From Beyond the Grave (1974)
Stars: Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasence, Angela Pleasence, Ian Bannen, Diana Dors, David Warner, Ian Ogilvy, Margaret Leighton
Directed by Kevin Conner
This is without a doubt my favorite Amicus Films anthology film. Released in 1974, this is the first horror film I ever went to see in theaters without my parents. I wanted to go see The Exorcist, but they said no, they wouldn’t let me to see it. So they let me go see this instead (with a friend). It may have been rated- R, but (except for The Exorcist) they didn’t really check ID’s back then. If you showed up with money, you were in. The stories were adaptations from R. Chetwynd-Hayes.
The wrap-around concerns an antique shop, Temptations Limited, with a humble proprietor played by Peter Cushing. We watch as people enter the shop and each one selects an item, and then attempts to rip off the shop owner from his asking price. One changes tags with a cheaper item, another talks him down in price, saying the item is a worthless fake. Each item the customers take home has a wicked curse upon it. I often felt the series, Friday the 13th, which aired in the 1980’s, had more in common with this film than its namesake. Cursed antiquities in a shop is an excellent jumping-off point to tell many different stories.
The Gate Crasher – Edward, played by David Warner purchases an antique mirror for a pittance, claiming it was worthless. He mounts it in his apartment and everything is fine until one night when he and his friends decide to hold a séance. A spirit is trapped within the mirror and needs Edward to kill in order for him to regain his energies and escape the reflective glass.
An Act of Kindness – Christopher Lowe is treated poorly by his wife and his young son has no respect for him. He stops and talks to a street vendor everyday and learns the man is a veteran. Christopher claims he is a veteran too, bragging to the man about a medal he had received. The next day he goes into the antiques shop and procures a medal, so he can show the veteran. The man invites Christopher to dinner and to meet his daughter, who is a witch. The witch kills the wife and to take her place as spouse and mother, but not for long. However, Christopher also meets his untimely demise. Stars Donald Pleasance and his daughter, Angela Pleasance, who looks exactly like her father. Despite the more intricate story, this is my least favorite of the segments found here.
The Elemental – Reggie purchases a small pill case from the shop but also inherits a small but nasty demonic entity. On the train ride home, a psychic spiritualist, Madame Orloff, tells him about the elemental and hands him a business card to call if there’s trouble. It isn’t long before he is forced to admit something is afoot and calls her in to cleanse the home. The cleansing is very comical with Madame Orloff exorcising the entity, squeezing Reggie’s face, screaming and yelling, as the home is wrecked in the process. Reggie’s wife cringes on the couch as paintings and knick-knacks fly, couch pillows are relieved of their feathers and winds blow through the home like a bad winter storm. The psychic claims the entity is gone, but is it?
The Door – Finally, my favorite story of the bunch concerns a wood carved door from ancient times. A young man, William, purchases the door and installs it for a closet, more as ornamentation for the room than necessity. His wife Rose finds it rather displeasing. Working late one night in the den, William sees the door open. What lies behind it is a secret blue room from the 16th Century. He enters the room and reads a journal upon a desk. He discovers the door was owned by occultist, Sir Michael Sinclair, who created the door so he would be able to walk amongst future times and live forever by capturing the souls of others. There are some creepy and suspenseful scenes in this segment as William hears footsteps approaching and each time he enters the room, the footsteps get closer to the blue room. Eventually Sir Michael kidnaps Rose and the couple has to battle him for their very souls.
This is one of the few Amicus Films that still bears some relatively creepy scenes that haven’t completely lost their impact over time with me, most notably in The Gate Keeper and The Door segments. After seeing this as a youngster, I remember having to make sure the closet door in my room was securely closed and feeling the urge to cover my mirror with a pillowcase. It doesn’t have the same effect now, but it still remains my favorite Amicus anthology.
This review is part of a series I am doing to review all the Amicus Anthologies and horror films.
You can check out all the reviews from links at this page:
Amicus Films – overview