Well, I was going through the cable guide and I saw that an old episode of HBO’s Tales from the Crypt was on. It was the one with Psycho Santa Claus. I was going to watch that, until I scrolled a little further down and saw that the actual movie was on. I thought to myself, well cool, this will be just as good, right? Wrong.
This is another one of those portmanteau horror flicks so popular in the seventies – an anthology of “scary” stories that are collectively supposed to freak you out more than just a single storyline. Trilogy of Terror, this ain’t. Five people are touring an underground burial crypt and get locked in a room with the “Crypt Keeper.” This is not THE Crypt Keeper. This is just some dude in robes. Totally unsatisfying. The best part about Tales from the Crypt is the Crypt Keeper! Anyway, the fake Crypt Keeper entreats each member of the party to tell their tales…
In the first tale, Joan Collins kills her husband, then is stalked by a psychotic Santa Claus. Hmmm…just the same story I passed on in the single HBO episode. Joan Collins trying to do a British accent is pretty humorous, but that’s about it.
The second tale was by far the worst – an adulterous man dies in a car wreck, only to come back two years later. He goes around scaring hobos and his ex wife and is really confused about why, until he finally sees himself in the mirror. He’s a zombie! Oooh, scary!
Peter Cushing stars in the third tale as a kindly old rubbish collector who entertains the neighborhood children and keeps stray dogs. The two guys across the street (they’ve gotta be lovers!) decide his place is an eyesore and start trying to drive him away. First they have his dogs taken away by the city. Then they get him fired. After that, they convince the neighborhood mothers not to let their children play with him. The final insult is when they have the entire town send him really ugly Valentine’s Day cards. The all have really bad poems in them, like “This city would be so much better if you were not around. Why don’t you go jump in the river and drown.” Seriously, they are that lame. Nonetheless, the old guy hangs himself. Really. Low self esteem much? The old dude comes back a year later and has his revenge on one of the guys who harassed him. Pulls his heart right out of his chest…
The fourth tale is a variation on The Monkey’s Paw. The funny part is that these people KNOW the story of The Monkey’s Paw – they actively talk about it and try not the repeat the mistake. The moral of the story is…don’t ever wish a dead person back to life, especially if they have already been embalmed. And definitely don’t wish them back to life “forever and ever.” There’s a nice shot of pig’s intestines in this one. Maybe they would have looked a bit more realistic if they were fresh?
The final tale was by far the best. An ex-military sergeant gets a new job running a home for the blind. He turns off the heat and feeds them slop. The blind guys have their revenge by capturing the sergeant and his dog. The lock them in basement closets for a few days while they build a series of alleys connecting the two closets. In the middle is a narrow corridor lined with razor blades. As soon as the sergeant passes through the razor corridor towards the exit, the blind dudes release his starving dog and turn out the lights…I assume that hilarity ensues after this point.
Cheesy seventies schlock, but not quite bad enough to send me right to sleep – and believe me, I was trying.