Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday Death: Tales from the Crypt (1972)

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale.  A tale of a fateful crypt.  That started with an anthology film based on comic strips.  Yes, this is the original Tales From The Crypt film.  It all started with EG Comics and their dark, horror tales famous for putting decapitated heads and zombies on the covers.  Way to help bring about comic censorship in the '50s, guys!  Seriously though, these comics have been a boon for films, leading to this one as well as the Creepshow series (minus the piece of shit third one).  Why does this Anthology Film make my Christmas Week Review List though?  You'll see.  One thing to note is that this movie features a half dozen or so tales, as opposed to the standard 3 or 4.  The result is that all of them are shorter.  That makes them more condensed and concise.  It also means that subtlety goes out the window in order to set-up, play out and close a tale in roughly ten minutes.  I just thought that you should know.  Get out your unwanted Christmas presents for my review of...
A group of tourists visit a Catacomb of sorts.  Why?  I'm guessing that they want to see the inbred, pig-mask-wearing killer there.  Anyhow, they linger about like idiots and get split up.  They end up in a secret room with Sir Ralph Richardson dressed like a Druid and sitting in front of a skull background.  Wrong turn, wrong turn!  He orders them to sit and tells them each a tale.  The first one features Ms. Joan Collins (ladies and star-power first) at Christmas.  All is well in the house as an older man sits down to read the paper.  Oh yeah, that and die...
Joan kills him and hides this from their daughter upstairs.  What's the long-term plan, Joan?  She hears a radio report about an escaped lunatic wearing a Santa suit being out there.  Uh oh, Lobo is free!  She locks up and hides when he passes by.  Wow, genuine tension.  That goes away quickly, however, as she closes the blinds and begins to arduously clean the scene up.  She goes to check on the daughter, only to find her missing.  She goes back downstairs and learned that the girl let in Santa.  Ruh roh.  He chases her to the fire and kind of chokes her.  It's mostly a massage, but whatever.  We cut back to the group.  Happy Holidays.
That's only the first fifteen minutes or so of the film, mind you.  A lot more happens.  They rip off 'The Monkey's Paw' (and reference it in the tale!) along with other stuff.  It all ends with one guy falling into Hell.  Got to love 1970's rear-projection effects, huh?
This (part of) the okay.  The plot is simple and concise.  Unfortunately, the terror comes and goes due to it's nature.  The evil, lurking 'Santa' is a great menace, but he's literally forgotten about for a few, long minutes there.  All you had to do was cut back to him lurking, guys!  The trade-off is that his sudden reappearance is more dramatic this way.  It's also a bit silly too.  Was he just sitting on a bench or something until the girl saw him?  When you don't show it, I have to assume.  The acting is decent, although it's solely Joan's show.  The husband is just there to say two lines or so and die.  On the plus side, he was paid for it.  I wish this was a longer tale and played more off of the girl's love for/eventual fear of Santa.  You have some real tension and drama there.  I suppose it's a bit late to give notes for a film made 11 years before I was even born though, huh?  It's just a thought.  The biggest selling point of the whole film for me is the irony that The Cryptkeeper goes from being played by Sir Ralph Richardson here to a pun-spewing puppet in the TV show.  What a segue!  Enjoy your death massage, Joan!
Up next, I attempt to cover a long-time cult classic.  Unfortunately, one of the worst VHS-rips ever may hinder the whole thing.  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. Whenever I revisit this one, it always strikes me how gd HOT Joan Collins was when this was made. Yowza!!