From Beyond the Grave (film, 2007)
A DVD review from Death Ray 08.
Film: THREE AND A HALF STARS Extras: ONE STAR
1973/ 97mins /15 • £13.99
Director: Kevin Connor
Writer: R Chetwynd-Hayes, Raymond Christodolou, Robin Clarke
Starring: Peter Cushing, Ian Ogilvy. Donald Pleasence, Diana Dors, David Warner, Ian Bannen
Solid 1970s portmanteau horror from the Amicus stable
Peter Cushing was known for his stern characters, but In From Beyond the Grave, his eyes twinkle with mischief as he lays on a cod Yorkshire accent to play a camel-coated antiques dealer. And believe me, you wouldn’t want to buy anything off him.
Four unwary chumps do in the film’s quartet of short stories. In ‘The Gate Crasher’ David Warner bags a mirror for a tenth of its real value by lying, only to discover it houses a malevolent spirit demanding blood. ‘An Act of Kindness’ has Ian Bannen steal a medal so he can pretend he was decorated in the war, as a result becoming involved with Donald Pleasence’s war veteran and his witchy daughter (played by Pleasence’s real offspring), to his ultimate detriment. Ian Carmichael swaps the price labels between snuff boxes in ‘The Elemental’ (do you get the picture yet?) and is thus possessed by an evil spirit. ‘The Door’ has Ian Ogilvy purchasing an antique door for his stationary cupboard honestly, yet even he is burdened with a bothersome 17th century ghoul popping out of a spooky room that intermittently appears in place of his foolscap.
Cushing’s amusing turn aside, the framing device in From Beyond… is a bit stretched, but that does not detract from the strength of Chetwynd Hayes’ stories. Fans of portmanteau films will find much to enjoy here. The direction, sets and performances are of a consistently high quality, with good twists to each tale. Margaret Leighton, in one of her final roles, amuses as Madame Orloff in ‘The Elemental’, while the design and destruction of the room in ‘The Door’ remain impressive. Low shock value by today’s standards, but still pleasantly creepy.
The picture is well worth a mention. The print is so crisp that at times you think you’re watching a modern period drama rather than a 34-year-old flick, though sound levels are low and mono-tinny.
Extras: The original trailer for the film. Not much, but its faded nature highlights even more just how glorious the main feature’s picture is.
Did you know?
Ronald Chetwynd Hayes was a big name in horror in the latter part of the 20th century. Born in 1919, his first published novel was The Man from the Bomb (1959). Another bunch of his stories were adapted in 1980’s The Monster Club, where Chetwynd-Hayes was played by David Carradine.