggers from the wreck he becomes
confused as people start screaming and fleeing at the sight of him. Poetic Justice
- businessman James Elliott and his father Edward decide to get
rid of their very working class neighbour Arthur Grimsdyke (Peter
Cushing) with a hate campaign, blaming him for lowering their house
price. Taking away his dogs and scaring away the children he used to
befriend, they leave him a loney and saddened man, until he gets his
revenge. Wish You Were Here -
businessman Ralph Jason (Richard Greene) is in trouble, having gambled
with money that was not his, and lost it all, his wife hopes that their
problems would go away, wishing on a small statue they brought while on
holiday - but the wish comes very true. Blind Alleys -
Major William Rogers is the new superindentant of a home for the blind,
and keeps all of the money for himself, leaving the men cold and
hungry, but when one of their friends dies of the cold, they plan an
The film gets off to a bad start with the simply pointless All Through The House
that makes no sense (murdering her husband in a lounge where there
could easily be witnesses or traces of blood left behind, instead of
killing him in the basement where she takes him anyway) and is quite
tiresome - the second part, Reflection of Death is equally uninteresting and drags out its denoument far too long. Fortunately the film picks up for Poetic Justice
which is undoubtedly the best segment of any Amicus horror picture. The
script was largely improvised by Peter Cushing and it manages to make
the character so incredibly sympathetic that it is almost unwatchably
tragic and tear-jerking. The story is very well paced for the format
and builds up to a superbly fitting climax. The fourth chapter is a
clever little monkey's-paw riff with an amusingly different ending,
although a sequence with the doomed Ralph Jason driving his car does seem
to go on a little too long. The final chapter is an interesting idea,
but too similar to Poetic Justice and generally too slow to be interesting. The link story is pretty typical, showing people their sins, although Wish You Were Here does seem a little forced into this format, coming up with a very brief explanation at the beginning for Jason's crimes.
Freddie Francis had worked extensively with Amicus in the mid-1960s,
but often fell out with co-owner Milton Subotsky. However, this
important big-budget picture needed someone reliable and Francis came
back for the last time to helm. He does a superb job throughout -
despite the daft story, the first story is a masterpiece of atmosphere
and contrasting colours (mostly red blood on white carpets) while three
and four both have some wonderful gothic and surreal touches. Special
effects are limited but look pretty good (two shots were
bad enough to warrant BBFC cuts). As usual Douglas Gamley provides the
score and does a generally good job, although Bach's Toccata and Fuge
in D minor is a little cliché to open.
star Joan Collins is top billed here in a rather unimpressive and
unbelievable performance, while young Chloe Franks as her daughter gets
a lot less to do than in The House that Dripped Blood
(1970). Peter Cushing however gives the best performance of his
distinguished career, a real tear-jerking role as a kindly old man
tortured by his wicked neighbour - surely not a dry eye in the house
after this chapter. Robin Hood, in the shape of Richard Greene plays
the victim of the monkey's paw, while horror regular Patrick Magee
gives a strong performance as the leader of the neglected blind men in Blind Alleys - a pity it was not in a more serious film.
Tales from the Crypt contains the best Amicus anthology chapter (Poetic Justice)and an enjoyable entry (Wish You Were Here)
but is otherwise uninteresting. Worth watching for Peter Cushing's
performance alone, Amicus captured the comic book feel a lot better in
their follow-up Vault of Horror (1973). Partly recommended.
famous in it?
Peter Cushing - the popular British horror star who appeared in all but one of the Amicus horror titles. Richard Greene - once the beau of Hollywood he gave it up to fight in the war, found fame on TV as Robin Hood.
Directed by anyone
Freddie Francis - a two-time Oscar winning cinematographer who spent the 1960s and 1970s directing cult horror films, from Hammer's Paranoiac (1962) to Legend of the Werewolf (1975) for Tyburn.
Is it scary?
Some blood, and two quite gory shots.
Who is it for?
All Peter Cushing fans should see his performance in the third story, otherwise only of interest to Amicus fans.
Aspect Ratio - 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour. The print is very good, with no print damage and only very mild grain.
English original mono, sounds good throughout. Spanish dub track.