From Beyond the Grave (1974)

Synopsis:

A terrifying encounter with the supernatural is guaranteed to all customers who buy (or steal) items from an old antique store.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“… each purchase comes with a big novelty surprise.”

From Amicus Productions, the legendary British film company that specialized in horror movies, comes this anthology movie that consists of four macabre tales linked by an antique shop, Temptations Ltd., owned by a mysterious elderly man played by none other than horror icon Peter Cushing (The Curse of Frankenstein). Truth be told, it isn’t one of the company’s best anthologies. I loved it nonetheless.

The Gatecrasher

The first story, “The Gatecrasher” (approx. 20 min.), involves a man (David Warner, Time After Time) who tricks the owner of the antique shop into selling him a priceless mirror at a bargain price. The man takes the mirror home only to find out that there is a devilish figure — Jack the Ripper? — inside the mirror that compels him to kill.

It’s always great fun to see underrated British actor Warner go completely insane. Squeamish alert: The killings were particularly nasty — lots of blood and what not. Frankly, there is nothing particularly original about the segment — its twisty ending reminded me of Rod Serling’s old TV show Night Gallery and Steven Spielberg’s 1980s anthology series Amazing Stories — but it’s well done and spooky.

An Act of Kindness

The second tale, “An Act of Kindness” (approx. 25 min.), features an unhappily married office manager (Ian Bannen, Hope and Glory) who steals a war medal from the novelty store in order to impress a street vendor (Donald Pleasence, John Carpenter’s Halloween). Later, the huckster introduces the manager to his daughter (Pleasence’s real-life daughter Angela, Symptoms), who isn’t as nice as she appears to be…

This is by far my favorite segment. It’s creepy and the ending is nuts! Pleasence and his daughter Angela (she has her dad’s piercing blue eyes) make a great team. Diana Dors appears in a small role as Bannen’s nagging wife. I would argue that the former sex symbol was more effective in these character parts than in the sex comedies that made her famous — Dors tears into Bannen’s namby-pamby husband with great delight.

The Elemental

The third tale, “The Elemental” (approx. 20 min.), focuses on a businessman (Ian Carmichael, I’m All Right Jack) who goes to the antique shop and switches price tags on a couple of  snuffboxes. On his way back home, he bumps into a psychic (Margaret Leighton, Under Capricorn) who informs him that he has a demon on his shoulder.

“The Elemental” is like a spoof of The Exorcist, with Leighton — she’s almost unrecognizable behind a big wig and thick glasses — stealing the show as a kooky clairvoyant who performs one hell of an exorcism. Leighton’s hilariously quirky performance makes the tale more funny than scary, but like the other segments, the tale ends on an appropriately sour note.

The Door

“The Door” (approx. 20 min.) is the title of the fourth and last story. The segment revolves around a young writer (Ian Ogilvy, And Now the Screaming Starts) who buys a centuries-old door from the antique shop unaware that the baroque door is nothing but a trap created by a malevolent sorcerer (Jack Watson, Schizo) .

“The Door” is, in my opinion, the weakest segment. The idea is good, but the story felt rushed and I didn’t think the ending was strong enough. It’s very atmospheric, however. And you get to see the gorgeous Lesley-Anne Down (The Great Train Robbery) in one of her very first film roles (I didn’t even recognize her at first).

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Although not in the league of Amicus’s anthologies Tales From the Crypt (1972) or The Vault of Horror (1973), I loved From Beyond the Grave, warts and all — it’s a fun horror omnibus. Well-directed by Kevin Connor (The Land That Time Forgot and The People That Time Forgot) and splendidly photographed by Alan Hume (For Your Eyes Only and Return of the Jedi). Recommended. Color, 98 minutes, Rated PG.

This is my contribution to the Third Great Hammer-Amicus Blogathon, hosted by Cinematic Catharsis and Realweegiemidget Reviews.

20 responses to “From Beyond the Grave (1974)

  1. Hi Binford – I like this one a lot too, especially the performances by Pleasance, Leighton, Warner and Dors. I totally agree Diana Dors came into her own as an actress after her sex symbol years…Just watched this not too long ago and enjoyed it immensely.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: BLOGATHON… A Last Encore From the Houses of Hammer and Amicus – Realweegiemidget Reviews Films TV Books and more·

  3. I watched this for the second time last year, and it was as much fun (or more) as I remembered it being. Some people think Peter Cushing is wasted as the shopkeeper in the framing sequences, but he is at his absolute best, thinly smiling and pretending not to notice as each customer thinks they’re pulling one over on him. Lots of fun, and very creepy!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Another great review! This movie is pure fun. I agree that it might not be the strongest, but it has some creepy moments, and Cushing looks like he’s having fun. I also agree that the last segment could have been better. Thanks again for joining our little blogathon!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I actually think this is one of the best, so maybe I’m in the minority. Cushing is great in the framing story and Leighton and Carmichael are a hoot. The two Pleasences are quite a creepy double act. It’s surprising how long it took Donald Pleasence to appear in one of these.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. With Pleasence, Warner, and Cushing it is an absolute disgrace that I haven’t seen From Beyond the Grave yet. I’ve been trying to work my way through the Hammer and Amicus film libraries. I simply haven’t it made it to this one yet. Your review makes me want to rectify this as soon as possible.

    Liked by 2 people

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