Sunday, 9 September 2012

5 Horror Film Anthologies

The horror anthology has been around forever.  It usually consists of 3 or more stories and have a central story that the stories are loosely based around but not always.  This allows the director or directors to showcase different areas of storytelling and sometimes gives them a wider birth but in a shorter time frame.

Here are 5 Horror Film Anthologies:

5. Dead of Night (1945) - Walter Craig arrives at a farmhouse in the country to talk to the owner about renovations, when he discover a group of people inside the house, who he hasn't met before but have all been in his dreams.  The group finds it fascinating except for the psychiatrist who tries to explain these feelings and tries to come up with a rational explanation.  Each person then tells a tale of their own run in with the super natural, which the psychiatrist tries to discount until he gives up and tells one of his own. Throughout the stories Walter keeps trying to remember how his dream ends and warns the group that it doesn't end well.  This is really great package of  horror tales.  They are pretty tame compared to today's standard but also have a certain charm to them.  There are 4 directors working on this anthology and the most notable actor here is Michale Redgrave, who stars in the Ventriloquist story.  The ending is brilliant and is the real reason why I would recommend the film.

4. Tales of Terror (1962) -  Roger Corman puts together a great package of Poe tales with Vincent Price appearing in all three stories.  In "Morella", Price plays an estranged father whose daughter comes home after 26 years to tell him that she is dying.  He blames her for his wife death and he may not be the only one. In the 2nd segment,  "The Black Cat", Peter Lorre  takes the lead as, Montessor, a drunkard, who steal from his wife, spends his nights out and hates his wife's black cat.  After an evening of wine tasting, Montessor is brought home by Vincent Price's character, Luchresi and falls in love with Montessor's wife. After a bit of time Montessor finds out and imprisons Luchresi and his wife behind a wall in the basement but can he keep his secret hidden forever? In the final segment, "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar", Vincent Price plays a dying man named, Valdemar who has allowed a hypnotist, Carmichael, played by Basil Rathbone to perform an odd experiment on him.  Carmichael wants to hypnotize Valdemar before he dies and keep his consciousness alive while his body dies.  Although, his wife and doctor think this is a bad idea and get the heebie jeebies from Carmichael, they want whatever will make Valdemar happy.  The day Valdemar dies, the experiment works but Carmichael's, true nature is revealed and refuses to let Valdemars' spirit go unless he can marry Mrs. Valdemar! How can the doctor save her? These segments are great, even though Corman deviates in the "The Black Cat" and adds a bit of comedy. The fact is Peter Lorre is funny and adds a bit of dark humour to work that has been done before makes it great.  Vincent Price is excellent in all three pieces and Basil Rathbone is terrific as he takes off his Sherlock Holmes cap and becomes the villainous Carmichael.  Classic gothic Corman style and very enjoyable as most of his Poe translation are.
3. Black Sabbath (1963) -Mario Bava directs 3 chilling segments with Boris Karloff narrating introductory scenes to tie the movie together.  The 1st segment "A Drop of Water", a nurse is called to a house to prepare a body for burial.  While there she procures the dead woman's ring from her finger and puts it in her pocket.  She tips over a glass of water and is harassed by a fly.  She shoos the fly and goes home, unfortunately the ring isn't the only thing that has come home with her.  In the 2nd segment, "The Telephone", A young lady is harassed over the phone by a stalker that she believes to be her dead lover.  In the third segment, "The Wurdalak", Vladmir Drufe finds a body on the road with a knife stuck in it's chest.  He takes the knife as a souvenir and continues on his travels.  He stops at a house for shelter and learns that the knife belonged to their father, who has not been seen for the last five days.  The family are afraid that their father has become a Wurdalak or Vampire and will return home to feast on the family.  Shortly after, who shows up at the door, the father and it's Boris Karloff!  He tells the family that he's not a vampire but he did kill one and pulls a head out of his bag and asks them to put up on a spike. Aww dad you shouldn't have.  As the night goes on the father is acting strange and seems to have a hunger for more than just borsch.  It's a great collection of stories and I didn't realize Tolstoy wrote "The Wurdalak".  This is probably one of my favorite Bava films and two of the segments share the gothic feel of Black Sunday.  Karloff like Price, is a character unto himself and really shines as not just the host but as the vampire in the final segment.  Must see for horror fans and metal heads.
2. Asylum (1972) - Dr. Martin arrives at the mental asylum for an interview with Dr. B. Starr but finds out that Dr. B. Starr has recently lost his mind and is being held upstairs as a patient by his replacement Dr. Rutherford.  Dr. Rutherford offers Dr. Martin a challenge to find out which patient of the four upstairs is Dr. B. Starr and if he guesses right, he can have the job at the institution.  Dr. Martin agrees and heads up stairs where he meets with the attendant Max Reynolds, who brings him to each patient. First patient is Bonnie, who tells Dr. Martin her story of how her lover killed his wife, chopped her up and stuffed her in the freezer.  The wife then returned using voodoo and the outcome as left her in the asylum. The next segment is Bruno, who is a tailor by trade and he explains how he made a very mysterious suit for a very dangerous customer. After that Dr. Martin speaks with a young woman named Barbara, who admits to spending time in other institutions before and blames a woman named Lucy for her being returned to here.  She tells her story of how, she was home and Lucy came back into her life and only to disrupt it.  The last patient is Byron, who believes he can bring dolls to life using his life force and controlling them for his evil ways.  Can Dr. Martin size up the shoebox asylum and find out who really is Dr. B. Starr?  Directed by Roy Ward Baker, known for Quartermass and the Pit, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires and being the assistant director on The Lady Vanishes brings us this excellent anthology written by the author of Psycho, Robert Bloch.  Great cast, including Peter Cushing, Britt Eckland, Herbert Lom and Patrick Maggee. The stories are creepy, fun to watch and very inventive. Although, it may seem like a no brainer, the twist at the end is really quite good.  Excellent to watch, totally recommend it!
1. Creepshow (1982) - Stephen King and George Romero team up and create a fantastic series of segments inspired by the E.C comic books of the 1950's.  The movie begins with a boy, Billy (played by Stephen King's son, Joe) being punished for reading a horror comic. The comic is thrown in the trash and then each segment is tied together using animation of the book being blown around in the wind.  The first segment is "Father's Day", in which a family of 4 is waiting for their crazy Aunt Bedelia for their annual Father's Day supper. The mother explains to her daughter's husband (played by Ed Harris) that her father, Nathan Grantham was a terrible, abusive man and Aunt Bedelia was forced to take care of after his crippling accident.  After Aunt Bedelia's suitor was killed in a hunting accident and being verbally abused while making a Father's Day cake, she had enough and killed him.  The grandmother explains that is why they gather for Father's day there every year. We then see,  Aunt Bedelia stopping at the cemetery, she has a few belts of whiskey and tells the grave what a bastard he was.  She spills her drink and to her surprise Nathan pops up looking for his cake! Can she make it in time to warn the family or will Nathan get his revenge? In 2nd segemnt, "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" Stephen King plays a rube named Jordy Verill, who witnesses a meteor crash on his lawn.  He thinks about all the money he can get but when he reaches out to grab it, it's still to hot and the meteor singes his fingers.  He pours water on the meteor, it breaks in two and a disappointed Jordy pours the goo out of the meteor and returns home crushed.  As the night goes own, Jordy notices that weeds are growing everywhere, even on him and he needs to find a way to stop them!  In segment 3, "Something to Tide You Over" Richard Vicker's, played by Leslie Nielsen, confronts Harry Wentworth, played by Ted Danson about having an affair with his wife and brings him down to his ocean front property at gun point.  He then buries Harry up to his neck in the sand and tells him that his unfaithful wife is in the same predicament further down the beach.  Vicker's tells Harry that the tide will be coming in soon and he'll need to told his breathe to survive.  Vicker's drives away and watches the demise of his wife and her lover at home on his TV.  When he goes back, it looks like the tide has taken the bodies and Vickers heads home.  When he's home, he hears things, could it be his conscious or something else! In segment 4, "The Crate", Hal Holbrook plays Professor Henry Northup whose wife Billie, played by Adrienne Barbeau, is the most obnoxious women on the planet.  Henry dreams of killer her and wishes he could be freer like his friend Professor Stanley.  While at a party, Professor Stanley gets a call from Mike a custodian at the college and drives over to see what's up.  When he arrives, Mike tells him that he has discovered a mysterious crate under the stairs.  When they open the crate, a monster pops up and eats Mike! Professor Stanley takes off and looks for help and when he finds someone to help him, they get eaten too!  So he goes over to Henry's house and tells him what is happening.  Henry drugs Professor Stanley and devises a plan to get rid of Billie for good. In the 5th segment, "They're Creeping Up on You", E.G Marshall plays Upson Pratt, who is a Howard Hughes type recluse and a germophobe.  He sits alone running his empire, barking orders and trying to kill roaches.  After a large merger goes through, he learns that a competitor has killed himself.  To his delight the widow calls and he mocks her pain.  A storm blacks out his building and that is when his nightmare begins! One of my childhood favourites! Tom Savini is at the top of his game with his special effects.  The work on Father's Day still looks incredible and the monster in the crate is still pretty creepy.  Wonderful cast, lots of blood and weird tales.  A must see for anyone!

After watching these films, one can see that putting a collection of short horror films together, might be more advantages that putting together a feature.  These you can fit 3 taut tales of terror and get a little more bang for your buck. Now, if you don't mind I'm ordering some x-ray specs to go along with my Sea Monkey's


  1. Disagree with your choice of Creepshow as #1. That honor should go to Dead Of Night the film that started it all.

  2. Asylum is my favorite anthology film