Tales from the Crypt (1972)

tales from the crypt poster 1972 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Psycho Santa, malicious neighbors

Some stories are a bit slow

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Tales from the Crypt

Studio:  Amicus Productions

Genre(s):  Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  March 8, 1972

MPAA Rating:  R

tales from the crypt keeper ralph richardson

Welcome to my crypt…I think you’ll stay

Five strangers on a tour group of a strange crypt become lost and come upon an enigmatic crypt keeper (Ralph Richardson). As the Crypt Keeper faces each person, he tells their story and their future…or is it their past?

Directed by Freddie Francis, Tales from the Crypt was a 1972 British film based on the popular (and controversial) EC Comics of the 1950s.  The anthology film is split into five stories adapted from Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, and The Haunt of Fear. The movie has had some cult success but found even more popularity in the ’90s with the release of HBO’s Tales from the Crypt television show.

Anthology shows are very lucky in that if things aren’t going well, they can change the story and the cast while using pretty typical story tropes.  Generally anthologies do have a weak story and Tales from the Crypt does have stories that are weaker than other stories…fortunately, the film overall is quite strong for fans of horror.

tales from the crypt and all through the house killer santa claus

Santa thinks you’ve been bad

“…And All Through the House”

Joan Clayton (Joan Collins) kills her husband on Christmas Eve as her daughter sleeps. As Joan plots to get rid of the body, she learns of a mental patient dressed as Santa Claus has escaped. With the killer Santa Claus outside and the body of her husband inside, could it be the perfect opportunity to cover the murder?

The first story in the film is probably the most remembered and comes from The Vault of Horror #35. Anytime you have a murderous Santa Claus it is creepy, but it is fun that Collins character is also a murderer…the Santa Claus almost becomes incidental for a large part of the story until the end.  The episode unfortunately ends rather abruptly due to the format of the movie (but I still find it better than the adaptation for the TV series).

tales from the crypt reflections of death zombie ian hendry

Calgon, take me away!!!

“Reflections of Death”

Carl Maitland (Ian Hendry) has decided to leave his wife and family to run off with his mistress (Angela Grant). Suffering a nightmare in the car, Maitland wakes to a horrible accident. Maitland wanders home where he’s met with horror and disgust. Unable to find help, Maitland goes to the home of his mistress to learn the accident might have been worse than he thought.

The second story is adapted from Tales from the Crypt #23. It is a perpetual nightmare type story where the character is caught in a hellish loop. It is one of the weaker stories in the film but most of the stories in the movie are fun and short enough that even the weaker ones like this one still work.

tales from the crypt poetic justice peter cushing

Can I borrow some moisturizer?

“Poetic Justice”

Edward Elliot (David Markham) and James Elliot (Robin Phillips) grow tired of their elderly junkman neighbor Arthur Grimsdyke (Peter Cushing), his love of the neighborhood children, and his home bringing down property values. When James plots a way to get rid of Grimsdyke, he begins his campaign to get Grimsdyke out of the neighborhood at any cost.

Adapting The Haunt of Fear #12, this story features a nice guy killed by the rich guys. Cushing is good as a man who is systematically destroyed by Phillips who takes away everything he loves one-by-one. It is a bit more acted than some of the other segments and goes for an obvious but built up, shock ending. I thought it would have been cooler if the children that Grimsdyke befriended actually avenged his death.

tales from the crypt wish you were here monkeys paw

Wait…why do I have to go to hell…you made the wishes, lady

“Wish You Were Here”

Ralph Jason (Richard Greene) and his wife Enid (Barbara Murray) find a Chinese statue granting wishes. Despite Jason’s warnings of the story of “The Monkey’s Paw”, Barbara wishes for financial success. Jason is killed, and Enid vows to do anything to get him back.

“Wish You Were Here” adapts The Haunt of Fear #22 and is probably the most gory of all the stories in the movie. It goes for the EC style of gross-out with some gut shots and a person tortured by pain. It is also kind of interesting that it is Greene’s character in the Crypt Keeper’s vault since his character is really the victim of the story and gave the warning to Enid who made the wishes despite his warning. Also strange is that the story out-and-out says it is adapting W. W. Jacobs’ “Monkey’s Paw” story instead of just pretending they made it up.

tales from the crypt blind alleys nigel patrick

Really you could have bent or removed most of those razors if you really wanted to…

“Blind Alleys”

When Major William Rogers (Nigel Patrick) takes over a home for the blind, he chooses it run it as a military operation with the economic bottom line as the rule. The blind patients begin to object to Rogers’ ruling and lead by George Carter (Patrick Magee), the blind patients plot their revenge.

The final story adapts Tales from the Crypt #46 and is a classic revenge tale. Rogers is good as the cold major and Magee of A Clockwork Orange fame overplays and overacts his blind character. The story is pretty goofy and also one of the weaker stories which is a shame since they should have ended the film with a real bang. This story of course leads into the revelation by the Crypt Keeper that he isn’t showing the future but the past and that they are all dead (which to most viewers doesn’t come as any shock).

Tales from the Crypt is a fun ’70s horror film with a real classic horror Hammer film type feel (probably due to its British filmmakers). The stories are fun and by having five stories instead of four like a lot of movies, if you don’t like one the next one comes up pretty quickly. Tales from the Crypt was followed by The Vault of Horror in 1973.

Related Links:

The Vault of Horror (1973)

Tales from the Crypt—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Tales from the Crypt—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Tales from the Crypt—Season 3 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Tales from the Crypt—Season 4 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Tales from the Crypt—Season 5 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Tales from the Crypt—Season 6 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Tales from the Crypt—Season 7 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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