Tales From The Crypt (1972)

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Connections: Tales From The Crypt

Five people are trapped in a crypt and are shown their futures by the Crypt Keeper. They are given the option of avoiding their fates - by avoiding living out the rest of their lives. First they must experience what they will do in their futures - or is it their pasts? --IMDb
Ralph Richardson
Ralph Richardson
Geoffrey Bayldon
Geoffrey Bayldon
Joan Collins
Joan Collins
Martin Boddey
Martin Boddey
Chloe Franks
Chloe Franks
Review by Chad
Added: October 10, 2007
Tonight, we find ourselves with another long lost film that is finally coming home to DVD, and... oh, what's that you say? You thought that the television series was the first appearance of our good pal the Cryptkeeper outside the pages of the comics? Well, maybe I just hang out with and talk to some uneducated people, but I've been thoroughly shocked (and saddened) by how many people were not aware of the original film, so maybe, just maybe, this review will serve to enlighten a younger generation of horror fans.

The obligatory wraparound sequence finds a bunch of tourists checking out the ruins of an old mausoleum, a place that the tour guide insists is extremely dangerous and easy to get lost in. So, with that in mind, five people split up from the main group and soon find themselves lost in the depths of the caves, where they eventually stumble upon the lair of the Cryptkeeper (Ralph Richardson). The Cryptkeeper proceeds to tell them five tales of terror which may or may not be intimately personal to each member of his audience, and this leads us to the main attraction of the film: five stories culled from the pages of the old Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror comics.

All Through The House
A woman (Joan Collins) brutally murders her husband on Christmas Eve so that she can cash in on his life insurance, but what she doesn't know - until it's too late, of course - is that a serial killer has recently escaped from the local mental institution. When this man shows up on her doorstep dressed as Santa Claus, our heroine in distress can't exactly call the police since she has just murdered her husband, so what does she do? She locks the doors and attempts to keep the intruder outside in the snow until she can hide the body of her former lover. The plan goes well, until her daughter wakes up and realizes that Santa has arrived...

Ironically enough, the first story from this film was also one of the first stories to be adapted for the television series, but I have to admit that I liked the newer rendition of this tale just a little bit more. The basic story is the same here, of course, so all of you who have the first season of the show sitting in your collection will know exactly how this one plays out, but there are a few minor differences towards the end that drag it down a few notches. I won't detail them here in case any of you haven't heard this story (for shame!), and although they are relatively minor, they just didn't compare to the newer telling of the story. However, comparisons aside, I did enjoy this one as a standalone piece. The story is solid and is paced perfectly, and I actually enjoyed the look of the killer here much more than that of the television show. 7/10.

Reflection of Death
The next tale finds a man kissing his wife and kids goodbye as he leaves for a business trip, but unbeknownst to them, he's been lying to them: he's not leaving for work, he's running away with his mistress. They get into a car accident as they're driving down the highway, and from there, strange things happen.

Clocking in at about ten minutes long, this is the shortest of the stories contained within the film, and it's also by far the worst of the bunch. The problem with this one is simple: it's all buildup and no payoff. After the accident, we quickly realize that something isn't quite right with the leading man, and we then spend most of the running time wondering what's wrong while watching him scare person after person away. Then, the payoff comes, and... it's pathetic, to be blunt. The makeup effects used here were horrible, but that's not the main problem as even a flawless makeup job couldn't have saved this one. Again, it's all buildup and no payoff, and that forces me to give it a 1/10 - yes, it was that bad.

Poetic Justice
The third story introduces us to Mr. Grimsdyke (Peter Cushing), an eccentric old man who owns a bunch of loud dogs, loves to play with the local children, and who also digs through the trash to find toys to repair. A bit odd, perhaps, but he is a nice fellow overall; however, his neighbor doesn't see things that way, as he thinks that Grimsdyke's mere presence in the neighborhood lowers property values. So, this cruel neighbor devises a plot to rid the neighborhood of the old man, but when things go a little too far, Grimsdyke winds up dead and seeking revenge... and yes, in that order.

This was my favorite of the five tales found here, but not by much as the next story was pretty damned good as well. What really seals the deal on this one is Peter Cushing's performance as the kooky old man, as he really makes us care for and sympathize with the character. I didn't catch the name of his neighbor, but that guy also played the asshole villain role to perfection, and when the final payoff came at the end... well, it was a great visual by itself, but it was also a perfect ending in terms of the storyline as well. 9/10.

Wish You Were Here
In this version of The Monkey's Paw, a man finds himself in extreme debt and faced with the decision to either declare bankruptcy or sell some of his most prized possessions. He's "saved", however, when he and his wife discover that an old statue that they picked up in Hong Kong will actually grant each of its owners three wishes. The first wish is for "lots and lots of money" (naturally), but we all know how well that worked out for those folks in the aforementioned Monkey's Paw: disastrously. It's not exactly a golden goose here, either, and the second and third wishes turn out to be just as bad.

Again, we all know how things turned out in The Monkey's Paw, and although it should come as no surprise that someone winds up dead in this episode to "supply" the money to those who wished for it, it's the second and third wishes that make this one work so well. Yes, the premise and the first wish mirror the original story, but from there, all bets are off as the filmmaker takes us in a completely different (and gorier) direction that makes this one a sight to behold. This was by far one of the best tellings of the story that I've seen on film, and for that, I'm going with an 8/10.

Blind Alleys
The final tale takes place in a home for the blind, and as we kick off the story, we discover that the former director has quit and a new one (Nigel Patrick) has taken his place. We also discover that the new guy is extremely cruel: he deprives the people living there of heat during the winter and forces them to eat slop while he lives the high life and eats steak dinners courtesy of the house's budget. This doesn't sit too well with the people living there, and after one of them winds up dead thanks to the director's neglect, the unofficial leader of the group (Patrick Magee) devises a plan to dole out some razor-sharp justice.

Here we have another story that was adapted for the television series (as Revenge Is the Nuts during the sixth season), but unlike the first story, I have to say that I enjoyed this one more than the newer telling of it. Nigel Patrick and Patrick Magee are both excellent in their roles as the lead antagonist and protagonist, the silly little additions that were made for the television show (the female patient and the assistant) were nowhere to be found in here, and the final twist... well, the final twist is the same here, but it's done a whole hell of a lot better. Another excellent story, and a nice way to wrap up the tales. 8/10.

Overall, we've got four strong entries and one weak one. That averages out to a 6.6/10, but I think I'm going to have to tack on a point due to the fact that those four stories more than made up for the trash that was the one weak link in the film. So, final rating: 7.6/10.
Tristan #1: Tristan - added 10/10/2007, 08:16 PM
Any movie with Peter Cushing gives me a rod. This was no exception. 7/10
Tristan #2: Tristan - added 01/20/2008, 03:43 PM
Saw this again for the first time in years. I found the first two stories to be awful, the second to be fantastic, the fourth was again, awful, and the fifth was the best of the bunch. My 7/10 still stands, because Peter Cushing and Patrick Magee were fantastic, and the stories I did enjoy were really damn good.
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