Tales from the Crypt was one of the series of very successful horror anthology films made by Amicus Studios in Britain the late 60s and early 70s. This one follows the same basic formula as the others. For my money the best of all the Amicus movies is Asylum, which has a genuinely clever framing story that is just as interesting as the individual segments.
Tales from the Crypt on the other hand boasts a particularly feeble framing story. With one of the best horror directors in Britain at the helm, and some of the country’s finest and most outrageous hams in the cast, this should have been a lot of fun. Somehow it doesn’t quite make it. The individual stories themselves are (with one exception) really too short, and they just don’t go anywhere. Milton Subotsky’s script is rather predictable, and lacks any real imagination.
The first story, with Joan Collins and a murderous Santa Claus, has promise but it’s much too short. The next three stories are all fairly pointless, with Reflection of Death being a complete waste of time. Things finally start looking up with the final instalment, Blind Alleys. A cruel army officer takes over a home for the blind, and ruthlessly exploits the inmates, who are driven to a horrific act of revenge. This story gives Freddie Francis the chance to show what he can do in the way of visual horror, and he produces a superb set-piece involving razor blades and a ravenous dog. It’s genuinely chilling, and it benefits from Patrick Magee doing some of the most gloriously over-the-top scenery-chewing you’ll ever see in a horror movie, or any other kind of movie for that matter. This story is almost good enough to redeem the whole movie.
Overall, Tales from the Crypt is reasonably entertaining if a little flat. Worth a rental, not perhaps not worth buying.
On a slightly different note, I’ve now seen Joan Collins in a couple of 1970s horror movies, and I have a shocking confession to make. I rather like her. She’s a mediocre actress, but she has undeniable presence and she’s fun and she has an instinctive understanding of camp, and it’s not as if she ever pretended to be a great actress.