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John’s Horror Corner: Tales from the Crypt (1972), a truly classic horror anthology.

June 4, 2015

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MY CALL: An excellent and classic anthology featuring some familiar tales.  OTHER HORROR ANTHOLOGIES:  Some other fun, decent and/or clever anthologies include (in order of release date):  Black Sabbath (1963), The Vault of Horror (1973), The Uncanny (1977), Creepshow (1982), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye (1985), Creepshow 2 (1987), Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990), Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993), Campfire Tales (1997), 3 Extremes (2004), Trick ‘r Treat (2007), Chillerama (2011), Little Deaths (2011), V/H/S (2012), The Theater Bizarre (2012), The ABCs of Death (2013), V/H/S 2 (2013), The Profane Exhibit (2013) and The ABCs of Death 2 (2014).

Based on comic book stories Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror, this British anthology begins as five strangers on a catacombs tour who end up trapped with a robed monk who reveals the dark secrets of why each of them is there.  This “crypt keeper” (Ralph Richardson; Time Bandits, Rollerball, Dragonslayer) seems all too knowledgeable about their sins and reveals how they all came to be here today.

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The stories involve crazed madmen, zombies in various forms, prophetic dreams, twisted wishes and some very, very angry blind men.  Perhaps due to the dated style, these horror stories will bring you no sense of horror today.  They will, however, make you smile as they are nice little horror stories whose concepts have been used over and over again in past decades.  Think of them more as campfire stories than facets of a horror film.

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There are five short stories, one for each stranger in the crypt…

And All Through the House stars Joan Collins (Empire of the Ants) a trophy wife who murders her considerably older husband on Christmas Eve to make herself a rich widow.  While this may sound evil enough already, she executes her plan with her daughter asleep (or is she?) upstairs.  That same evening we hear radio announcements of a recently escaped psychopath wearing a Santa Claus suit…and all get what they deserve.

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This short story is an absolute delight in its simplicity and it has been retold on Tales from the Crypt, season 1, episode 2 (1989) and then replayed by Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984).

Reflection of Death changes pace for the worst with a less engaging tale of a man sneaking away to leave his wife and family for his mistress.  The man awakens from a bad dream revealing his future (much as with a “ghost of Christmas future”) only to relive it.  A clever idea at the time (over 40 years ago), but now a trope too played out to hold up.

Poetic Justice finds Peter Cushing (Horror of Dracula, The Mummy, The Curse of Frankenstein) as the elderly Arthur Grimsdyke, the kindest widower living only for his dogs and the local children whom he entertains with homemade toys.  Arthur’s neighbor takes action to part Arthur from the things he loves most along with his formerly saintly reputation and happiness.  This predictably leads to Arthur’s death and revenge.

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Wish You Were Here will feel most familiar, being based on the now-troped-up popular story of the Monkey’s Paw.  In this story a formerly wealthy man finds himself deep in debt and forced to sell his assets.  After breaking the bad news to his wife, she suddenly notices some strange text etched in an antique Asian statuette that offers three wishes to its owner, but offers a warning as well.  Not heeding the warning his wife hastily wishes for riches…only to find grave consequence.  Subsequent and more careful wishes to solve her error only make things worse.

We find more use of the Monkey’s Paw concept in The Monkey’s Paw (2013; which I DO NOT advise watching) and the Wishmaster (1997) movies…among many others.

Blind Alleys is by far my favorite short of the anthology and the one that stuck with me in the 20 years since I first saw this movie.  A selfish (to the point of being cruel—except for when it comes to his dog) retired veteran takes a job as a superintendent of a home for blind men.  As the “officer in charge” he budgets himself steak, brandy and fine art for his office as the elderly blind men freeze through the winter with little meat to warm their plates.  When their requests are not met and a fellow resident dies after succumbing to illness in the cold, the blind seek revenge in a way that just makes my toes curl in delight…a way that makes me think “and this is before the Saw films came out.”

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This is a classic horror anthology not to be missed.  It may not be dripping with gore and the stories may seem simple by today’s standards, but it’s easy to see what makes this a beloved horror classic.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2015 9:12 am

    Great post.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      June 4, 2015 12:15 pm

      Thanks. Truly it’s more a great movie than a great post. I just summarized the stories without spoilers, inserted a couple opinion sentences and images.

Trackbacks

  1. John’s Horror Corner INDEX: a list of all my horror reviews by movie release date | Movies, Films & Flix
  2. John’s Horror Corner: The Vault of Horrors (1973), not quite living up to its Tales from the Crypt prequel, but fun nonetheless. | Movies, Films & Flix
  3. V/H/S Viral (2014), another found footage horror anthology with a couple of cool short stories | Movies, Films & Flix
  4. John’s Horror Corner: Creepshow (1982), a classic, campy, nostalgic horror anthology from Stephen King and George Romero! | Movies, Films & Flix
  5. John’s Horror Corner: A Christmas Horror Story (2015), a holiday anthology complete with zombie elves, evil spirits and Santa fighting Krampus! | Movies, Films & Flix
  6. John’s Horror Corner: Deadtime Stories (1986), a wonderfully campy horror anthology with diverse effects and dark fairy tales. | Movies, Films & Flix
  7. John’s Horror Corner: Southbound (2015), five linked tales form this decent horror anthology with angels of death and the worst broken leg ever. | Movies, Films & Flix
  8. John’s Horror Corner: Holidays (2016), an excellent horror anthology with some shockingly good horror shorts. | Movies, Films & Flix
  9. John’s Horror Corner: The ABCs of Death 2.5 (2016), really not the best horror anthology, with a variety of perverted themes. | Movies, Films & Flix

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