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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VicSage

Editor at Retroist
Searching through the alleys for useful knowledge in the city of Nostalgia. Huge cinema fanatic and sometimes carrier of the flame for the weirding ways of 80s gaming, toys, and television. When his wife lets him he is quite happy sitting in the corner eating buckets of beef jerky.

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