Tales that Witness Madness
Norman Priggen for World Film Services
directed by Freddie Francis
starring Donald Pleasence, Jack Hawkins, Russell Lewis, Georgia Brown, Donald Houston, Suzy Kendall, Peter McEnery, Joan Collins, Michael Jayston, Kim Novak, Michael Petrovitch, Mary Tamm, Leon Lissek, Leslie Nunnerley, David Wood, Zohra Sehgal, Neil Kennedy, Richard Connaught, Beth Morris, Frank Forsyth
written by Jay Fairbank (= Jennifer Jayne), music by Bernard Ebbinghouse
Psychiatrist Doctor Tremayne (Donald Pleasence) presents his colleague
Doctor Nicholas (Jack Hawkins) with four cases he claims to have healed:
- Young Paul (Russell Lewis) always had a kind of strained
relationship to his parents (Georgia Brown, Donald Houston), so he
made himself up a tiger as his imaginary friend. Only the tiger was
not all that imaginary and eventually killed Paul's parents.
- Timothy (Peter McEnery) finds himself possessed by a penny-farthing
(= a big-wheeled bike of yesteryear) and a portrait of a grand uncle,
they take him back in time to yesteryear to become his
penny-farthing-riding grand uncle ... until Timothy's girlfriend
(Suzy Kendall) burns both the penny-farthing and the portrait - but is
stabbed by the portrait (really) in return.
- Brian (Michael Jayston) finds a weirdly shaped tree trunk in the
forest and brings it home, but his girlfriend Bella (Joan Collins)
doesn't like it - so she and the tree trunk start fighting over him
... and the tree trunk wins.
- Auriol (Kim Novak) wants to throw a Luau (= Hawaiian party) for her
Hawaiian client Keemo (Michael Petrovitch), but fails to realize that
he might want to use the Luau for his own purposes, a Hawaiian ritual
that involves a human sacrifice - Auriol's own daughter (Mary Tamm).
And since Auriol is so fascinated by Keemo, she fails to realize until
it's much too late.
Doc Tremayne thinks he has made his point, but Doc Nicholas just
declares him insane ... until he is attacked and killed by the imaginary
tiger from the first story.
A rather obvious attempt of production house World Film Services
to cash in on rival studio Amicus's
line of horror anthologies, copying not only that studio's concept and
looks but also employing their house director Freddie Francis. The problem
with this film at hand is though that three of the four stories don't make
much sense at all, employ surreal elements in very clumsy ways, and are by
no means scary or tense or anything. It's only in story number four (the
one with the human sacrifice) that the film finally shows some potential,
and it's that story that saves it from total insignificance, but it
doesn't make it a great movie either and is probably good mainly in
comparison to earlier stories.
In all, whoever's into Amicus
omnibus movies will probably want to see this as well no
matter what, but will probably be disappointed anyways. Everyone else
though is adviced do give this one a miss.
review © by Mike Haberfelner
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