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.
The fourth to be released was "Tales From The Crypt" in 1972, which oddly enough, did actually feature two stories ("Reflection of Death" and "Blind Alleys") that were adapted from the original Tales From The Crypt comic.
A group of tourists are taking a guided tour around some catacombs that contain the bodies of catholic martyrs who died during the reign of Henry VIII. The guide warns the group that the catacombs are dangerous, and they should all remain together, however five group members (Joan Collins , Ian Hendry , David Markham , Robin Phillips and Nigel Patrick ) become separated from the rest when Joanne Clayton (Collins) finds that she has lost her broach, which is quickly found lying on the floor by Carl Maitland (Hendry).
They follow a tunnel, and enter a torchlit room that was previously hidden by a sliding stone door, which is a dead end. As they try to go back the way they came, the door slides shut, and the robed crypt keeper (Ralph Richardson ) says that there is no way out via that door, and they should sit, as they are there for a purpose.
He asks them why they came to the catacombs, and all of them say they don't know exactly why they came, they just felt compelled to in some fashion, he then asks them what their plans are when they eventually leave....
Story #1 "....and All Through The House"
Its Christmas eve in the Clayton household. The house is all trimmed up and full of festive cheer, that is until Joanne (Collins) batters her husband to death with a fire poker.After she gleefully retrieves his expensive life insurance policy documents from the hidden safe, she is stopped in her tracks before she can dispose of the body by the sound of her daughter Carol calling her form her bedroom. Carol asks if Santa has been yet, and she replies in the negative, and tells her to go to sleep otherwise Santa wont come.
Back downstairs she works feverishly to clean up the bloody mess and dispose of the body, stopping only to open her present from her late husband, which contains a broach (the same one she momentarily lost earlier).
The carol singing on the radio is suddenly interrupted by an emergency news announcement saying that a homicidal maniac from the nearby lunatic asylum has escaped, and is suspected to be prowling the area wearing a Santa Claus outfit.
Joanne continues cleaning up the murder scene, while outside, a man wearing a Santa outfit cases the house, Joanne notices him, and makes to call the police, but stops when she realises that if the police come, they will find her husbands corpse and know she killed him, so instead she locks all the doors and windows, just as the leering evil Santa glares at her through the window.
She manages to drag the body through to the cellar and dumps it down the stairs, making it look like her husband fell down them and died in an accident.
Just as she is satisfied that she has disposed of all the evidence, she notices that Carols bedroom door is open, and that Carol is out of bed. Carol has sneaked downstairs and let "Santa" in, the maniac then barges in to the house and chases Joanne for a short while before strangling her to death...
Joanne clutches at her throat and vehemently denies she has any intention of killing her husband, to which the crypt keeper coolly replies "hadn't you?".
Next, he asks Carl what he was doing, he replies he was on his way home to see his wife and children, the crypt keeper asks him what he was going to do then....
Story #2 "Reflection Of Death"
Carl Maitland (Hendry) packs his bags and leaves, telling his wife he is going away on business, she asks him if he cant leave it till the morning but he insists he must go now and he doesn't know when he will be back, he then bids his wife and children goodbye.
In reality, Maitland is abandoning his family to run away with his mistress Susan, and has no intention of returning. He goes straight round to her flat, where she has already had all of her furniture taken away in preparation for their escape. They drive away into the night, but Carl is showing signs of tiredness so Susan offers to drive for a while to let him get a bit of sleep.
He wakes from a bad dream, and their car is immediately involved in an accident, Carl blacks out when he hits his head as the car careens off the road and over a cliff.
Waking to find himself thrown clear of the smoking wreck, his immediate first concern is for Susan, but he can find no trace of her anywhere. Seeing that he seems to have been burned, he heads back up to the road way, where he firstly scares a tramp, then he tries unsuccessfully to thumb a lift.
He eventually makes it back home on his own, but is staggered to see his wife embracing another man, when he knocks on the door, his wife answers, then promptly screams and slams the door in his face, he then notices that the name tag under the doorbell reads "Wilson" and not "Maitland".
He makes his way on foot to Susans flat, hoping to get some answers there. When she answers the door, she seems oddly vacant, and doesn't recognise him, he even has to tell her who he is, to which she replies that it cant be Carl. He asks where she has been, and then notices that all her furniture has been brought back to her flat. He demands to know what is going on, but Susan begs him to go away. After he turns on the lights, he notices Susan is holding a white cane, and she says that she had the furniture brought back after the crash, when she was blinded, and when Carl was killed, two years ago.
Carl is outraged and says he doesn't believe it, but when he sees his reflection in the glass topped table, he finds himself looking into his own rotting corpse face..he screams.. and wakes up in the car from having a bad dream, the car is immediately involved in an accident, Carl blacks out when he hits his head as the car careens off the road and over a cliff..........
Carl looks both guilty and confused, and the crypt keeper asks him if that is why he is in such a hurry, he wants to abandon his wife and children. Carl denies he is going to do that, and asks how the crypt keeper knows, but he once again assures them he has a purpose.
James Elliot (Phillips) asks the crypt keeper what sort of game he is playing, and what he wants of them. The crypt keeper merely says that he wants to show them something that they will learn from, and something they must know, James says he doesn't want to, but is told he must....
Story #3 "Poetic Justice"
Arthur Grimsdyke (Peter Cushing ) is a kindly old man who lives alone save for his beloved pet dogs. He enjoys entertaining the local children in his home, and the local children love to hear his stories and like the toys he gives them that he has repaired after finding them at his job as a bin man for the local council.
Edward Elliot and his son James live over the road from Mr. Grimsdyke, and both of them dislike him intensely, simply because they want to buy his house to sell on to make money from their property development business. Mr. Grimsdyke flatly refuses to sell, and says that he wants to remain in the house he and his late wife shared until the day he dies. James, being more mean spirited and ruthless than his father, hatches a plan to force Mr. Grimsdyke to sell them his house for a knock down price.
That night, James digs up one of their neighbours prized rose gardens, which immediately gets blamed on Mr. Grimsdykes dogs, resulting in them being confiscated by the police, despite Mr. Grimsdykes pleadings, which fall on deaf ears.
Mr Grimsdyke uses a ouija board to communicate with the spirit of his late wife, which spells out the word "DANGER", leaving him confused as to who the danger is to, he assumes it means one of the children.
The next part of James plan sees Mr. Grimsdyke being sacked from his job by using their connections with their local councillor to imply that he is too old and infirm to carry on his job, and that they can simply get a younger man in to do the job cheaper. The councillor says that if they do sack him, he will lose his pension, but agrees to get rid of him regardless when James points out that it will save the council a large amount of money.
Mr Grimsdyke is overjoyed when one of his dogs returns to him, but this annoys James even more, so he further twists the knife by inviting the local childrens parents round and casually suggesting to them that Mr. Grimsdyke is a child molester and that his house is filthy and unkempt, the immediate consequence of which is that all the children are banned from seeing or indeed having anything to do with the man they saw as a grandfartherly figure.
James surmises that all they need is one more thing to make Mr Grimsdyke lose all hope and sell up to them, and with valentines day coming up, he has just the thing.
On valentines day, Mr. Grimsdyke receives a large stack of mail, all of which are valentines cards. He assumes that people are being kind to him, but is saddened that when he opens them up, all the cards contain horrible verses, suggesting that everyone hates him and that he should kill himself. Mr Grimsdyke finally breaks down crying.
A week passes, and Grimsdykes dog has been howling for days on end, which annoys both James and Edward, however Edward notes that he has not seen Mr. Grimdyke since valentines day. The rush over to his house to see if he is alright, and find the door open. Once inside, they note that the house is clean and spotless, unlike the rumours they had been spreading about the old man. They hear a creaking noise coming from the back room, and James finds that Mr. Grimsdyke has hung himself.
At the funeral, it is revealed that Edward paid for it all, but both he and James look guilty as people say nice things about the late Mr. Grimsdyke.
A year passes, and James finds some leftover valentines cards in his desk drawer, which he immediately burns. Edward asks what he is doing, and James says that it is a year since Mr. Grimsdyke killed himself, which both of them still very obviously feel guilty about.
At the graveyard, Mr. Grimsdykes corpse rises out of the ground, and makes its way to the Elliot house, where it creeps up and surprises James as he works late into the night.
The next morning, Edward comes downstairs and finds James slumped over his desk. He assumes he is simply asleep until he sees copious amounts of blood splattered around and a note written in blood on the desk.
The note reads "Happy Valentines day!, You were mean and cruel, right from the start, now you really have no..." He then cries out in horror as James' still beating heart plops out when he unfolds the paper further.....
James admits the whole thing is true, he didn't like Mr. Grimsdyke, but makes no apology for what happened.
Ralph Jason (Richard Greene) asks what he is doing there....
Story #4 "..Wish you were here"
Ralph Jason is a greedy and ruthless businessman, who after a series of bad investments finds himself on the verge of bankruptcy. He elects not to declare bankrupt and instead tells his wife they are going to have to sell some of their collection of art treasures form around the world to pay off the money he owes. She says she doesnt want to, but understands the need to, and she points out that a chinese statuette that they have says on its base that it will grant three wishes to whomever owns it, but to be careful what one wishes for.
Jason laughs off the fantastic notion, but his wife, saying that it cant hurt, grasps the statue and wishes for lots and lots of money. Just then, Ralphs solicitor calls and says that Ralph has inherited a ton of money from somewhere, and he needs to see him right away. Ralph speeds off in his car immediately, but is followed by a man in black riding a motorbike. As the biker gets closer, Ralph notices in his rear view mirror that the biker is actually death himself, and the shock causes a road accident, in which Ralph is killed.
the solicitor, a man named Charles, is the first to break the bad news to Ralphs wife, she becomes hysterical and tells Charles about the magic statue, he doesnt believe a word of it, but she insists on making another wish. She wishes that Ralph were back here with her right now, exactly as he was just before the accident.
Their front door swings open, and a team of undertakers fetch in Ralphs body in a coffin, and explains that it wasn't the car accident that killed him, it was a heart attack, so he is still dead, even though she got her wish for him to be there with her exactly as he was before the accident.
They crack open the coffin and find Ralph embalmed inside it, Charles leaves, but Ralphs wife, thinking she is being clever, uses the last wish to wish for Ralph to be be alive now, full of life, forever. Ralph suddenly comes back to life, but is screaming in agony. Charles rushes back in and seeing the reanimated Ralph, he realises that the body has been embalmed, and that the formaldehyde inside him would be causing Ralph untold agony, and would continue to do so forever, being as that his wife wished for him never to die again.
Ralph pleads with his wife to do something, so she grabs one of the antique swords mounted on the wall and proceeds to try and kill Ralph with it, but only succeeds in chopping his now immortal body up into pieces.
Charles points out that because of his wifes wish, Ralph will be alive and suffeirng forever....
Major William Rogers (Nigel Patrick) demands to know what people are seeing, but the crypt keeper says he only needs to be concerned about what he will see........
Story #5 "Blind Alleys"
Rogers has been appointed to the position of superintendent of a care home for elderly blind men. Right from the moment he walks in with his beloved pet Belgian Shepard dog, it becomes obvious that he cares little for the welfare of the residents or the staff in the home.
In order to save money, and thus provide himself with a large income and luxurious living conditions, he makes several harsh cutbacks. the homes heating system is hardly used, even in winter, and the residents food is reduced to being little more than cheap and tasteless slops.
One of the residents, Carter (Patrick Magee ) becomes the spokesman for the residents. He pleads with Rogers to turn the heating on, or at least provide them with warm blankets, explaining that blind peoples other senses are sharpened when they lose their sight, so thus they feel the cold, and taste bad food worse. Rogers is unmoved, and tells Carter that having many years experience as an officer in the army qualifies him to run the place efficiently, and also reminds Carter that "in the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is king!".
Soon enough, the residents begin to fall ill one by one from lack of food and from various cold related illnesses. Carters friend Greenwood is deathly ill, so Carter asks Rogers for a doctor, Rogers doesn't see the point but agrees to take a look for himself, but by the time they get there, Greenwood has died.
The residents, led by Carter, begin to plot revenge. Using leftover food scraps, they lure Rogers dog into the cellar and lock it in a room, then they ambush rogers himself and lock him down there in the room next to where they are keeping the dog.
Days pass, and save for Carters occasional taunts through the door, and the incessant barking of the starving dog, all Rogers hears is the sounds of the residents building something from the wood scraps kept down there.
Eventually, the door to Rogers cell swings open, and Rogers emerges to see that the residents have built some king of maze. He follows the path, which seems to lead to an open door, but just as he reaches it, it slams shut in his face. he notices the stairs lit up and heads towards them, but finds his path blocked by a wire fence. He continues following the path as best as he can in the dim light, and finds that his only way forward is to squeeze through a section of the maze where the wall is studded with razor blades. He makes it through with a few wounds but otherwise unharmed, but he finds himself at a dead end. Suddenly, a door in front of him swings open, and his beloved dog, who has gone mad from starvation, flies out and runs towards him growling and slavering at the mouth, Rogers turns to run, but remembers the way back is through the razor blades, which he cant possibly get through quick enough, he hesitates for a second, and Carter throws a light switch, plunging the cellar into total darkness. Roger screams as the dog tears him to shreds.
Rogers, unimpressed, demands to know why they are being held up, as he is on his way to a new job. The crypt keeper tells them all they are now free to go, and a stone door slides open, revealing a bright light beyond. Ralph rushes to the exit, but stops when he sees that they aren't where they think the are. he asks what this place is, and the crypt keeper explains that beyond the door lies a place where people go who have died unrepentant of their misdeeds in life, he wasn't warning them after all, he was merely showing them the reason why they have been damned to hell for all eternity.
Ralph falls screaming from the precipice into the lake of fire below, and the others, realising there is nothing they can do, silently file through and drop into the pit of hell.
His job done, the crypt keeper returns to his throne, and asks "who is next?", before turning to the audience and saying "perhaps..you?".....