From Beyond the Grave

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From Beyond the Grave
Frombeyondgraveposter.jpg
Belgian theatrical release poster
Directed byKevin Connor
Produced byMax Rosenberg
Milton Subotsky
Written byRaymond Christodoulou
Robin Clarke
StarringPeter Cushing
Donald Pleasence
Ian Bannen
Diana Dors
David Warner
Music byDouglas Gamley
CinematographyAlan Hume
Edited byJohn Ireland
Distributed byAmicus Productions
Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date
23 February 1974
Running time
97 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

From Beyond the Grave is a 1974 British anthology horror film from Amicus Productions, directed by horror director Kevin Connor, produced by Milton Subotsky and based on stories by R. Chetwynd-Hayes

It was the last in a series of anthology films from Amicus and was preceded by Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965), Torture Garden (1967), The House That Dripped Blood (1970), Asylum (1972), Tales from the Crypt (1972) and The Vault of Horror (1973).[1]

Originally filmed as The Undead, it is also known as The Creatures, Tales from Beyond the Grave, and Tales from the Beyond.

Plot[edit]

Four customers purchase (or take) items from Temptations Limited, an antiques shop whose motto is "Offers You Cannot Resist". A nasty fate awaits those who cheat the shop's Proprietor (Peter Cushing).

The Gatecrasher[edit]

Edward Charlton (David Warner) purchases an antique mirror for a knockdown price, having tricked the Proprietor into believing it is a reproduction. When he takes it home, Charlton holds a séance at the suggestion of his friends, and falls into a trance. He finds himself in a netherworld where he is approached by a sinister figure (Marcel Steiner). The figure appears to stab him, and Charlton awakes screaming.

Later, the figure's face appears in the mirror and orders Charlton to kill so that he can "feed". Charlton butchers people until the apparition is able to manifest himself outside of the mirror. The figure then explains that Charlton must do one more thing before the figure can walk abroad and join the others like him. The figure says he will take Charlton "beyond the ultimate", and persuades Charlton to kill himself by impaling himself on a knife.

The mirror stays in Charlton's flat for years after his death, until the latest owner also decides to hold a séance. Once the séance starts, Charlton's hungry spectre appears in the mirror, indicating the cycle would begin again.

An Act of Kindness[edit]

Christopher Lowe (Ian Bannen) is a frustrated middle management drone trapped in a loveless marriage with Mabel (Diana Dors). Bullied by his wife, and shown no respect by his son, he befriends Jim Underwood (Donald Pleasence) an old soldier now scratching out a living as a match and shoe lace seller.

In an effort to impress, Lowe tells Underwood that he is a decorated soldier. To back up this lie, he tries to persuade the Proprietor to sell him a Distinguished Service Order medal. When the Proprietor asks that Lowe provide the certificate to prove he had previously been awarded the medal, Lowe steals the medal. Underwood is impressed by the medal, and asks Lowe to come to his house for tea. Once there he meets Underwood's daughter, Emily (Angela Pleasence). Over time Lowe is seduced by Emily's frankly rather creepy charms, and they start an affair. Emily then produces a miniature doll of Mabel, and holds a knife to it. She asks Lowe to order her to do his will. Lowe agrees that she should cut the doll. When she does, a drop of blood appears from its mouth. A disturbed Lowe dashes home to find Mabel dead. Underwood and Emily then appear at Lowe's home, and walk in to the sound of the wedding march.

Later, Emily and Lowe are married. Lowe's son (played by the future writer John O'Farrell) and Jim Underwood attend the wedding. When the time comes to cut the cake, Emily asks all present whether they wish her to. They all agree and Emily brings the knife down, but rather than cut the cake, she cuts into the head of the decorative groom on top. Blood pours out of it, and Lowe falls on to the table, dead. Underwood and Emily explain to Lowe's son that they always answer the prayers of a child "in one way or another".

The Elemental[edit]

Reggie Warren (Ian Carmichael) is a somewhat pompous business man who enters Temptations Ltd and puts the price tag of a cheaper snuff box in the one he wants to buy, whilst out of sight. The Proprietor sells him the box at the altered price, bidding him farewell with a cheery "I hope you enjoy snuffing it" and rings up a 'no sale' through the till.

On the train home, an apparently batty self-professed psychic, Madame Orloff (Margaret Leighton), disturbs Warren whilst he reads his paper, advising him he has an elemental on his shoulder. Warren dismisses her, but has cause to call on her services when his dog disappears and his wife Susan (Nyree Dawn Porter) is attacked by an unseen force.

Orloff exorcises the elemental from Warrens' home, and all seems well—even the dog returns. Later the Warrens hear noises upstairs, and Reggie investigates. He is knocked down and falls to the foot of the stairs, unconscious. When he awakes, he finds Susan possessed by the elemental. The creature says Reggie tried to deny it life, and it kills him before smashing through the front door.

The Door[edit]

William Seaton (Ian Ogilvy) is a writer who purchases an ancient ornate door from the Proprietor. He is unable to meet the Proprietor's asking price, but agrees a reduced price with him. When the Proprietor goes to the back of the shop to note Seaton's details, he leaves the till open. After Seaton leaves, the Proprietor starts counting the money in the till.

Seaton's wife, Rosemary (Lesley-Anne Down) thinks the door is too grand to lead to a stationery cupboard, but when she touches it she seems to be able to see what originally lay behind it. The Door begins to exert a strange fascination over Seaton, and he finds that when he finally opens it a mysterious blue room lies beyond. There, he finds the notes of Sir Michael Sinclair (Jack Watson), an evil occultist who created the door as a means to trap those who entered through it, so that Sinclair can take their souls and live forever.

Seaton escapes, but when he tries to leave his house he finds that the door's influence has spread, and he and Rosemary are trapped. In a trance, Rosemary is unable to stop herself from opening the door and entering the room, where she is incapacitated by Sinclair. Sinclair carries her through the doorway, mocking Seaton by asking him to follow, as two souls are better than one.

Seaton starts to smash the door with an axe, and the room and Sinclair start to crumble. Seaton tries to rescue Rosemary, but is attacked by Sinclair. Seaton has Rosemary continue axing the door, and manages to break free. They continue demolishing the door, destroying the room and turning Sinclair to a skeleton and then dust when they break the door from its hinges. The door is gone, and the two hug warmly in front of what is now just a stationery cupboard. Back at the shop, the Proprietor finishes counting and finds all the money present and correct, hence the 'good' conclusion to the tale.

Between each of the segments, a shady character (Ben Howard) is seen to be casing the shop. In the end, he enters and persuades the Proprietor to hand him two loaded antique pistols. He then tries to rob the Proprietor, who refuses to hand him any money and walks towards the thief. The thief shoots, but finds bullets cannot stop the Proprietor. Terrified, the thief staggers back, is hit by a swinging skeleton, falls into what appears to be a combination of a coffin and an iron maiden, and is spiked to death. "Nasty", the Proprietor says. The Proprietor then welcomes the viewer as his next customer, and explains he caters for all tastes, and that each purchase comes with "a big novelty surprise".

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Kevin Connor says he got the job as director after Milton Subotsky read some scripts he had adapted with some friends. Subotsky took four of them, linked them, and offered him the job of directing. Connor pointed out he had never directed but Subotsky argued editors made the best directors. Connor says the movie's budget was "miniscule. In the early 70's the film business was in the doldrums and we could get a superb cast for almost minimum Equity." [2]

Critical reception[edit]

Allmovie's review of the film was generally favourable, writing, "The last of the Amicus anthologies is a fun, old-fashioned example of the form."[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ed. Allan Bryce, Amicus: The Studio That Dripped Blood, Stray Cat Publishing, 2000 p 126-137
  2. ^ "Exclusive Interview With Legendary Director Kevin Connor". Horror Channel. 7 August 2012.
  3. ^ Donald Guarisco. "From Beyond the Grave (1973)". Retrieved 6 July 2012.

External links[edit]