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Tales from the Crypt
Geschichten aus der Gruft

UK 1972
produced by
Max J. Rosenberg & Milton Subotsky for Amicus Productions
directed by Freddie Francis
starring Joan Collins, Ian Hendry, Robin Phillips, Richard Greene, Nigel Patrick, Ralph Richardson, Peter Cushing, Patrick Magee, Roy Dotrice, David Markham, Robert Hutton, Geoffrey Bayldon, Angie Grant, Susan Denny, Martin Boddey, Chloe Franks, Oliver MacGreevy, Paul Clere, Sharon Clere
based on the EC Comics Vault of Horror & Tales of the Crypt published by William M.Gaines

Tales from the Crypt, Amicus omnibus movies

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Visiting some catacombs, 5 persons are cut off from the rest of the tourgroup &, by chance it seems, do enter a mysterious crypt, where they get locked in & a mysterious man (Ralph Richardson), the Crypt Keeper, tells them their respective fates:
  • On Christmas Eve, Joanne (Joan Collins) kills her husband Richard (Martin Boddey) & is then pretty much preoccupied with making it look like an accident, so it's a good thing she has heard on the radio that a homicidal maniac in a Santa costume (Oliver MacGreevy) is roaming the neighbourhood & she has locked all the doors & windows just in time. Unfortunately though, her innocent little daughter (Chloe Franks) mistakes the maniac for the real Santa ...
  • In utmost secrecy, Carl Maitland (Ian Hendry) is leaving his wife (Susan Denny) & children (Paul & Sharon Clere), to move to another town with his girlfriend Susan (Angie Grant). His secrecy goes so far in fact that he hasn't even told his family. When driving to the new town though, Carl & Susan have an accident, & when Carl frees himself from the carwreck, he has to realize all people run from him in terror. Finally he gets to Susan's old appartment & she tells him they had the accident already 2 years ago, & he died while she got blinded (which is why she doesn't run away in terror) ... Then Carl wakes up, everything was just a dream, & he & Susan are still in the car going to their new home ... when they have an accident ...
  • For some reason, rich son James Elliott (Robin Phillips) hates his neighbour Grymsdyke (Peter Cushing), a poor but kind scrap collector who just likes to have little kids & his dogs around him. Legally though he can't get rid of his neighbour, so James develops a plan in 4 stages to get rid of the old man: First he destroys the posh gardens of his other neighbours & blames it on the dogs so at one point the police just has to take away Grymsdyke's dogs. On the second stage, James has Grymsdyke fired from his job in the community, thirdly he tells the parents of the kids who visit Grymsdyke that he's a you-know-what, & to top it all off, the next Valentine's Day, James sends Grymsdyke tons of hatemail ...

    After that, Grymsdyke seems to have vanished, & when James & his father (David Markham) go look for him, they find him hanged ... dead of course.

    End of story, wouldn't Grymsdyke have been a closet spiritist, & on the anniversary of his death, he rises from his grave to pull the heart out of James' body to make the heartless slob a truly heartless slob.

  • Ralph Jason (Richard Greene) has lost all in a business deal, & all in this context means everything, including his personal belongings. Then though he & his wife Enid (Barbara Murray) find an Oriental idol that grants them 3 wishes, they are desperate enough to even try this, & enid wishes for lots of money ... Not soon afterwards, Ralph has a fatal car acciodent, & Enid - thanks to his insurance - gets lots of money. Realizing the idol at least mioght work, she wishes Ralph back as he was exactly before the accident ... not knowing that he has died from a heartattack just befroe the car crashed. So instead of a mutilated body from a car accident, she gets her hubby back in the best of shaes, but still dead. Then she wishes him back to life, & to live forever, & coming back he does, but in terrible pain, since he has already been embalmed, & when Enid tries to kill him out of mercy, it won'Twork since she has wished him to live forever ...
  • Ex-army major Rogers (Nigel Patrick) is hired to run a home for the blind, & sees no reason why he should run it any differently from his detail in the army - he has even brought his bloodthirsty dog to emphasize on that point. The blinds though are pretty miffed about being treated like soldiers, & have numerous complaints about lack of proper heating or too bad & too little food. But instead of listening to them, Rogers only threatens to release his dog on them ... 

    When one of the blinds die however, they decide to fight back & lure Rogers' dog away from him, to lock him into the cellar. Then they lure Rogers into the cellar too & lock him into the next room, after which they build an exclusive corridor between the 2 rooms, with the walls spiked with razorblades & starve the dog until he is hungry enough for a reunion with his master ...

The stories are told, & now, to little surprise for the audience, the crypt turns out to be not an ordinary crypt at all but the entrance-hall to hell ...


Director Freddie Francis - while held in the highest regards as a cameraman - was never known to be one of the most original directors. However, when he was offered the right story that he could paint in broad strokes, tell in bright colours & build on its macabre subtexts, he was just the man for the job ... & in this respect, Tales from the Crypt, an adaptation of several stories published by E.C.Comics, was a perfect movie for Francis, & he didn't disappoint in telling some wicked, dark but also ironic tales of terror.

William M.Gaines' EC Comics were in the 50's deemed as dangerous by some American censors & were thus banned before the end of the 1950's ... which only contributed to their notoriety, but on the other hand obscured the fact that these comics were actually well done, highly moralistic shortstories that would invariably feature a macabre twist ... which was of curse perfect stuff for Amicus, a studio that was always the most successful (both artistically & commercially) when doing anthology- (or omnibus-) movies.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD