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Carl the Critic: Talks About The Horror Film "Tales From the Crypt" (1972) [Caution: Contains Plot Spoilers]

Updated on January 6, 2012

"Tales From The Crypt"


"Tales From The Crypt" Trailer

"Tales From The Crypt"

[This was suppose to be done by Halloween, but since I was in a play this is really late.]

Experience/Expectations: Back in the days when I lived in my parents basement I was bored one night and decided to watch T.V. As I was flipping through the channels there was a movie coming on called "Tales From The Crypt" (1972). "But wait," thought the right side of my brain, "'Tales From The Crypt' was a T.V. show from the '80's to '90's with that creepy guy that looks like the mummified remains of Gollum from 'The Lord of the Ring'."
"That's right," replied the left side of my brain "and both that show and this film are based on the controversial EC comic books by William Gaines that were published in the 1950's."
"Oh!" said the right half of my brain, "Wanna watch?"
"Yeah sure," said the left half of my brain.

And so I watched "Tales from the Crypt".

Story: The movie begins with five random strangers exploring the catacombs of... Someone, when they take a wrong turn and find themselves in front of a strange man wearing a hood who reveals each person's story about how they ended up in the catacombs. It turns out that each person has done a sinful deed of some sort.

  1. The first story is about the only woman in the group named Joanna who kills her husband on Christmas Eve so she can inherit the money from his life insurance. She also has a daughter who is so excited about Santa she can't sleep. But while Joanna is trying to make it seem like her husband died from some accident, there is a report on the radio that there is a serial killer on the loose in her neighbor hood, wearing a Santa Claus Costume. Before you can say "Ho-ho-ho!" The Serial Killer is at Joanna's house trying to break in and kill her because... he knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake, and he knows if you murdered your husband for his insurance or not. Joanna is trapped because she can not call the police and tell them about the serial killer because then she would expose own crime as well. Joanna's story ends when she finds out that her daughter saw "Santa, and decided to let him in" THROUGH THE FRONT DOOR, and then Joanna is strangled to death by the Serial Killer (which tells us that all of the 5 strangers are dead, but it makes us want to know more about their stories). So then we meet Carl... O_O
  2. Carl is a man with a wife, child, and... a secret lover named Susan. In this story, Carl is running away with Susan in the hopes of starting a new life with her. He falls asleep in the car, while Susan drives the car, then suddenly wakes up from a nightmare. Susan then gets into an accident by driving off the road in order to avoid a truck coming at them. When Carl wakes up (this is all taking place in a POV shot) from the crash he tries to find Susan but she isn't in the burning car. He tries to hitch a ride, but the driver sees his face, gets scared, and drives away in a hurry. Carl then goes back to his old family that he was about to abandon, his wife answers the door, she get's scared too, and slams the door in his face. It turns out that she remarried too (which is strange considering that Carl just woke up from a car crash that was still on fire, but this does get explained later.) Then Carl goes to Susan's apartment to find out that she became blind from the car crash. She tells Carl that he died two years ago from the crash (again letting a car burn for two years is not good for the environment, nor is it an interesting tourist attraction but what ever, again this does get explained.) Carl looks at his reflection (screaming before he even sees himself) and it shows that he looks like a rotting corpse (that appears in a Michael Jackson music video.) Carl then WAKES UP IN THE CAR NEXT TO SUSAN BECAUSE THIS WAS A DREAM THE WHOLE TIME! So Carl is relieved but then a truck is about to crash into them and the crash sequence happens again. But this is when Carl's story ends...O_O... Moving on.
  3. The third story (and perhaps my favorite one of the 5) is about a man and his envy for an old man (played by Peter "The Great" Cushing) who spends his time with his dogs, playing and fixing toys for children, and communicating with his dead wife. The old man is Arthur Grimsdyke, and the snobbish bastard who hates such as sweetheart of an old man is James. James doesn't like Arthur because... he lives across the street from him and he makes little children smile and laugh, and is a dog lover, and lives in a broken-down house. So in an attempt to make Arthur leave, James gets rid of everything Arthur enjoyed doing. He has Arthur's dogs taken away, he gets Arthur fired from his job, he tells the mother's of the children that Arthur is a pedophile, but the worst thing he did was write a bunch of horrible Valentine's Day cards telling him to go kill himself:
    "Some live in the city,
    some live in the town,
    would you do us all a service,
    jump in a river and..."
    James and his father discover that Arthur killed himself, and were so kind enough to pay for the funeral. James feels like an asshole for an entire year, and on the night of Valentine's Day, Arthur rises from the grave to get revenge on James. The next morning Jame's father finds his son a great bloody mess (though to me it looks like some came in a splashed paint on his fabulous blue sweater and he died of shock.) Jame's father reads a note left on Jame's body that reads:
    "You were wicked and cruel right from the start,
    and now you really have no..."
    Jame's father opens up the rest of the message to find James' heart still beating... O_O HOLY CRAP THAT IS AWESOME (it was a cheesy, stupid special effect but IT WAS STILL AWESOME!!!!!!)
  4. The next story is definitely the weakest in the film, mainly because it's W.W. Jacob's "The Monkey's Paw", which don't get me wrong it's a great story and I highly recommend checking it out when ever you get the chance, but unlike the previous stories where it was pretty clear what the characters did was wrong, Ralph, a ruthless and evil British business man, is never seen doing anything wrong. He does mention that he made some shady business deals in the past in order to be the successful, evil British business man he is today, but when we meet him it is around the time when his ruthless evil British business man tactics failed him, and has to either declare bankruptcy or sell his possessions to pay off his debts (all of this is discussed with his lawyer/friend Charles, with boring dialogue but interesting camera work). Ralph tells his wife Enid about this and she immediately introduces us to a little Chinese figure that, even though Ralph and Enid had it for a while, have just realized that it has the power to grant the owner three wishes. Ralph is trying to remember a book he read when he was a boy called "The Monkey's Paw", but Enid who is very impulsive, WISHES FOR LOTS AND LOTS OF MONEY! Ralph tries to warn her that according to "The Monkey's Paw" she shouldn't have done that but oh well. Ralph then get's a call from Charles about money, and so Ralph goes to Charles's office where he is followed by a mysterious motorcyclist in a Halloween Mask. Charles learns that Ralph is dead and is forced to break the news to Enid (because he is a friend of the family, but I feel like it's too soon for him have gotten over the shock of learning that HIS BEST FRIEND IS DEAD). But in an attempt to cheer her up, Charles tells Enid that Ralph had a large life insurance policy so she is a very rich woman. (The camera at this time pans carefully in front of the Chinese figure with Enid and Charles in the background, just as Enid realizes that her wish for "lots and lots of money" may have caused the accident.) She's about to wish for Ralph back but before she does she asks Charles if he ever read "The Monkey's Paw". Charles seems very knowledgeable about this story as he tells Enid that she shouldn't wish Ralph alive because in the Monkey's Paw, the old couple who wished for their son to be alive again got their wish but in the horrible condition in which he died, AND in the same way, Ralph's body was horribly mangle from the car crash. So because Enid wants to be careful this time she wishes Ralph to be the way he was just before the accident. But that backfires when it turns out that Ralph died from a heart attack... Isn't that just frustrating... So now Enid has one wish left, and unlike an intelligent who would stop wishing on that damned thing, she wants to make one more wish. She wishes that Ralph was alive right now FOREVER AND THAT HE MAY NEVER DIE!!!!! So Ralph is alive, but because he has embalming fluid inside of him so he is in horrible pain. She tries to kill him (forgetting that she wished him alive forever), and it ends with her crying next to Ralph's body... Uh- The obvious solution would be to give the Chinese Figure to Charles so that he can wish that Ralph was dead and buried again, but that doesn't happen and we move on to a better story.
  5. The last story is about a retired army man named Major Rogers who becomes the director of a home for the blind. Major Rogers doesn't seem to be knowledgeable about anything not Army related and so he cuts off funding for blankets, food, heat, or anything that makes the blind feel comfortable, but is instead living in luxury with his dog Shane. Living for the poor blind men gets so bad that one of them actually dies because he was sick from the cold. The Blind then rebel against the oppression of Major Rogers and elaborately capture his dog Shane and kidnap Rogers himself. They force Rogers to be in a cell for days, while the Blind men make a death trap that would make even Jigsaw impressed. It involves a wall covered in razors, doors opening in the distance, and... BEING EATEN ALIVE BY HIS OWN DOG!!! The last shot of the story is of a Blind Man turning off a light so all we hear are the screams of horror of Major Rogers.

The very ending of the movie tells us that the strange hooded figure is the Crypt Keeper, and that he had brought them all to the crypt to be judged and sent to hell (a.k.a one of the worst green screens ever seen in cinema history.) And it ends with the line, "Who's next?... (Camera moves forward to a close up of his face, as he breaks the fourth wall) Perhaps you?"

Discussion: And so that is "Tales From The Crypt" the 1972 British film that I love so much! I'll admit that it is dated, the blood is clearly red paint, the special effect are cheesy and not the best but that's not why anyone should watch this movie. This movie has elements of a great Horror story, its well structured, it makes you want to know what's the next story's about, the acting is good, all the stories are actually really good in their own way, the cinematography is good (which is no surprise because this is directed by Freddie Francis, a man famous for his great cinematography winning 2 OscarsĀ® for his camera work for "Glory" and "Sons and Lovers"), it's just overall a good textbook film for making horror movies. This film did have a sequel called "Vault of Horror" (another EC comic by William Gaines that was the same deal but different title) but it's not as impressive. "Tales From The Crypt" is a great film to watch if you are interested in making horror films (short or long) and want to know how to use the branching structure successfully. It was because of this film, Stephen King and George A. Romero got together and made "Creepshow" another great horror film that uses the branching structure. The characters are well developed, and are clearly bad people, which is why it is satisfying to see them get what they deserve in an ironic twist of fate and misfortune. This why I think the film and the HBO television show (1989-1996) was so successful, because the stories used a similar formula of Character A being greedy, and commits a horrible deed, and that horrible deed comes back to be their down fall. I highly Recommend checking out this film, and the television show because both are very entertaining, twisted, dark, funny (sometimes, not as much with the movie), and just a classic British horror film that is just fun to watch.

Overall: I gave "Tales From the Crypt" a 9.2 out of 10.

What about you?

If you've seen "Tales From The Crypt" (1972) what did you think?

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    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 6 years ago

      Oh I've seen Robert Wise's "The Haunting" that was amazing, and I have heard of "Carnival of Lost Souls" but now I'll have to check that out. Thanks for the comment and suggestions and am glad you liked the hub :)

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 6 years ago

      Hi Carl the Critic - good to see the great Robwrite here - other film buffs you should check out are FLORA BREEN ROBISON and COGERSON - great review here of an older film I saw when it first came out - I would have been 14 years old - lol - and you certainly write with knowledge and passion - two films I would recommend to you in the horror/ghost genre are Robert Wise's The Haunting 1963 and an a film from the 60's called Carnival of Souls - both can be found on You Tube.

      lake erie time ontario canada 1:49pm

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 6 years ago

      Yes the show is very good, a little dated (things have changed since the 80s-90s) but yet timeless as far as the stories content was concerned. Thanks for stopping by Kelly, great to hear from ya :)

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Hi Carl - I heard bout you from Sunshine up there:) great hub! I used to watch this show - I think it was on every Saturday night...loved it! It wasn't scary but back then it was pretty good:) lol. Seems so dated now - but all my friends watched it too.

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 6 years ago

      Yup, not scary but twisted :)

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I used to watch the TV show! You are correct it wasn't scary! :)

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 6 years ago

      At least not as good as they used to. They were all very awesome :) Thanks for commenting somnambulist876.

    • somnambulist876 profile image

      somnambulist876 6 years ago from Lancaster, PA

      Nice review Carl. I've always liked the old Amicus horror anthologies like Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, The House that Dripped Blood, Asylum, and Dr.Terror's House of Horror. I always been a fan anthologies in general, bu they don't make many of them any more.

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 6 years ago

      Hey Rob, thanks for stopping by, yes she is the Christmas Segment, that one's a good one. Robert Zemeckis directed the "Tales From The Crypt" television show version of it and it became one of the very first episodes. Thanks again for your comment, it's always good to hear from ya :)

    • Robwrite profile image

      Rob 6 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

      Hi Carl; I haven't seen this film in years. Frankly, the only segment I remember clearly was the Joan Collins scenes. Your review makes me want to watch it again.


    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 6 years ago

      @icountthetimes: Thanks for the comment and yes this one is definitely worth checking out :)

      @FatFreddy'sCat: "Vault of Horror" I felt was not as good as "Tales From The Crypt", it was not as well shot, the stories were less interesting, and the actors didn't really care about their role as much. But that's just my opinion, and I'm glad you enjoy both films. Thanks for the comment as always :)

      @gail641: The Crypt Keeper from the TV show was very funny, and I agree with you about the characters getting what they deserve in the end. Thanks for the comment :)

    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 6 years ago from Mason City

      I'm sure that I saw the movie and I thought that it was good. It was great to see what happened to the characters in the movie that did the bad deeds and ended up paying for them afterward. I remember the crypt keeper-he was sure funny!

    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 6 years ago from The Garden State

      Good flick. I haven't seen it in ages, but the companion sequel "Vault Of Horror" (made by the same producers, in the same format, also based on EC Comics stories) was on Fox Movie Channel around Halloween time and I enjoyed that.

      If memory serves, the "Santa Claus" story in this film was also adapted in an episode of the HBO "Tales from the Crypt" series years later.

    • profile image

      icountthetimes 6 years ago

      I saw the Tales From the Crypt movie from about ten years back or so and enjoyed that, so this one might be worth checking out too. Anything horror movie related is quite appealing to me lately.