Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Amicus Horror Anthologies - From Beyond The Grave (1974)

During the 60s and 70s, British film makers Amicus productions made a series of films containing several short horror stories, linked by a framing story.
Starring many big names (for the time), these low/medium budget films told several stories mainly concerning ghosts and the supernatural in a typically British way, and usually featured some sort of twist ending.

From Beyond the Grave was the penultimate film in this series, which was release din late 1974.

Framing Story
"Temptations Ltd" is a poky little backstreet curiosity shop in which the owner, Peter Cushing ,claims to make customers "Offers they cannot resist"..... 

Story #1 "The Gatecrasher"
Eddie Charlton (David Warner ) enters the shop and spies an antique mirror that tickles his fancy. The owner says the price for it is £250, but Eddie lies and says that he is an antiques dealer and can recognise a modern reproduction when he sees one, and offers £25, which the owner reluctantly accepts.
Eddie hangs the new mirror in pride of place in his home, and loudly boasts to his friends about swindling the old man. One of his friends suggests that the mirror looks like it belongs in a mediums parlour, and the should hold a seance, which Eddie says ia a marvellous idea.
During the seance, a couple of weird things happen, like the candle on the table begins shooting out a long blue flame, but nothing really horrible happens, except to Eddie, who experiences a vision of a bearded man wearing very old style clothing attacking him with a knife in a wood, Eddie comes round screaming as the lights are switched on.
That night, while Eddie is alone, a ghostly voice calls him to the mirror, and when he looks into it, a face appears and demands that he feed it, entranced, Eddie goes out and hires a prostitute, who he brings back to his flat. As she is having a drink, the mirror commands him to kill her, which he does.
Eddie wakes up with a start, thinking it was all just a dream, but then he finds that his clothes and the sofa are covered in blood.
The following night, the mirror demands to be fed again, Eddie tries to refuse, but the mirror uses its power to try and compel him to kill one of his friends, he refuses to do this and silently agrees to kill someone else. He asks it how many more it wants dead, and it simply answers that it will keep asking until it is "fulfilled".
Eddie picks up a woman in a bar and kills her in front of the mirror, he demands to know why the mirror wants him to kill, and it tells him that long ago he gave his sacrifices, and now it is his turn to give his. Eddie wakes up again and finds himself covered in blood, but this time he is looking very ill. as the mirror is telling him it will soon be time for him to stop the killing, he smashes it. His telephone rings and his frind asks him if he is ok, he says he is, but then when he looks up, he sees that the mirror has repaired itself, and it demands that he kill his friend again, this time, Eddie is in no shape to resist, so he invites her over.
When she comes, Eddie refuses to answer the door, but the mirror commands him to, he tries to refuse, as he likes this girl, so the mirror tells him to find someone else for him. Eddie tells her to go home.
Downstairs, Eddies neighbour, Mr. Jefferies, is reading a bedtime story to his cat when blood starts dripping from the ceiling. He goes upstairs and complains about the noise and the mess Eddie has been making over the past few days, but Eddie slams the door in his face and checks the bodies he has hidden under the floorboards. Mr. Jefferies hammers on the door so Eddie lets him in, then kills him.
The ghost in the mirror manifests itself in physical form, and explain that now it has been fed enough, but one more sacrifice must be made so he can be truly free to join the other immortals. He takes Eddies knife, and asks him to throw himself on it, which Eddie does without hesitation, killing himself in the process.

Years pass and the mirror sits on the wall while the flat has many different tenants, until one day, a young couple are having a party, and one young woman suggests that the mirror looks like it belongs in a mediums parlour and that they should hold a seance, the male host says that is a marvellous idea, and a seance is held, during which, Eddies ghostly face appears in the mirror.....

The owner of the shop shakes his head as he watches Eddie walk away with his new mirror, while outside, a shifty looking man hangs around in the street as though he is waiting for something.
Christopher Lowe (Ian Bannen ) walks up and starts looking at some medals the owner has on display, which causes the shifty man to walk off....

Story #2 "An act of Kindness"
Christopher Lowe is a boring man with a boring life. He is stuck in a middle management admin job that he hates, and his wife (Diana Dors ) is constantly nagging at him and belittling him in front of their young son, who also gives him no respect. One day while on his way home from work, he buys a pair of shoelaces from a peddler (Donald Pleasence ) after seeing him displaying a sign saying he is an ex-serviceman who fought in World War 2. Over dinner, his wife gives him a taste of her sharp tongue, saying that when she first met him he was a Sergeant in the army pay corps with a soft job and a civilian future, but now he is a boring little man with a crap job who doesnt earn much money. This causes Lowe to storm out childishly.
The next day, he strikes up a conversation with the peddler, and lies and tells him he was an officer in an infantry regiment, he even goes back to Temptations ltd and steals a distinguished service cross in order to impress the peddler, when the owner notices the medal missing, he simply tuts and says "naughty naughty!" The peddler, being suitably impressed, invites him to his home for a meal and a chat, which he happily accepts just so he can get away from his wife for a while.
At the peddlers home, he introduces himself as "Jim" and his daughter as "Emily" (played by Pleasences real life daughter Angela), and they sit down to have a nice, but somewhat awkward chat, where Emily recites passages from books she has memorised, albeit some rather strange and out of context passages of no relevance to the conversation.
Weeks pass, and Lowe spends more and more time round at Jims house, lying and saying he is working overtime whenever she asks where he has got to. He gives Emily a gift of a fake gold watch, which pleases her immensely, and admits that he is unhappy with his wife, as she spends most of her time playing bingo and gossiping with her friends instead of doing her wifely duties.
some time later, Emily appears in Lowe and his wifes bedroom as they are sleeping, and, while wearing a black veil, she produces a knife and makes as though she is going to stab the wife, but she wakes up screaming and says she has had  abad dream, Emily is nowhere to be seen.
Lowe is having dinner with Jim and emily one night when Jim apologises and says he must leave early as he is meeting up with some old friends for a drink, and that Emily should be more than able to entertain him. Lowe is happy at this news as he has secretly fallen for Emilys rather strange beauty and creepy charms. As he eats the meal she has prepared for him, Emily walks around the flat, singing a very strange and discordant song, when he enquires about the song, she begins telling him he is a lonely man, and that his wife is not a wife to him, and that she wishes to serve him, and will do anything he commands her to.
Lowe wakes up in bed after having sex with Emily, he quickly dresses and follows her through to the lounge, where she lights a candle and produces a wax effigy of his wife, made using hair clippings and blood she had secretly gathered from his wife. She holds a knife to the effigies throat and asks Lowe if he wants her to finish it, when he refuses, she explains that every day they are still married his life will become more miserable, as she will not improve with age. Thinking its all just a bit of a game, he orders her to do whatever she wants, so she stabs the figure, causing blood to drip from the figures mouth.
Lowe is horrified and rushes home, to find that his wife is indeed dead, stabbed in the throat by a woman dressed in black. The doorbell rings, and Jim and Emily enter uninvited dressed in wedding garments, Jim salutes Lowe, and a wedding march begins playing.
Emily and Lowe marry, and on their wedding day, they celebrate with champagne, Lowe tells Emily to cut the wedding cake, and she asks if that is an order, to which he jokingly says, yes, she then asks Jim and Lowes son if they order it too, and they both say yes, so she takes a knife, but instead of cutting the cake, she chops down on the groom effigies head. Lowe collapses on to the table, blood gushing from a severe and fatal head wound.
Jim then says to Lowes son that they always answer childrens prayers, in one way or another....

The shop owner stands looking out of his shop window, and notices the shifty man still hanging around outside. The shifty man makes to enter the shop, but turns away as Reggie Warren comes walking down the street and enters the shop.

Story #3 "The Elemental"
Reggie Warren is a somewhat pompous businessman, when he enters the shop and finds it seemingly deserted, he opens one of the cabinets and looks at an antique silver snuff box, quickly replacing it when he sees the price tag of £40. He looks at another that has a price tag of £5, and quickly swaps the two tags over. the shop owner appears and asks if he can help him, to which Warren replies that he is looking for a snuff box, and he has his eye on one in particular (the £40 one). The owner gets the box out of the cabinet and checks the price, which now says £5, so warren agrees to buy it, even managing to get the owner to drop the price to £4. Pleased with his purchase, Warren bids the shop owner good day, and the shop owner says he hopes Warren enjoys snuffing it.
On the train home, Warren is set about by a dotty old woman who tells him he has a nasty looking elemental sat on his shoulder, this particular one is unusual because although it is sexually frustrated and greedy like most elementals, this one is willing to kill to get what it wants. Warren doesnt believe such rubbish, but the woman, who introduces herself as Madam Orloff, "Clarvoyant Extrraordinaire!", insists that he takes her card, as he will more than likely have need of her services soon.
At home, Warren notices that all of a sudden his dog becomes hostile towards him, and, while talking with his wife, she suddenly shouts at him for hitting her, even though he was nowhere near her.
that night in bed, his wife complains that he is holding her hand too tight, and that he needs to cut his nails, even though he isnt touching her, she then begins to choke, as though something is strangling her, which she assumes was him.
Realising they have a serious problem, Warren calls Madam Orloff, and she comes straight away.
Seeing that the elemental has grown, and intends to take over Warrens body, Madam Orloff says they will need to exorsize the beast immediately, so, to wit, she gets Warren to sit in a chair and begins chanting various ridiculous verses, which she says may seem unusual but they help her to focus her psychic powers.
As the exorsism goes on, the house erupts into chaos, with winds randomly blowing through the doors and windows and things moving and exploding all around them. Mid way through the exorsism, Madam Orloff requests a glass of whisky, and while his wife fetches it, she gives him a warning that his wife is the sort of person who will attract evil spirits like a magnet. The exorsism is eventually successful and the elemental leaves Warrens body, so madam Orloff leaves after being in the house for less than 10 minutes and demanding an enormous fee for it, but nontheless Warren says he feels much better.
After tidying the house up, and the dog returning to them, Warren and his wife settle down for a celebratory drink, but are disturbed by an ominous banging sound from upstairs, which puts the willies up both of them.
As he goes to investigate the sounds, a strange wind knocks Reggie down the stairs, causing him to black out.
When he comes to, he finds his wife standing over him glaring, he asks if she is alright, and she says, in a deep and other worldly sounding voice that he "denied her life", before she beats him to death with the fire poker and then leaves the house laughing.

The shop owner lights his pipe, and notices the shifty man still hanging around outside, this time, the man is looking extra fidgety, and fiddles with an iron bar that he has tucked up his sleeve. As he crosses the road to enter the shop, he bumps into Will Seaton (Ian Ogilvy ) as he too makes his way into the shop. The shifty man quickly runs away....

Story #4 "The Door"
Will tells the shop owner he has his eye on an antique door that he has in, and the owner explains that it is a very old antique that he rescued form an old house that was being demolished. He tells him the price for the door is £50, but Will says all he can afford is £40, the shop owner agrees to sell it him and takes his name and address, before putting the money in the till, which he leaves open, displaying that it is full of cash, while he goes through the back to get Bill a receipt. As Will leaves the store, The owner begins to slowly count the money in the till.
The door is delivered to Wills house, where he tells his wife he intends to redecorate his study and replace the door to the stationary cupboard with the antique one he bought, his wife wonders what such a grand old thing would have been the door to, which she eventually speculates that it was a big old fashioned room, which was all painted blue.
The door is put in place, and while admiring it, Will notices that the door appears to have blood stains on it, but it soon comes off when he cleans it.
That night, Will feels the sudden urge to walk up and open the door, which when he does, is surprised to see that instead of being his stationary cupboard beyond it, there is a grand old fashioned blue room.
He enters and explores the room, finding firstly a painting on the wall depicting a man wearing what appears to be a civil war era cavalier costume, and secondly what appears to be a large leather bound journal of some kind. He is about to read from the book, when he is scared off by the sound of approaching footsteps from one of the rooms internal doors. He leaves quickly and slams the door behind him, but then when he reopens it, he finds his stationary cupboard has reappeared.
His wife says he is mad when he tells her about it, but that night while Will is working, the door opens by itself, once again leading to the blue room, this time, he makes straight for the book and begins reading.
The book is entitled "An experiment in darkness" by "Sir Michael Sinclair".
From reading the book, Will finds that the room was created using evil magic by Sir Michael Sinclair in 1683, a time when if anyone of the lower classes was caught using or even speaking about magic, they would be burned at the stake for witchcraft, but he, as a nobleman and friend of the king, was immune to such punishment. The book goes on to explain that the room, and thus Sinclair himself, will exist forever, so long as the spell which keeps the room in existence is maintained by offering a blood sacrifice every so often to the door, which Sinclair prefers to be a woman, as their life essence is more potent.
Will flees when he hears Sinclair approach, but runs into his wife, who has come to see what is going on. Sinclair himself emerges from the doorway and grabs the woman, challenging Will to follow him, as "two souls are better than one". Will grabs an axe and begins smashing the door with it, each stroke causing Sinclair pain and the room to be damaged in some way. When Sinclair appears incapacitated, Will rushes in to rescue his wife, but Sinclair stops him and wrestles him to the ground. Will tells his wife to use the axe to break the door, which she does, eventually causing Sinclair himself to collapse. Will grabs the axe and smashes the door off its hinges, which causes the room beyond to totally collapse, and Sinclair to rot away to dust.

At the shop, the owner finishes counting the money in the till, and is happy that Will didnt steal any after all.
The shifty man finally enters the shop, closing the door queity as he does, and he finds the owner loading a pair of flintlock pistols with live ammunition. The owner asks him to hold one of the pistols while he loads the other, but once it is loaded, the shifty man grabs it and demands the owner hand over all of his money. The owner refuses to co operate and begins advancing on the would be robber meanacingly, so he opens fire, but none of his shots cause the owner any harm. Backing off in terror, the shifty man falls into an iron maiden which closes in on top of him. the shop owner then sits down on top of it and calmly lights his pipe and says 2the love of money is the root of all evil". The shop door opens, and the owner welcomes the new customers, saying that he has something for everyone, but, theres a free novelty surprise with every purchase........


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