Hammer Horror Remembered

I’ve been searching Amazon.com for books on Hammer Studios for quite some time. The books that have popped up in the past have always been tragically too pricey for me to pull the trigger on. And then, just last Saturday, this one showed up.
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Hammer Horror Remembered is a self-published ebook (much like, oh, Anesthetized or The House of Thirteen Doors). The author, Alan Toner, lives in England and so is a little closer to the source of all the Hammer goodness than we colonials are. From that authoritative vantage point, Toner gives us a quick read that consists of mostly short chapters on various Hammer horror topics. Some chapters focus on actors, others on series, and other on individual films. My favorite was the chapter on Brides of Dracula, which I’ve always seen as special among the Hammer Dracula series because A) Dracula isn’t in it and B) I had a hard time finding it. Overall, the book does what books like this should do: it not only gives you some information and discussion on movies you love, but enables you to mentally experience those movies again. I highly recommend it to all Hammer horror fans (which I imagined is most of us). You can get it at Amazon.com and other online ebook vendors for a reasonable 99 cents.

From Beyond the Grave

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Year: 1973
Director: Kevin Connor
Writers: Raymond Christodoulou, Robin Clarke
Starring: Peter Cushing, David Warner, Ian Bannen, Donald Pleasence, Angela Pleasence, Ian Carmichael, Margaret Leighton, Nyree Dawn Porter, Ian Ogilvy, Lesley-Anne Down

Favorite Quote: “A new customer, come in…I’m sure I have the very thing to tempt you. Lots of bargains, all tastes catered for…oh, and a big novelty surprise with every purchase. Do come in…any time, I’m always open…”

Wait for it, wait for it…yes, we have yet another Amicus produced horror anthology film to review. Luckily it doesn’t have the painful viewing experience as the previous Torture Garden. Plus you can never really go wrong when David Warner is in your cast, right? What? I mean he was Sark in Tron, Keith Jennings in the original Omen, and Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. He was in Beastmaster: The Eye of Braxus as well? Well…I’m sure he was really good in it, right? Right?

As we begin the film we see rows upon rows of crypts (I’m sure this is actually left over footage from the Tales From the Crypt intro) and tombstones before a sign comes into view that reads ‘All Hallows in the Fields’, it turns out to be a church sign and as the camera pans to the left we see we are in front of an antiques store with a hanging sign above the shop window, “Temptations Ltd.”. We are introduced to Edward Charlton (Warner) as he wanders by the storefront window, he pauses and gingerly enters the old shop which we can see is filled with all manner of items from mannequins, stuffed animals, puppets, musical instruments, etc. As Charlton looks over the items for sale he is being watched rather shrewdly by the pipe smoking proprietor (Cushing) of the store, this is a man that can tell the cut of his customer as soon as they enter his shop. Charlton has taken a fancy to an antique mirror, the proprietor gives him the price of 250 pounds but the younger man all but laughs, citing the mirror is no antique and he will give him 25 quid to just take it off the proprietor’s hands. A deal is made…

…and then we see Charlton hosting a dinner party in his flat and boasting of how the ‘old fool’ believed him about the mirror not being an antique. One of his guests declares she gets a very bad vibe off the mirror and the next instant another guest is crying for the group to hold a seance. Charlton jovially calls for the table to be cleared and brought into the next room for he will be the mouthpiece for contacting the spirit world. A single candle provides the only illumination in the room and as Charlton begins to try to speak to the dead, the candle begins to raise brightly and change to a blue hue, the mirror on the wall becomes opaque as smoke obscures the reflection, and the young man suddenly finds himself standing on a path at night with a full moon high in the night sky as a cloaked stranger walks towards him. As he gets nearer we can see the stranger is a pale and bearded man, when he is next to Charlton he opens the cloak to reveal he has multiple knives and daggers tucked in his belt. He withdraws one and stabs downward at the young man who screams and awakes sitting at the table with his guests, no one else experienced what he did, he would appear to be the only one to make contact with the spirit in the mirror. That night after his guests have left for the evening Charlton rests uneasily, the mirror once again begins to cloud over and the young man awakes with a startle, the stranger appears in the mirror and commands him to approach. As Charlton stares at the mirror’s spectral image in horror he is told by that he must feed it. Charlton appears to be a trance like state as he goes out in the night, bringing home a prostitute and as he stands before the woman, the specter commands him to kill her. Why does the specter need the blood of victims? We end the spoilers for this tale here.

At the antique shop we meet Christopher Lowe (Bannen) as he stops to eye the front window where the proprietor has placed some military medals. We learn that Lowe served as a sergeant in the military but has now become to feel he is trapped in a loveless marriage with a shrew of a wife and a disrespectful son. He happens to come across a decorated soldier, Jim Underwood (Pleasence) down on his luck who is surviving by selling shoe strings, pencils, dice, etc. The two strike up a friendship and in an effort to impress Underwood, Lowe enters the shop to purchase a Distinguished Service Order but is of course asked by the proprietor if has the documentation to prove he had been bestowed the honor. Lowe tries to assure the older man with promises of bringing it in later but the proprietor can allow him to leave with it until he see the proof, he promises to hold it for Lowe and places it in a glass case. The two men say their good days to each other but as the proprietor leaves the room, Lowe quickly runs in and snatches the medal before leaving the shop. The Proprietor notices this and shakes his head sadly while commenting, “Naughty. Shouldn’t have done that.” We next see Lowe showing the medal off to Underwood, beaming as he comments he thought the older soldier would like to see ‘his’ medal. Underwood has grown fond of Lowe and it is obvious the younger man feels the same, the older man invites him to come have a cup of tea and some of his daughter, Emily’s (Pleasence, really the daughter of Donald, from his first marriage.) homemade cake. All three get along swimmingly and soon Lowe is spending his evenings chatting and laughing almost every night, he tells his wife and son that he is working overtime to explain his absences. Lowe’s wife at this time starts to have nightmares about a young woman dressed in black that appears at her bedside to kill her, another day we see a woman’s hand reach out to snip some of his wife’s hair while she and her son ride the bus. Who is this woman and why is she menacing Lowe’s wife? We end the spoilers for this story here.

In the antique shop we are introduced to Reggie Warren (Carmichael) as he switches the price tags on two snuff boxes. The proprietor notices the price change but rings up the lower price none the less and adds as the man leaves, “I hope you enjoy snuffing it.” As Warren heads home on the evening train he is told by Madame Orloff (Leighton), a self-proclaimed psychic that he has an elemental sitting on his left shoulder. Warren blows the woman off but at her cries of warning accepts her business card. Upon returning home Warren is confused as his dog continuously barks before running out of the room in fear. He enters the kitchen complaining of the pet’s behavior to his wife, Susan (Porter), when she asks why he has his left shoulder hunched up, the man rubs his shoulder and when he announces he is going to take a bath his wife cries out and grabs her own shoulder. She accuses him of hitting her in the arm and after squabbling she lowers her sleeve to reveal a large bruise. Later that evening as the two are soundly asleep, Susan awakes in alarm as she is being strangled by an unseen force. Jumping from the bed Warren switches the lights on and once again his wife in fear accuses him of hurting her with his “awful hands like talons”, not sure why she doesn’t notice his hands are immaculately kept but it could be the fact that she get physically ill and has to rush to the bathroom. Warren has now become worried and fishes out Madame Orloff’s business card so he can call her up. Here we end the spoilers.

Within Temptations Ltd. we are introduced to a young man, William Seaton (Oglivy), an author who find his fancy being tickled after browsing the shop and discovering a large old wooden door (By the way I would love to actually own this prop, it is indeed beautiful…assuming of course it doesn’t do anything like in the movie), it bears a carved face on the front of it. The proprietor when asked what used to be behind the door recalls, “A room. Very elaborate in its day, all blue it was.” Seaton is offered a price of 50 pounds but all the young man can give is 40 and he explains that it will leave him flat broke at that. The proprietor accepts the amount and takes Seaton’s address, while writing a receipt he leaves the room and the young man looks longingly at the remainder of his money sitting in the open till. When the proprietor returns he promises to have the door delivered as soon as he can, as Seaton leaves the older man looks down at the open till and begins to count the pound notes. We next see the door being delivered to the young man’s address and we meet his wife, Rosemary (Down), who feels the door is too fancy to lead to a mere stationary cupboard. Seaton asks what she thought was originally behind it and she responds that she doesn’t know but it must have been a big room, a huge old drawing room with a grate fire place and double windows, with an old walled garden beyond. Seaton smiles as he asks Rosemary what the color of the room would have been and she replies, “I think it was…blue. Yes, definitely blue.” Her husband is a little startled by all of this. Later in the evening he is sitting alone and drinking when he looks over his shoulder at the door, there is an eerily blue light upon it the face of it. Opening the door he finds not a cupboard for his writing materials but rather a cobwebbed drawing room with a grate fireplace and double windows. Upon one of the walls is a portrait of a man dressed in blue attire resembling the Renaissance period. Seaton discovers a dusty tome on a large writing desk but before he can open it, from the other side of the room something is shuffling and trying to open a cobwebbed door. Filled with fear the young man rushes out of the room and slams the door to his cupboard shut. What is behind the door is…for you to find out as we end the spoilers here.

There is one other story concerning the little antique shop and its proprietor. In between each of the described tales above we see a street thug casing the shop out, he too has a tale that will be told. But like all the others you shall have to find From Beyond the Grave on DVD or perhaps an online source to find the answers you seek. This film is now where near as good as the Monster Club, Asylum, or Tales From the Crypt but it is still quite entertaining to be sure. Cushing takes a role and does something rather interesting with it…he’s not quite as neutral to the characters as say the Crypt Keeper but he is surely not as threatening as Dr. Diablo. I bestow it a solid three and a half pumpkins out of five.

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Torture Garden

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Year: 1967
Director: Freddie Francis
Writer: Robert Bloch
Starring: Burgess Meredith, Jack Palance, Peter Cushing, Beverly Adams, Barbara Ewing, Michael Bryant, Robert Hutton, Maurice Denham, Clytie Jessop

Favorite Quote: “The secret in fact…of your own evil. A very old-fashioned word nowadays, ‘evil’. You’d prefer I say ‘the primordial monstrosities that lurk beneath the surface of the mind.’ But I prefer ‘evil’.”

We have yet another Amicus produced portmanteau film, another movie directed by Freddie Francis a full five years before he would direct the Tales From the Crypt feature, and for writer Robert Bloch it would be another five years before the classic Asylum with his adaptations of five of his own stories hit the silver screen again. It is always a joy to find a movie on Netflix that you have heard of but haven’t had the pleasure of seeing yet…well, maybe not in this case.

We start the film with a group of people at a busy amusement park, more of a carnival as a sideshow barker promises the viewer that they must step inside and see Dr. Diablo’s (Meredith) famous Torture Garden. Once inside we see the Garden is indeed a sideshow attraction, with a beheading, a ‘demonstration’ of the rack, and the pulling of the switch with a condemned mannequin standing in for a prisoner strapped to an electric chair. Dr. Diablo informs the crowd that while the regular performance has been concluded there is more to come if they merely pay five pounds so that they might be granted access to a private exhibit where the true horror lies. Five of the crowd decide to take him up on his offer and as they pass through the curtain to the backroom, away from prying eyes, Dr. Diablo does a strange thing. He takes the five pound notes and lets them drop into a lit brazier and smiles as they go up in smoke. Behind the curtain, Dr. Diablo does an unnaturally quick costume change as he introduces the customers to who he claims is Atropos (Jessop), one of the Goddesses of Greek Mythology, she decides when to sever the string that measures a person’s life. Dr. Diablo explains that she possesses a special type of magic that will enable the person to see within themselves to see the own evil they are capable of and thereby perhaps avoiding that fate. Calling the first customer up, he commands Collin Williams (Bryant) to stand closer to Atropos, to stare into the large pair of shears she holds her in hand…

We then see Collin as he is driving to his ailing Uncle Roger’s (Denham) home. Parking his car he sees a woman that looks just like Atropos (She makes an appearance in each of the stories), but her image fades to that of his Uncle’s caretaker, Nurse Parker. She informs Collin that his Uncle’s heart is weak and that the end is near, he promises not to tire him, and is told that if there is any change he should get in touch with Dr. Silversmith in the village. As he enters the large home we see that Uncle Roger is indeed in poor condition, pale and wheelchair bound, as the two men talk he confesses the reason he called his Nephew to him was so he could convince him to change his ways in life. We learn that Collin has heard rumors of his Uncle’s home once belonging to a witch, he has found himself in a need of money, and knows from the people in the village that his Uncle only pays for services and items in gold coin. Uncle Roger becomes agitated at the request for money, citing he has none, not even an inheritance for his only living relative to claim. Collin becomes violent and his Uncle begins to suffer a heart attack, his medicine is on the fireplace mantle, but his Nephew refuses until the helpless man gives him the information to the location of the money. Uncle Roger dies as a result of Collin knocking the glass containing the medicine from the old man’s hand, but since the Doctor said a heart attack was very likely to take the Uncle’s life it is ruled as a natural death. Collin stays the night at the home and wastes no time in ransacking the entire place, his efforts bore fruit though as he notices a trap door beneath his Uncle’s bed. Pulling it up he descends the steps to find a basement with loose dirt and a shovel, assuming he has found the site of hidden money he digs until he uncovers an old wooden coffin. Breaking the seal on it he flips the lid up to reveal a skeleton, missing its skull, and a black cat. The feline quickly runs out of the room and an exhausted Collin returns upstairs to fall asleep on a sofa…but he is awakened by a strange noise (It sounds like a cross between a cat yowling and the Martians from George Pal’s War of the Worlds) in his head which we quickly learns is from the cat he freed from its earthen prison. Commanding Collin to follow, the cat shows him where a tramp is sleeping in a shack next to the house, he then directs the young man to pick up a nearby pitchfork and violently impale the tramp to death. Collin suddenly awakes thinking it all merely a dream but notices the trap door is open in his Uncle’s bedroom, going down the stairs once again he finds the cat sitting next to a mound, digging under the mound reveals a heavy chest filled with gold coins! So we must end the spoilers for this story.

The second customer, Carla Hayes is there with her cousin and roommate Dorothy Endicot (Ewing), but she bravely goes first. Staring at the shears we see her in the apartment she shares with Dorothy, her cousin is running to get prepared for her date with a movie producer, Mike Charles, in time. We learn that Carla is from America and is an actress herself and sabotages Dorothy’s chances of going on the date by intentionally burning her dress after promising to iron it. Going on the date herself, Carla, is introduced to famous actor Bruce Benton (Hutton), who for years has had successful movie after successful movie. Benton entertains Carla, who she admits she has had a crush on from when she was a little girl, while his producer friend, Eddie Storm, has a drink with Charles at the bar. We learn that Benton and Storm are part of something called the Top Ten, which Charles wants access to but is told it was voted on already and he cannot be admitted. Charles becomes angry and storms off leaving Carla with Benton and Eddie. Benton asks Storm to allow Carla to shoot some some test shots for a new feature he will begin on Monday. Charles meanwhile is at a dive of a bar drinking his anger away, complaining to the bartender about the Top Ten and that Eddie Storm will be sorry when the drunken producer spills the beans on the ten who are in the select organization. The bartender calls Storm and says he will take care of the problem which he does by driving Charles home, suffocating him, and making it look like he drunkenly expired by running his car with the garage door down. What is the Top Ten of the entertainment industry? We end the spoilers here for this segment of course.

The third customer to step up and stare at Atropos is Dorothy and we find her interviewing world famous pianist, Leo Winston. They are taking a break from the rigors of the long interview when Winston introduces Dorothy to a piano he has called Euterpe, for the Greek Goddess of music. Ignoring the warnings from his manager to stay away from the young woman, as it appears his late nights with her affecting his music, it quickly becomes apparent that the piano, Euterpe, has become jealous (Yes, I just typed that correctly.). We end the spoilers for this short tale here.

The fourth customer, Ronald Wyatt (Palance), is more than willing to stare at the shears, relishing it in fact. We next see Wyatt attending an exhibit of a complete collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s writings from Lancelot Canning (Cushing). Wyatt is particularly attracted to a rare tome, of which we are told that only six remain, and no matter how much he offers to pay Canning he must leave the exhibit empty handed. Partially empty handed actually as Canning appreciates Wyatt’s knowledge of Poe and his works and invites him that when he finds himself in America to look him up so that he might reveals the real jewels of his collection. Wyatt takes him up on that offer a few days later and the two men delight themselves looking over everything from Poe’s necktie from his last lecture, to the flute he played in life. Getting Canning a little drunk, Wyatt is taken downstairs by the greater collector, where he is shocked to find works from the very pen of Poe that have never been seen. Of course here we must end the spoilers for this segment.

But what of the fifth customer and the enigmatic Dr. Diablo? Of course like always you shall need to find the answer to this question yourselves, friends. I was not happy with this film to be quite honest, so many of the stories make no sense, almost as if key scenes are left out, particularly in the first segment. I’m sad to say that even with the greatness of Meredith and Palance I have to bestow two and a half pumpkins out of five to the Torture Garden.

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Tales From The Crypt

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Year: 1972
Director: Freddie Francis
Writer: Milton Subotsky
Starring: Sir Ralph Richardson, Peter Cushing, Joan Collins, Ian Hendry, Geoffery Bayldon, Angela Grant, David Markham, Robin Phillips, Richard Greene, Barbara Murray, Roy Dotrice, Nigel Patrick, Patrick Magee

Favorite Quote: “Who’s next? Perhaps…you?”

We have yet another Amicus produced horror anthology film, this time based on the old EC comics of the same name, though some of these stories have been adapted from its sister periodical, the Vault of Horror. I first caught this movie in my youth on a Saturday matinee on a local television station, I had missed probably a good half of it but many years later in the early 90’s I was able to buy it on VHS and a few years back I added to my collection on DVD. I probably watch this film twice or perhaps three times a year because as I’ve stated before I love anthology entertainment and I’ve never seen an Amicus production that let me down. We shall put that to the test, Netflix has sent me Torture Garden on DVD, I’ll check it out and report what I think in a day or two.

As the film opens we are shown a cemetery while Toccata and Fugue in D minor eerily sets the mood as tombstones give way to rows of Crypts before we see a locked gate, with a hooded monk who we shall later learn is the Crypt Keeper (Richardson). We travel underground into one of the crypts where we meet a guide (Bayldon) calling for some stragglers to keep up as he begins to start his spiel, standing beside a large stone coffin, he explains that during the reign of Henry the 8th those people who were religiously prosecuted for practicing their beliefs found themselves going into hiding and those religious martyrs are the ones that are buried in the catacombs they are about to tour. He cautions they are dangerous and no one should lag behind.

Five of those in the tour are apparently not listening very well as they stay behind while the rest of the group moves forward. We will come to learn they are Joanne Clayton (Collins), Carl Maitland (Hendry), James Elliot (Phillips), Ralph Jason (Greene), and Major William Rogers (Patrick). After Joanne mentions her brooch is missing, luckily its near her feet as Carl stoops to pick it up and hand it to her, the group realizes it has delayed them enough that the rest of the tour are nowhere to be seen. Trying to find their way back to the rest of the tour they follow the catacombs to a dead end, they are about to turn around when the grating of stone upon stone captures their attention. We see a stone door slowly opening revealing an antechamber, the group enter but find there is no other exit and before they can leave the door slams shuts. Suddenly as their attention is on the door from behind them appears the Crypt Keeper, sitting in a throne-like chair with a massive stone skull above him. He has an almost hypnotic effect on the group as he beckons them to sit on the five stone seats before him, which they all do except Carl, explaining they will have their answers in do time, assuring them as well that he has a purpose. The Crypt Keeper begins to question Joanne, “Why did you come here?” She comments that she just saw it while driving by…but then she hesitates as she touches the brooch, the Crypt Keeper continues, “And what are your plans when you leave here?”, the woman repeats the questions and the hooded man fixes her with a bemused but unfriendly stare, “Plans…”

We find ourselves in the Clayton home, it’s Christmas Eve, the tree is bristling with presents beneath its boughs and ‘Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful is on the radio. Mr. Clayton sneaks into the living room with a few new presents, reading aloud from a gift card, “To Joanne, the best wife in the world.” Satisfied with his work he pours himself a drink and takes a seat in his reading chair with the paper, unfortunately Joanne would seem to have her present for Richard already prepared as she sneaks up behind him and bludgeons him with a heavy fire poker. Joanne wishes her deceased husband a Merry Christmas before pulling a keychain from his trousers, unlocking a safe behind a painting in the next room where she withdraws her husband’s life insurance policy. From upstairs we can hear her daughter, Carol, calling for her which causes Joanne to experience some stress since the little girl’s father is still laying dead on the floor in the next room (I’ve luckily never been in such a situation but I can understand how this would cause one to feel agitated.). As Joanne cleans the fire poker her daughter calls for her once again, upon entering her bedroom the child wants to know if Santa Claus has arrived yet. Tucking Carol back into bed, Joanne goes downstairs to deal with the problem of her husband’s corpse. At this point she spots his gift to her and upon opening it reveals a brooch, yes the same one she is wearing during the tour. Joanne finds that her husband has bled out on the white rug and as she begins to drag him out of the living room, a special report breaks in on the radio, “A man described as a homicidal maniac has escaped from the hospital for the criminally insane…”. Here is where end the spoilers for this tale.

The Crypt Keeper next questions Carl, who says that he is on his way home to see his wife and children, the hooded man repeatedly asks, “And then?”. We next see Carl at home, walking down a staircase with two suitcases in his hands, setting them near the front door he looks over, his living room separated by a glass wall, his wife sitting on the sofa is distorted. Carl looks down and seems guilty about something. He speaks to his wife about his pressing business meeting that he’ll have to drive all morning to reach it in time. He runs back upstairs to kiss his two sleeping children on the forehead, one of the children wakes up to say goodnight but Carl responds quite broken up with a good-bye. Promising to phone his wife when he gets to his destination we see Carl arrive a few minutes later at an apartment complex, taking the elevator he approaches a door with a name next to the buzzer that reads Susan Blake (Grant), he pulls out a key and lets himself into the apartment. Susan waits inside with three packed bags of her own and the two embrace, she complains about having to give away her nice furniture but Carl gently reminds her, “Yes, I know that darling, but we’ve both had to give up quite a bit haven’t we?”. As the two drive away in Carl’s vehicle they talk of what they are doing, he seems to be getting a bit too emotional for Susan’s taste, chalking it up to being tired she takes over the driving. As he sleeps we hear him muttering, “No…no…”, as he has a terrible nightmare, so bad that he wakes up shouting it. He apologizes about startling Susan but before she can respond a truck veers into their path, Carl quickly jerks the wheel to the side out of his lover’s hands which causes them to break through a barrier and over to a wooded area below. The car rolls and as Susan screams out in fear, Carl is thrown about the inside of the vehicle until he passes out (Remember to wear your seatbelts kids!). Upon waking, Carl, finds he has been thrown from the wreckage and as we see through his eyes as he stumbles out of the brush…the car had burst into flames, the fires dying already. We see Carl walk towards the vehicle calling Susan’s name but she is not in the car either. So we must end the spoilers for this tale.

We find ourselves back in the antechamber where Carl walks slowly to one of the stone seats, angrily he demands who the robed man is, the Crypt Keeper reminds them he has a purpose to which James add what kind of game is being played here. The robed man questions the comment and James continues, adding that the Crypt Keeper is trying to scare them for some reason (Though if he actually said his name was the Crypt Keeper it probably would have frightened them!) and then asks what he wants with them, the robed man responds, “To show you something…something in your mind, something you are capable of doing.”. James remarks that he doesn’t want to know but the Crypt Keeper insists that he must. We then hear children playing, from within his father’s home James looks out the window to the shabby house across the street with a scowl. Inside said shabby house, Arthur Edward Grimsdyke (Cushing) is entertaining a group of neighborhood children with a puppet show, he ceases the Punch spectacle to give a small wooden duck to one of the children. Some of the children in his home have to leave and we see that he has given them all toys on their way out the door, toys we later learn he has salvaged from the junk piles of the town, cleaned up and restored himself. He is the town’s junkman in trade. Grimsdyke’s wife Helen has passed away (though he contacts her spirit with the aid of a Ouija board we later learn) and the children of the neighborhood and his many, many dogs are the old man’s only joy in life. Which for some reason annoys James and his father, Edward. So much so they make it their duty to take away each of his joys…ruthlessly and without any heart…with some unforeseen consequences. I have to stop the spoilers for this segment here.

We see James awaking as if from a dream, “I don’t like Grimsdyke.”, he mutters. The Crypt Keeper turns his attention to Ralph commenting that he’ll see when asked why the businessman is in attendance. We see Ralph and his lawyer, Charles Gregory (Dotrice), speaking of an urgent matter. Ralph is flat broke and worse he had gambled in a business venture with monies that were entrusted to him. We learn rather quickly from his own mouth that he has been ruthless in his ventures, cruel even but he explains that he had to work his way up, no one would have handed him a fortune. He is less than sorry for his actions. Charles explains that he has two options to avoid the massive debt he owes. He can either file for bankruptcy or begin to sale the many valuable items he and his wife, Enid (Murray) have gathered over their lifetime. Both options are met with scorn but Charles drives home the point that there is simply no other option to be had. Enid is less than pleased when she hears the news but Ralph also mentions they have no other options, looking at a particular Asian piece of artwork, a statue, his wife fondly recalls when they purchased it, “We got it in that strange shop in Hong Kong, when you were selling guns to…” So it would seem that Ralph really is shady businessman. When they purchased it they were told by the shopkeeper, “Use it. Use it wisely.”, and we are soon to learn that the statue grants the bearer three wishes. So end the spoilers for this tale.

As return to the antechamber, Major Rogers grows upset and demands to know what Ralph has ‘seen’. The Crypt Keeper warns that it is more important to the Major what he himself shall see, Rogers takes this less than serious and like the others demands to know what the robed man is wants with them to which he replies, “To warn you of what might happen.” The Major tells the Crypt Keeper he doesn’t want any warning but to leave, and the robed man says he really should heed the warning. We then see the Major driving in his car, behind him in the back seat is his Belgian Malinois (Thank you Wikipedia), Shane, as they arrive at the Elmridge Home for the Blind. Upon exiting his vehicle he is met by an orderly, who is dressed down sharply when he calls the Major simply Mister Rogers. Major Rogers is the new superintendent of the Home and wastes very little time in using his authority to make the patient’s lives miserable, upon their first meeting he treats the patients rigidly as he would soldiers. He cuts their food down to two meals a day, drastically decreasing the quality of the meals as well. Going from mash potatoes and vegetables to a watery soup. Bear in mind that Major Rogers doesn’t hold himself to the same standards as he furnishes his office with paintings and the finest meals. As the winter settles in, the patients are freezing to death, one old worn blanket is allotted to each of them. Finally they ask George Carter (Magee) to speak to Major Rogers, to inform them of their suffering. He is less than accepting of the request to raise the heating explaining, “For reasons of economy the heating is now turned off each evening at twenty hundred hours. You ought to be in bed by then…after all there is no point in staying up, you can’t see anything.” So as we can plainly be seen from the above quote, Major Rogers is an absolute jerk. Conditions continue to worsen for the patients, resulting in pneumonia for one of the men. It is then that the patients decide to…well, end of the spoilers for this tale.

So what happens when we return once again to the antechamber and the Crypt Keeper? You’ll just have to find out for yourself when you put Tales From the Crypt on your Netflix list or possibly find it online. While there are a few parts of the stories that when you look back on it all really don’t make any sense, particularly a moment in the second and fourth tale, it’s never enough to derail the film. Peter Cushing needs to be singled out here with his performance as the sad and lonely, Grimsdyke. A year before this movie debuted he had lost his wife of 28 years, Helen. He is using his pain from her loss in portrayal of the elderly junkman and during this time of his life he commented to a reporter, “Since Helen passed on I can’t find anything; the heart, quite simply, has gone out of everything.” Yet he continued to be a professional, bringing the most to his roles. I would bestow the film with four and a half pumpkins out of five but Cushing’s performance raises it wholly back to five pumpkins out of five.

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