Happy Halloween! Here’s a classic Amicus anthology and a fitting end to our month of horror films. From Beyond the Grave played on TCM today after lunch and we liked it so much it supplanted our original choice for day 31.
In the wraparound segment, Peter Cushing inhabits The Proprietor, a purveyor of antiques who passes supernatural judgement upon customers who cheat him. I don’t know what which regional accent he is putting on here but it is the one that makes people pronounce “film” as “fill-um.”
In the first segment, David Warner haggles a 90% discount on a 400 year old mirror. It compels each of its owners to host a seance after which a ghost shows up in the reflection. I won’t tell you what the ghost wants but if he had a houseplant it would be named Audrey II. I would have never found myself in this predicament, even though I enjoy the idea of seances, simply because I don’t enjoy haggling. You can pretty much tell where this segment is going as soon as the ghost makes his second or third visit.
The second segment features Ian Bannen as an unhappy office worker, Diana Dors as his harpy wife, and Donald + Angela Pleasence as a creepy father and daughter. Angela Pleasence might be the most unsettling person ever to grace the screen. She really should have an Oscar. I wonder what the two of them were like at home. Probably really nice and open minded with a great relationship. People who play villains all the time are always rumored to be nice, especially if they are British. Anyway, Bannen lifts a medal from Cushing in an attempt to impress Donangela with stolen valor, and some voodoo happens. There is a twist I didn’t see coming. This is by far the best segment in my opinion, which is saying something because they are all great.
The third one has Ian Carmichael switching price tags on a snuff box. At least I think that’s what it is. It is a fancy box. He’s exactly like one of those people who hangs around the clearance aisle at Wally World to get tags and put them on other stuff and then flip their wigs at the cashier who tries to stop them from using the self checkout to buy a 55 inch screen TV for 99 cents, except those people don’t attract elemental spirits and then call Margaret Leighton to remove them in an amusing ritual. Unless they do.
In the final segment, Ian Ogilvy and Lesley-Anne Down are the eye candy of the picture. Ogilvy buys a door from Cushing for 40 bucks. Once he gets it home to the lovely Down, it sometimes opens onto their stationery closet, and sometimes onto a baby blue room in which King Charles II likes to play stupid games. The door has a Green Man carved onto it. I wish I had a stationery closet. I just have paper and cards and pens and pencils stashed all over the house. I wouldn’t even mind a carving of a Green Man. I’d give Charles II a miss though. Every time I see Lesley Anne Down I can only think of her and Patrick Swayze in the North and South miniseries. So I like to think that while filming this segment she was looking forward to being in that with beautiful Patrick. Oh yes, and segment 4 also has a twist.
Finally, the wraparound ends and we find out that the name of the shop is Temptations and that the Proprietor can not be destroyed by ordinary means. I don’t know why he needs ghosts, elementals, kings, or the Pleasences to do his work. But it sure is fun to watch. From Beyond the Grave is recommended for everyone who loves classic films, and especially for fans of actors named Ian. Enjoy!