Tales from the Crypt is an Anthology Film released in 1972 by the British Amicus Productions. It is a horror anthology, adapting five tales from the EC Comics titles Tales from the Crypt, The Haunt of Fear and The Vault of Horror.
Three of these stories ("All Through the House", "Blind Alleys" aka "Revenge is the Nuts", and "Wish You Were Here") were later adapted into episodes of the Tales from the Crypt television series.
It was followed in 1973 by a second anthology film, Vault of Horror.
Synopsis (From Wikipedia, with additions):
Framing Story (Opening)
Five strangers go with a tourist group to view old catacombs. Separated from the main group, they find themselves in a room with the mysterious Crypt Keeper (Ralph Richardson), who presents each of them with visions of how they will die.
...And All Through the House (The Vault of Horror #35)
After Joanne Clayton (Joan Collins) murders her husband (Martin Boddey) on Christmas Eve, she prepares to hide his body but hears a radio announcement stating that a homicidal maniac in a Santa suit (Oliver MacGreevy) is on the loose. She sees the maniac outside her house but can't call the police because of her husband's body.
Reflection of Death (Tales from the Crypt #23)
Carl Maitland (Ian Hendry) abandons his family to be with Susan Blake (Angela Grant). After they drive off together, they are involved in a car accident. He wakes up in the wrecked car and attempts to hitchhike home, but no one will stop for him. Arriving at his house, he sees his wife (Susan Denny) with another man. He knocks on the door, but she screams and slams the door. He staggers to his lover's house and is received, but she reveals she was blinded in the same car crash that killed her lover...
Poetic Justice (The Haunt of Fear #12)
Edward Elliott (David Markham) and his son James (Robin Phillips) are a snobbish pair who resent their neighbor, elderly garbage man Arthur Grimsdyke (Peter Cushing) who owns a number of animals and entertains children in his house. To get rid of what they see as a blight on the neighborhood, they push Grimsdyke into a frenzy by conducting a smear campaign against him, first resulting in the removal of his beloved dogs (while one of them came back to him), getting him fired without pension, and later exploiting parents' paranoiac fears about child molestation. Grimsdyke, in despair, eventually hangs himself, but one year later...
Wish You Were Here (The Haunt of Fear #22)
A variation on W. W. Jacobs' famed short story "The Monkey's Paw". Ruthless businessman Ralph Jason (Richard Greene) is close to financial ruin. His wife Enid (Barbara Murray) discovers a Chinese figurine and wishes for a fortune. Ralph is killed on the way to his lawyer's office, the lawyer then advising Enid she will inherit a fortune from her deceased husband's life insurance plan. She uses her second wish to bring him back to the way he was just before the accident but learns that his death was due to a heart attack (caused by fright when he sees the figure of 'death' following him on a motorcycle).
Blind Alleys (Tales from the Crypt #46)
Major William Rogers (Nigel Patrick), the new director of a home for the blind, makes drastic financial cuts, reducing heat and rationing food for the residents, while he lives in luxury with Shane, his Belgian Malinois. When he ignores complaints and a man dies due to the cold, the blind residents, led by George Carter (Patrick Magee) exact revenge.
Framing Story (Ending)
The confused and baffled strangers ask why they were shown these visions, and the Crypt Keeper reveals that he wasn't warning them of future events, but explaining why they had been sent to Hell.
This film contains examples of:
- Abomination Accusation Attack: Insinuations of pedophilia are used to help drive Grimsdyke to suicide.
- Adaptation Name Change: Major Rogers's name was Mr. Gunner in the original comic.
- Adaptation Personality Change: The Crypt Keeper is quite somber and subdued, as opposed to the snarky Pungeon Master he was in the comics and later TV series (although in exchange, he is a fairly good physical likeness of the comics' version, unlike the later TV depiction).
- Adaptational Villainy: Compared to the comic, most characters are attributed some terrible deed to justify their suffering.
- "Reflection of Death"'s main character is given an extramarital affair he didn't have in the comic.
- An off-hand reference in "Wish You Were Here" implies that Ralph was a former arms trafficker instead of just an unlucky guy as in the comic.
- Oddly, inverted in "Blind Alleys". Although the home directors are selfish and neglectful in both, the comic version actually plays cruel pranks on his blind charges while the film version does not.
- Amnesiac Dissonance: The memories of the people in the framing stories have been rolled back to the point before they committed their misdeeds. They're all pretty shocked and confused about what they did.
- And Show It to You: The conclusion of "Poetic Justice".
- Asshole Victim:
- All the main characters really, but especially Major Rogers and James Elliot.
- Nearly averted by Maitland. When he's about to go off with his mistress, he's momentarily reluctant to leave his wife and children, and seems to be reconsidering. But, he goes ahead with his plan anyway, and later looks pretty satisfied with his choice.
- Back from the Dead: Carl Maitland does this without realizing it in his story.
- Bad Santa: The Santa suited serial killer in "...And All Through the House".
- Beat Still, My Heart: For something like eight or nine hours, actually.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: "Wish You Were Here".
- Beware the Nice Ones: Grimsdyke is put through a painful Trauma Conga Line, and when he comes back he has something to say about it.
- The Dead Have Eyes: Notably averted in "Poetic Justice" (even if the makeup effect is a little primitive).
- Dead All Along: Everyone in the framing story.
- Death Course: In "Blind Alleys", the abusive manager of a home for the blind gets his comeuppance when the visually-impaired men he's been mistreating lock him in his office and construct a Death Course through which he must exit, with hundreds of razor blades set into the walls of a very narrow passage.
- Disability Superpower: Invoked in "Blind Alleys", but it's definitely a Blessed With Suck situation.Carter: With all due respect, sir, we are not soldiers. Blind people are not like people with sight. We have lost one sense but the loss of that sense only tends to sharpen the others. Do you know what that means? We feel things more acutely! If food tastes bad it tastes worse to us, if a room is dirty we feel every speck, if an insect scurries across the floor we hear it, and if it's cold we feel the cold more. Why don't you sell that painting and buy us fuel or extra blankets?
- Disposing of a Body: Joanne Clayton needed to find a way to do this before she could call the police about the Serial Killer outside her house.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Sure, they did terrible things, but the people in the framing story cannot actually remember committing their various misdeeds at all. Nevertheless they still get sent to Hell. Then again, they're already dead, and therefore presumably beyond any chance of repentance or atonement. The Crypt Keeper himself tells them that this is the place for the people who have died without repentance and showed them why they are there.
- The Dog Bites Back: "Poetic Justice" and "Blind Alleys" couple this with Pay Evil unto Evil as the victims of the wicked turn into their punishers.
- Downer Ending: The "tourists" have been dead the whole time, and the catacombs they're supposedly touring is actually Hell.
- Eureka Moment: Seeing a neighbor tending to flowers is when James Elliott first gets the idea to crush Grimsdyke's hopes.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The sole redeeming feature of most of the damned ones, is that in life, they had someone they cared about. Joanne had her daughter, the Elliots each other, Jason his wife, and Major Rogers his dog.
- Even Evil Has Standards: The Elliots are genuinely unnerved and uncomfortable when their plan drives Grimsdyke to suicide in "Poetic Justice". Edward even pays for the funeral out of guilt and a year on they're still very uncomfortable about it.
- Evil vs. Evil: In "...And All Through the House" there is the financially motivated murderous wife against a serial killer with a fixation on killing random adult women.
- Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: The Elliots (James in particular) don't care for Grimsdyke because of his class, job, and way he keeps his house, despite him being the nicest guy in the world with nothing bad to say about anyone.
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: At the end, the Crypt Keeper dispatches all his unwilling guests to a Fire and Brimstone Hell, then turns to camera and says "Now, who's next?...Maybe — you...?"
- Framing Device: The characters are all learning why they're in Hell/paying for their sins by being forced to relive their stories.
- Genre Savvy: The characters in "Wish You Were Here" are familiar with "The Monkey's Paw" story and try to proceed accordingly. (Not that it does them any good...)
- Gone Horribly Right: The Elliots very much want Grimsdyke out of their neighborhood, but their reaction to the news of his suicide suggests that they didn't really intend for that.
- The Grim Reaper: Shows up to give Ralph Jason a heart attack.
- "Groundhog Day" Loop: Maitland seemingly gets stuck in one of these in "Reflection of Death".
- Heroes Love Dogs: Grimsdyke adores his dogs and is devastated when they're taken away.
- Hope Crusher: This is what Elliot did to Grimsdyke by taking away from him everything that he loved. He took away his dogs by using the law and framing them for his vandalism, the neighborhood children by indirectly accusing him of being a pedophile and the feelings of accceptance by making him believe that everyone hated him and wished he was dead.
- Hope Spot: One of Grimsdyke's dogs manages to escape and return to him, which he is thrilled by. Unfortunately, the smear campaign against him gets worse immediately afterwards.
- Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday:
- Christmas for "...And All Through the House".
- Valentine's Day for "Poetic Justice".
- Howl of Sorrow: Grimsdyke's remaining dog wails after he commits suicide. Apparently, this went on for a whole week, as that's how long it took the Elliots to learn about the suicide.
- Insurance Fraud: Joanna's motive for killing her husband in "...And All Through the House".
- James Elliot and his son did what he did to poor Grimsdyke because he looked scruffy. That's it.
- Rogers treats his charges like shit and kills one of them indirectly because of it.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: In "...And All Through the House" and "Wish You Were Here", the main characters' comeuppance comes at the hands of just-as-evil punishers who just happen to encounter them and unknowingly make them pay.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: Joanne Clayton does this with her husband's body in "...And All Through the House", so she can phone the police about the Santa-killer. Unfortunately for her, she never gets the chance to do so.
- The Neidermeyer: Major Rogers was one of these, and runs the Home for the Blind in exactly the same way.
- Nightmare Face: Grimsdyke doesn't look too well after returning from the dead.◊
- Offscreen Teleportation: The Crypt Keeper makes his appearance in this manner in the opening segment.
- P.O.V. Cam: Used for part of the "Reflection of Death" segment.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: Johann Sebastian Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" is utilized as a theme tune.
- Something We Forgot: At Grimsdyke's funeral, his one remaining dog is seen with the children, suggesting that one of them will take the pooch in.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The Christmas carols on the radio throughout "...And All Through the House".
- Spooky Séance: Averted. Grimsdyke actually has a rather sweet relationship with his deceased wife.
- Tranquil Fury: When Carter finally has enough of Rogers' bullshit after one of the blind people dies because of it, he exacts revenge in a cold and calculating manner, with his features almost utterly expressionless as he traps Rogers, drives his dog mad with hunger, and sets him through a torture maze before setting his crazed dog on him.Carter: Don't worry. He'll be well-fed, Major Rogers...sir.
- Theme Serial Killer: Likes to wear a Santa suit. Got a kid who can open the door? Uh-oh.
- Unwitting Pawn: Neighbors and local officials are all just pawns in James Elliot's secret smear campaign against Grimsdyke.
- Villain Protagonist: Every single main character in the stories.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The last we see of the cook from the home for the blind, he's grabbed by the patients and forced into a room, with no indication of whether they're going to kill him, beat him, or merely detain him while they deal with Rogers.
- Your Cheating Heart: Leads Carl Maitland to abandon his family.