Five stories taken straight from the famous comic of the 50s makes this anthology from 1973 a Halloween must
Anyone remember those old anthology horror movies from the 1970’s? Vault Of Horror, The House That Dripped Blood, Asylum; there were a few of them doing the rounds and many were productions from British horror studio Amicus. For my money, Tales From The Crypt is the best of the bunch. Five separate “twist in the tale” morality plays, and best of all, they were based on the original stories found in the EC comics from the 1950’s.
The comics were eventually banned; a victim of Dr Wertham and his campaign to clean up comic books to stem the tide of juvenile delinquency, and everybody suffered. There were even organized comic book burnings in the US, while everybody just stopped and glared at them. Unthinkable now.
The film, directed by veteran horror master Freddie Francis, had a star-studded cast including Peter Cushing, Joan Collins, Ralph Richardson, Ian Hendry and many more.
The stories in this masterpiece, as in many other similar pieces, had a wraparound that held everything together. In this case, each of our five main characters finds themselves in a tour group visiting ancient catacombs. They lose the guide and the rest of the group, and discover a secret chamber where they meet The Cryptkeeper. He goes through each of the cast, introducing the audience to their individual stories as he goes.
The stories are “And All Through the House”, in which Joan Collins faces a maniac Santa Claus; “Reflection of Death”, wherein a cheating husband meets a ghostly fate; “Poetic Justice”, which sees Peter Cushing bullied to suicide by evil property lords, only to exact a revenge from beyond the grave; “Wish You were Here”, a monkey’s paw tale of wasted wishes; and “Blind Alleys”, set in a home for the blind run by an evil megalomaniac.
Each story is a cracker, and though dated, they have wit, charm and some generally eerie images. The psycho Santa and classic zombie rising from the grave are still evocative enough to raise an eyebrow, and the harrowing climax of “Blind Alleys” is still chilling.
Amicus would plunder the EC comics again for the sequel Vault of Horror, and though not as strong, it is still worth a view.
There is no doubt that this company were onto something, as Tales From The Crypt was made into an HBO show, and the first episode was a remake of “And All Through The House”.
For a classic Halloween retro horror, you could do a lot worse than this satisfying, way ahead of it’s time chiller.
This review is part of our #31DaysofHorror feature which is running all throughout October. Check out the other entries.
Louie Fecou reviews films, tv shows and comics for Ready Steady Cut, HC Movie Reviews and We Have A Hulk. He currently runs his own business in between watching films.