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From Beyond The Grave (DVD)

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Genre: Crime & Thriller - Thriller / Theatrical Release: 1973 / Director: Kevin Connor / Actors: Wendy Allnutt, Rosalind Ayres ... / DVD released 15 October, 2007 at Warner Home Video / Features of the DVD: PAL

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

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      25.07.2013 01:00
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      They don't make them like that any more!

      RELEASED: 1973, Cert. X

      RUNNING TIME: Approx. 97 mins

      DIRECTOR: Kevin Connor

      PRODUCERS: Max Rosenberg & Milton Subotsky

      SCREENPLAY: Raymond Christodoulou & Robin Clarke

      MUSIC: Douglas Gamley

      STARRING: Peter Cushing, Ian Bannen, Ian Carmichael, Margaret Leighton, Donald Pleasence, Diana Dors, Angela Pleasence, Ian Ogilvy, Nyree Dawn Porter, Lesley-Anne Down and others

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      FILM ONLY REVIEW

      From Beyond The Grave is one of those classic 1970s horror films based on the Hammer style but issued by Warner Brothers, which comprises four stories put together as one film. Horror writer R Chetwynd-Hayes penned the original stories, with those mentioned in the credits above being responsible for their adaptation into screenplay format.

      I first saw Beyond The Grave at the cinema back in 1973 when it was doing the rounds, yet when I settled to see it recently, wasn't sure which it was of the many films I saw of this nature at about the same time. As soon as I began to watch, it all came flooding back to me, and I remembered that I'd also seen it on TV during the 1980s.

      The initial setting is in a dusty old antiques shop in London, run by a character whose name the viewer never learns, but the part is played superbly by Peter Cushing. The atmosphere inside of the antiques shop is very reminiscent of a cluttered little store down an almost forgotten back street, crowded out with various relics which are on display. The shop owner is a little mysterious, laid-back and seemingly a bit out of touch with the rest of the world, but time proves that this strange man doesn't miss a trick.

      The first story, The Gatecrasher, begins when a man enters the antiques shop. He sees a mirror he likes the look of, then succeeds in convincing the shop owner that it is a reproduction and not the real thing, hence buying it at a very much reduced price. The man takes the mirror home, quickly discovering something odd about it in that a weird face appears in it every so often, making some unusual demands. When a social evening with some of the man's friends turns into them holding a séance, the strange character in the mirror makes his presence felt in a way which I can only describe as hostile.

      Some of the acting in The Gatecrasher is a little hammy, but a nicely creepy atmosphere is created as the character in the mirror really turns the man's life totally upside-down.

      In the second story, An Act Of Kindness, Christopher Lowe (played by the wonderful Ian Bannen), lives with his wife Mabel (played by the equally wonderful Diana Dors) and young son. Christopher is a dapper, ex-military man who can't seem to do anything right when it comes to pleasing the nagging harridan Mabel. Christopher strikes up a friendship with Jim (played by Donald Pleasence), who sells shoelaces and matchsticks from a suitcase on a street corner. Meanwhile, Christopher visits the old antiques shop and spots a medal which he wants to buy, in the hopes of impressing Jim by pretending it to be his own. However, the antiques shop owner refuses to sell the medal to Christopher without a certificate of proof of army service, so he steals it when he thinks he can't be seen. Christopher then becomes a regular visitor to Jim's house, enjoying tea with home-made meals and cakes produced by Emily, Jim's rather weird daughter....who has a special surprise awaiting Christopher.

      An Act Of Kindness is probably, overall, my favourite of the quartet of stories and I feel for the most part, contains the best acting. Diana Dors delivers spot-on with what she became so good at during her later years, that being the blowsy, antagonistic, borderline sluttish bored housewife. Ian Bannen plays the part of the downtrodden, somewhat inadequate Christopher perfectly. Jim and Emily were fairly well played by Donald and Angela Pleasence, and this story from the bunch has a wonderful twist at the end.

      The third story, The Elemental, has its ups and downs. Reggie Warren (played by Ian Carmichael) is a stiff upper lip type city gent....of the type you just don't see these days....who visits the antiques shop. He spots two snuff boxes, one of which takes his fancy. On opening both boxes, he notices that the price ticket inside the one he likes best is £45 higher than the other, so believing the shop proprietor can't see him, he switches the price tags around. Relieved that he got away with his deceit and walking out of the shop clutching his newly purchased snuff box, Reggie takes the train home. The peace of his journey is shattered by a seemingly loopy woman who introduces herself as Madam Orloff (wonderfully played by Margaret Leighton). Madam O informs Reggie that she is a psychic, and that he has an 'elemental' on his shoulder. Completely disregarding Reggie's efforts at fending her off, Madam O shoves her business card into his hand just as he disembarks the train at his station. Once home, Reggie is startled that his dog appears to be scared of him, and his wife claims that he has both hit and scratched her...him remembering neither of these things. When the tensions rise between Reggie and his wife as his supposed attacks upon her escalate, he reaches for Madam O's card and asks her to come round and help.

      The Elemental is my second favourite from this bunch of stories, nudging up very closely on the preference scale to An Act Of Kindness. The character of Madam Orloff is deliciously eccentric, with Margaret Leighton playing the part perfectly. There is a strong thread of humour running through this little story, although I do find the ending just a touch unsatisfactory. It isn't a predictable ending as such....more that I felt it could have been put across in a more chilling manner. However, the delightfully loopy Madam Orloff gives this section of the film a huge injection of sparkle.

      The final story in this quartet is my least favourite, called The Door. William Seaton (played by Ian Ogilvy) visits the poky little antiques shop, having spotted a grotesque old door that he likes the look of. After having beaten down the strange little shop owner's price, William buys the door. When the door is delivered, William instructs the delivery men to fix it up in front of a stationary cupboard in the living-room. Before long, William discovers that on opening the old door, there sometimes is something different on the other side of it to shelves containing packs of A4 paper, staplers, hole punchers etc.

      Ian Ogilvy plays the part of William Seaton quite well, but I find this final story in the series to be comparatively tedious. A lot of special effects are used which perhaps for 1973 were moderately good, but they are almost laughable by today's standards. Although it had to be pretty much the same length as the other three stories, this one feels as if it is very rushed....also with the horror element being too far off the mark for my liking, and seems to lack a certain finesse that the preceding three tales have.

      After the four main stories are over, there is a reprise back to the antiques shop, with a delicious little incident that closes the film down altogether.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      From Beyond The Grave definitely screams early 1970s at me, yet it is a film which I feel should be left in that era, as it is a piece of cinematic history which is very much of its time.....so please all you modern-day directors, I beg you not to tamper with it. Most of my feelings about this film are subjective, it being highly atmospheric of what was going on in my life at the time - things which to list, would be meaningless to anybody else.

      I do recall seeing From Beyond The Grave on TV as part of Channel IV's Hammer House Of Horror series (although this isn't a Hammer film in itself, I believe the company did have something to do with it). On that occasion, which would have been in about 1984-ish, I saw the film whilst under the influence of something that I perhaps shouldn't have been....and, the result was that I found it extremely scary. However, before then and these days, with my mind un-fogged and clear from the old THC (look it up!!!), this film comes across to me as a light-hearted horror which although it does contain violence, has a reassuring effect on me as being reminiscent of the days when the knife going into human flesh was merely hinted at, rather than being shown in its full glory (or should I say 'gory'??) as would be par for the course nowadays.

      I really enjoyed watching From Beyond The Grave again recently so very much, that I've earmarked it with the intention of indulging myself once more in the not too distant future. OK, the special effects are tacky, some of the acting (apart from Peter Cushing and those others I've expressed admiration towards above) leaves a lot to be desired, and the final story could do with scrapping altogether with something better replacing it, but the whole thing collectively is a very watchable, highly entertaining, slightly tongue-in-cheek piece of early 1970s borderline tack that I strongly recommend to anybody who may be interested in watching it.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      At the time of writing, From Beyond The Grave can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-

      New: from £22.70 to £43.24
      Used: from £18.64 to £25.99

      Some items on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.

      Thanks for reading!

      ~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~

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        01.11.2011 11:53
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        A classic Amicus film.

        As it was Hallowe'en last night, my fiancé and I decided to watch an old horror film. I own several on DVD which I haven't yet got round to seeing, so we chose From Beyond The Grave, which is an Amicus Production from 1973. It is rated a 15 and is 94 minutes long. My fiancé remembered watching this on television when he was about eight years old and said he had found it very scary at that age.

        Amicus specialise in horror anthologies and this is one of those. This was the seventh and final anthology from Amicus and features five little stories linked together by a common theme. From Beyond The Grave begins each tale at Temptations Ltd., a little dark shop of curios down a side street. It has an array of various items - scary looking heads, stuffed animals, antiques, old war medals and trinkets - and is run by a frail-looking elderly man (played by Peter Cushing). He sells something to customers and if they try to con him, they receive some kind of supernatural punishment.

        The cast list in this film is incredibly impressive. Besides the great Cushing, we have such stars as Ian Carmichael, Ian Ogilvy, Ian Bannen and even some people who aren't called Ian - Diana Dors, Donald Pleasence, Nyree Dawn Porter, Lesley Anne Down and David Warner. You can even spot a young Helen Fraser (who later went on to play the formidable Sylvia Hollamby in Bad Girls) and Tommy Godfrey (Sid in Mind Your Language). I always enjoy watching Peter Cushing in action and he is very good in this role, putting on a regional accent instead of his usual RP, and his performance is both haunting and charming in equal measure. I was also looking forward to watching Diana Dors (who is one of my favourite actresses) and David Warner (who I have met twice at Doctor Who conventions).

        David Warner plays the lead in the first segment The Gate Crasher, where his character Edward Charlton cons the shop owner by buying an antique mirror for much less than it is worth. He has some friends over one evening and shows them his new purchase, then they decide to conduct a séance, trying to summon a spirit from the dead. As one appears, Edward's life will never be the same again...

        The second segment is called An Act of Kindness and here we get to see two households - a married couple Christopher and Mabel Lowe (Ian Bannen and Diana Dors) who live with their son and a beggar Jim Underwood (Donald Pleasence) who lives with his grown up daughter Emily (played by Donald's real-life daughter Angela). The Lowes are constantly bickering and seem unhappy in their relationship, while the poorer Underwoods seem strangely content. But are things as they seem? And what will happen when Christopher is left alone with Emily?

        The third segment provides some comic relief after the first two darker stories. It is called The Elemental and tells us the tale of Reginald Warren (Ian Carmichael) who visits Temptations Ltd. and buys a snuff box, after swapping round the price tags so as to pay less for it. Later on that day, he is sat on the train when a loud and eccentric woman informs him he has an elemental on his shoulder, a kind of evil spirit. He dismisses her, but later on, he returns home to his wife Susan (Nyree Dawn Porter) and strange, violent things begin to happen. He rings the eccentric woman, Madame Orloff (played by Margaret Leighton, in what is a fantastic part!) to come to his house and help him get rid of the elemental.

        The fourth segment is called The Door and tells the story of William Seaton (played by Ian Ogilvy) who enters the fated shop, purchasing an antique and ornate looking door to go in his house. When he takes it home to his wife Rosemary (played by Lesley Anne Down, who I shall always think of as Phyllis Dixey!), they discover it has supernatural powers and a history which refuses to stay locked in the past.

        The final part of the film follows a would-be burglar who has been hanging around in the alley near the shop, waiting for an opportunity to strike. After all, it's a shop with a wealth of antiques and treasures inside and just guarded by one old bloke, who is frail and weak and would surely be easy to overpower. But would he...?

        Both of us really enjoyed the film and each little story is interesting and well acted. The special effects are good and for me, the balance between suspense and horror was exactly right. I didn't find the tales too predictable and although they were violent, this was also done well and without too much gore (though lots of blood). The cast is outstanding and if you are a fan of this kind of film, you'll love it!

        I bought the DVD from Amazon UK last year and it now costs £4.47, so it is a bargain price too. It is also known by other titles - The Creatures, The Undead, Tales From Beyond the Grave and Tales From The Beyond. The DVD has no extras but there are subtitles in several languages.

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          24.01.2011 08:50
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          A classy horror anthology

          A review of the Warner DVD which costs £3 on amazon.

          Film company Amicus was Hammer's main rival in the 60s/70s British horror stakes. Their stock in trade was the anthology movie, in which a framing narrative would link four or five otherwise unrelated horror stories. While they're often stodgy and oddly low on horror, there are a couple of gems in among them, and any one of the films is likely to have at least one episode worth watching. The beauty of the format is that none of the stories stick around for long enough to get boring or annoying, and because they only required actors for a few days, they could generally afford to have quite good casts, certainly in comparison to Hammer.

          Released in 1973, this was the last of the Amicus horror anthologies, and it's one of the strongest. In this case, the central framing narrative involves an antique shop of doom!

          Peter Cushing runs a ramshackle shop full of junk. He is ripped off or robbed by four character actors, who then have nasty experiences with the things they bought/stole. This is stronger than the usual Amicus style, in which people retrospectively tell their tales so we can guess well in advance that they're all dead already (or whatever the limp final 'twist' is). It's odd, though - although you'd expect the experiences that befall the characters to be punishment for their crimes against Cushing, two of them buy evil magic items that presumably would have done bad things anyway; and one is involved in events that have no bearing on his purchase and, again, would have happened anyway. It's easier to see it as just a generally evil shop rather than some kind of arbiter of morality.

          Cushing himself gives a diverting performance, managing to be sly and sinister without venturing too far from his familiar doddery old man routine. What possessed him to try a Yorkshire accent, though? He sounds ridiculous.

          The stories are all adapted from horror writer R Chetwynd-Hayes, who I've never read. They're all decent, creepy fare. The first, 'The Gate-Crasher', involves a smart man about town who buys an antique mirror from Cushing at a knock-down price. During an ill-advised séance with his chums he activates some kind of evil force behind the mirror which compels him to go out and kill prostitutes. This is good, nasty stuff - spooky mirrors are always a potent source of horror (although seeing a shabby looking character with a beard in the mirror is a horror I face every morning). It doesn't play up the ambiguity of the situation - is the man in the mirror real, or is it all happening in the main character's head? - but manages to be absorbing and has the unpleasant ambience of the British serial killer about it. David Warner, a great character actor, is on fine form as the guy who buys the mirror.

          The second story, 'An Act of Kindness', is the best. Downtrodden husband Christopher befriends a matchseller who used to be in the army. Stealing a medal from Cushing's shop to impress his new chum, Christopher soon finds himself having dinner regularly with the matchseller and his oddly sexy but utterly weird-looking daughter. Reluctantly and awkwardly at first, he soon finds he has options he never dreamed of - can he escape his loveless marriage, or is there more to all this than meets the eye?

          This is terrific stuff, having a real 'kitchen sink' feel, at times becoming almost Pinteresque. Ian Bannen, one of my favourite actors, is great as Christopher, twitchy and bumbling and full of pent-up frustration. Diana Dors does her patented battleaxe stuff as his wife. Best of all are real-life father and daughter Donald and Angela Pleasence, who give immaculately creepy performances as Bannen's would-be saviours, and who look unnervingly alike. The story's pay-off is a bit lacklustre, but otherwise this is great.

          The third story is the weakest. 'The Elemental' sees a wealthy stockbroker type rip Cushing off over the sale of a snuff box. A helpful medium tells him he has a malignant elemental on his shoulder, and although he initially scoffs, he realises something is dreadfully wrong when his dog runs off and an invisible creature tries to strangle his wife. The problem with this isn't the story, which could be very unsettling; it's the fact that they opt to play it as comedy (which is particularly inappropriate given what happens). Ian Carmichael gives a whimsical performance as the stockbroker, while Margaret Leighton goes over the top in a deeply tiresome way as the medium. Only Nyree Dawn Porter as the unfortunate wife seems to be taking things seriously, and even she is undermined by the slapstick exorcism sequence. A wasted opportunity.

          The final story is better. 'The Door' sees a young writer buy an ornate door, which he sticks on his stationery cupboard. But he finds that it sometimes opens, not into a cupboard, but into a sinister blue room, wreathed in cobwebs, and containing a sinister portrait. His wife is initially sceptical, but soon finds herself in mortal danger. This is a great idea for a story (although perhaps a bit too similar to the magic mirror idea), and builds to an appropriately overwrought climax with a decently scary ghost. It feels like a pastiche of a Roger Corman Edgar Allan Poe adaptation, which typically feature strongly coloured rooms and sinister portraits. Ian Ogilvy and Lesley Anne-Down are the very early-70s stars, and are likeable enough for you to root for (in stark contrast to most of the other characters in the film).

          The direction, by Kevin Connor, who later did kiddy adventure movies like Warlords of Atlantis and Arabian Adventure, is very good indeed. There's a great visual flair to the film, with a nice line in semi-distorted close-ups. It's helped immensely by good set design, not just in the spooky blue room, but in Christopher's pokey family home in the second story, and the awful chintz-and-kitsch cottage in the third. These films were generally directed without flair by people like Freddie Francis, and this rather stands out by not coasting on the quality of the stories and the acting.

          The only real criticism, apart from the third story, is that the pacing is a bit off. The first two stories both feel perhaps a couple of minutes too long, the last a bit too short. The film ends with a rather daft burglary sequence that could perhaps have been cut, but it provides a grimly comic coda. These anthologies didn't really survive the 70s (although there have been occasional attempts to do them since, most notably Stephen King and George Romero's Creepshow). I guess TV by the mid-70s wasn't so bound by censorship, so these kinds of films were replaced by TV shows like Tales of the Unexpected or Hammer House of Horror.

          The picture quality on the DVD is fine and dandy. The only extra I could find (the navigation is abominable) is an excited American trailer which gives away most of the good bits.

          For the price this is well worth getting. It's not a towering classic, but it should keep you entertained and maybe just a little bit scared for most of its ninety minutes.

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            15.06.2010 12:27
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            This fill really does have some shocking moments . If you're a fan of hammer, you'll like this

            This is a pretty unnerving film to be fair. I'm sure everyone has heard of the Hammer Horrors of the 50's, 60's and 70's. But it's worth noting that Hammer Studios were not the only British studio at that time who were making horrors. It's just that Hammer horror became the sweeping generalization for all horrors out at the time. This one was actually made by a company called Amicus. In keeping with several Amicus film ideas, this film has one central protagonist that sets up several storylines within the film. In this film, there are five stories, all set up by a man in an antiques store. It stars Horror King Peter Cushing, along with David Warner, Donald Pleasence, Ian Bannen and Ian Carmichael with some others.

            The film starts in an antiques store run by a mysterious man with no name (Peter Cushing). He sells the antiques, and with each antique there is a nasty surprise, especially when the dealer is cheated out of his money.

            The Gatecrasher - A man called Edward (David Warner) walks into the store and sees an antique mirror. He lies to the Proprietor and claims the mirror is a fake, offering just £25 instead of the asking price of £250. The Proprietor sells it to him. Edward takes the mirror home. But after he holds a seance, something starts to happen, and the mirror seems to come to life.

            An Act of Kindness - Christopher Lowe (Ian Bannen) is a very frustrated middle aged man who is stick in a loveless marriage. In loneliness, he befriends an old soldier. Christopher claims to be a soldier, and visits the antique shop, stealing a medal. Soon, he goes to old soldier's house and meets his daughter. But it quickly becomes apparent that the old soldier and his daughter have their own plan for Christopher and his wife.

            The Elemental - Reggie is a businessman who enters the antiques store looking for snuff boxes. He finds one that he likes, but isn't happy with the price. So he secretly changes the price and the Proprietor sells him it. On the train home, a medium tells him that there is a demon living on him, and he will need help. At first, he doesn't believe it, but after some bizarre incidents, he calls upon the medium to help.

            The Door - A man comes into the shop and sees an old door. He buys it and has it installed in his study. But he becomes intrigued more and more by the door. One day he opens it and there is a blue room beyond. But what is the blue room?

            The final climax is set in the shop, when a man comes in to try and rob the Proprietor. But he doesn't reckon the the Proprietor's shop.

            This is actually a pretty decent horror. Though it's in the same style as Hammer and has its over the top moments and some dated special effects, there is enough horror and enough shock here to keep you glued to the screen in each of the segments and the final climax.

            The acting is actually pretty good because of the cast. Peter Cushing puts in an outstanding performance as the mysterious Proprietor, and he has brilliant support from David Warner, Ian Bannen and Donald Pleasence.

            Though it's not in the league of The Shining or a film like that, this is still a very good attempt and has some spooky moments.

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              15.08.2009 16:05
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              Late night horror fun

              From Beyond the Grave is a 1973 British compendium horror film from Amicus Productions directed by Kevin Connor from stories by R Chetwynd-Hayes. The film is much in the vein of other Amicus anthologies like Dr Terror's House of Horrors and Tales From the Crypt and features four spooky tales all linked by a framing device. The framing device here, always a fun component of these films, features the great Peter Cushing as the enigmatic old owner of Temptations Ltd, a dusty antiques shop - motto: Offers You Cannot Resist - in a small, foggy, anachronistic London backstreet. Cushing, with flat cap, pipe and Northern accent, promises a surprise with every purchase. This is certainly the case for those customers who attempt to cheat him out of some money or half-inch something because this antiques shop is not all that it seems...

              The first story is called The Gatecrasher and features David Warner and some extraordinary cravats as Edward Charlton. The somewhat smug Edward makes a big mistake when he swindles Cushing out of some money in Tempations Ltd by by pretending an antique mirror is a reproduction and attaining this item at a bargain price. Once back in his groovy bachelor pad Edward gradually realises that there is something very strange about this mirror after his friends badger him into holding a seance. In fact, the mirror may contain the spirit of a very nasty character indeed and he's eager to make his presence felt. The Gatecrasher is an atmospheric and enjoyable segment obviously lifted from similar spooky mirror shenanigans with Googie Withers and Ralph Michael in the 1945 Ealing classic Dead of Night. Weird fog and strange faces appearing in mirrors are always quite creepy and this episode is very enjoyable on the whole as Edward's life is slowly turned upside down. The direction is quite good in this one too with Warner's dodgy flat antics and neighbours wondering what is going on reminding me of that classic Hitchcock film Frenzy a little at times and I love the spooky seance with candlelight and the camera panning past the faces of Edward's friends. There is a nice inventive sequence too where the passage of time is highlighted by a quick montage of the flat and its changing decor and residents. Another plus is the presence of David Warner, an actor who is always good value and fully committed to whatever nonsense his agent has put him in. There is a nice final twist also in The Gatecrasher which wraps things up very neatly in suitably spooky fashion.

              The second story is called An Act of Kindness and features Ian Bannen as Christopher Lowe, a timid and henpecked husband stuck in a boring office job and married to Mabel, played by Diana Dors in full late career battleaxe mode. Considered a joke at home by Mabel and his son, Lowe befriends threadbare matchbox street vendor and old soldier Jim Underwood (Donald Pleasance) who he passes by on the way to and from work. Lowe comes to enjoy the fact that Jim salutes him and calls him Sir, affording him the respect he never gets at home and, browsing in Temptations Ltd, he tries to buy a Distinguished Service Medal to impress the old soldier. But Cushing's crusty old shop owner wants the certificate to prove Lowe really was with Monty's lot as he claims and a decorated war hero so Lowe steals it when his back is turned. Impressed by the medal, Jim invites Lowe home to dinner where he is soon a regular guest and involved in a relationship with Jim's rather creepy young daughter Emily (Angela Pleasence). An Act of Kindness is another decent segment featuring a wonderfully uptight performance by Ian Bannen as the frustrated Lowe. His dinner table scenes with Diana Dors are very funny as Dors slams his tea on the table and generally lets him know she thinks he's a complete idiot. Another plus is of course Donald Pleasence as the deferential old soldier. The thing that makes this segment work, in addition to the enjoyable cast, is the nature of the mystery that unravels. You genuinely have no idea what is going to unfold and why Jim is being so kind and generous to Lowe beyond the fact that he claims to have been in the army. Angela Pleasence is well cast too as Jim's rather odd and mysterious daughter.

              The third story lightens the tone slightly and is called The Elemental. It features Ian Carmichael as Reggie Warren, a very posh bowler hat and umbrella businessman. The pompous Reggie makes a big mistake when he assumes Cushing's antiques proprietor is a doddering old fossil who can barely remember his own name and switches some price tags in Temptations Ltd to get an antique snuff box on the cheap. "I hope you enjoy snuffing it," says Cushing. On the way home in the train Reggie is bothered in his compartment by an annoying and rather theatrical woman called Madame Orloff (Margaret Leighton) who tells him he has an 'Elemental' on his shoulder. Reggie of course assumes this woman is mad and goes back to his paper to see what the Test Match score is or something but once home in his unfeasibly gigantic country house with wife Susan (Nyree Dawn Porter) strange things soon start to happen. The Elemental is a more frivolous tale than the first two with comic elements but still provides a few chills ultimately and the idea of an invisible demon/ghost sitting on your shoulder is quite a creepy one. Ian Carmichael is fun as the disconcertingly upper-class commuter with a house like an Embassy and Margaret Leighton chews up the scenery and spits it out with a ridiculously broad and over the top performance as Madame Orloff that skirts past flamboyant and enters the realm of completely bonkers. Not my favourite segment on offer here but not bad and not without its charms.

              The final story is called The Door and stars a suave young Ian Ogilvy, one of the best James Bonds we never had but I digress, as William Seaton. Seaton purchases an ancient ornate door from Temptations Ltd - although we are not quite allowed to see if he ripped off Peter Cushing's spooky Lovejoy or not. Once home Seaton and lovely wife Rosemary (Lesley-Anne Down) find themselves becoming entranced by the door and although they've used it as the entrance to their stationary cupboard, it seems to open into a very mysterious blue room rather than, you know, pencils and, er, rulers and things. A decent segment although not that scary and lacking the theatrical blood that occasionally flows in some of the other stories. The design is quite atmospheric though. This is a fairly decent if straightforward ghostly tale and Ogilvy is earnest enough as the haunted door capers escalate.

              We then go back to Peter Cushing and the antiques shop for an enjoyable final scene. "The love of money is the root of all evil," he laments sadly. From Beyond the Grave is a lot of fun overall. The film is well directed and you are kept guessing here and there as to how these tales will resolve themselves. The cast is fun, especially Cushing who is wonderful as the bushy eyebrowed shop owner. I particularly like his little looks and comments to himself when some shady looking character takes a browse in his shop - "Naughty, shouldn't have done that." Most of all though, From Beyond the Grave presents more slightly camp and very British seventies compendium horror antics in the best Amicus tradition.

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            • Product Details

              From Beyond the Grave is an anthology film adapted from four short stories by R. Chetwynd-Hayes, strung together under the pretext of an antique dealer who owns a shop called Temptations Ltd. and the fate that befalls his customers who try to cheat him. First up is "The Gate Crasher" with David Warner who frees an evil entity from an antique mirror; then "An Act of Kindness" featuring Donald Pleasence; followed by "The Elemental;" and "The Door." From Beyond The Grave was the directorial debut of Kevin Connor who would go onto become a modest name in genre cinema. It was actually one of Connor’s best films and he demonstrates exceptional directorial style. Particularly good are the seance scenes in the first episode where Connor conducts some inventive 360-degree pan shots with a candle that explodes between a flickering flame and a jet in the foreground. The murders in this segment are vividly staged, with Connor creating some marvelously sinister images of David Warner standing about in bloodstained clothes and a totally wrecked apartment. --Sally Giles