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Top 5 Horror Anthologies

These are my Top 5 favourite horror anthology films. It was originally going to be a Top 10 post but since it was taking me a while to do (because there are multiple stories in each film) and I couldn't actually think of 10 films to make a Top 10,  I decided to do a Top 5 instead. I'll do a follow-up post later of other films that I like but aren't favourites. Posts contain spoilers. :)


1. Creepshow (1982)

Based on comics from the 50s, this film by Stephen King and George A. Romero features 5 different stories. The wraparound story is about a boy called Billy (played by Stephen King's son Joe Hill/King) who loves to read comic books. His father disapproves of this pastime and gets so angry he slaps his son. Billy wants revenge on his dad. That night the Crypt Keeper appears to him and the stories begin.





The first one, "Father's Day" is about a family who gather together every Father's Day. They are somewhat unusual and the grandaughter's husband Hank (played by Ed Harris), is finding it hard fitting in. One of the strangest family members is Great Aunt Bedelia (Viveca Lindfors), who killed her father seven years ago, after enduring years of mental abuse from him and then finding out that he had had her boyfriend murdered. Now every year on the anniversary of his death (which also happens to be Father's Day), she returns to his grave to "pay her respects". But this year she's in for a shock when her father returns!

 The second story, "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verill" is the story of farmer Jordy Verill (played by Stephen King) who lives a simple life. One night he finds a meteor on his farm, which burns his finger when he tries to pick it up. It can make plants grow and Jordy thinks he can get rich from his discovery. However things don't quite work out that way...

"Something To Tide You Over" tells the tale of wealthy man Richard (Leslie Nielson) who takes revenge on his wife and the man she was having an affair with (Ted Danson) by burying them up to their necks in sand on his private beach and leaving them to drown. He even makes Harry (his wife's lover) watch his wife drown on TV. Confident in his plan he returns to his house, never suspecting that they will take revenge on him!

"The Crate" is about Henry (Hal Holbrook), university professor and long suffering husband of Wilma "Call me Billie" (Adrienne Barbeau), a loud, obnoxious, vulgar woman. She doesn't fit in with his university crowd because she drinks too much and grates on everybody's nerves. Plus she treats Henry horribly, always nagging at and insulting him. He often has fantasies of killing her and when his friend Dex asks him to come and look at an old crate that contains a strange monster from the Arctic and has killed the university caretaker, he sees a chance to make his fantasy come true! He leaves a note for Wilma/Billie requesting her help because Dex has got into trouble with one of his students. Since Dex is known for flirting with young girls, she believes it. Henry tells his wife that the girl is hiding under the stairs and won't come out and Wilma is just the person to help...

And finally They're Creeping Up On You tells the story of Upson Pratt (E.G. Marshall) a rich, germ phobic man who lives alone in a supposedly germ proof apartment. He treats people badly, from his staff to the caretaker/superintendent who works in the building he lives in. He has a deep fear of bugs and in the end his horrible ways catch up with him, in the worst way he can imagine!



                                 
                                                                 "The Crate!"


                                                        

Creepshow is cheesy and dated now but still funny. My favourite story is The Crate. One of my favourite bits is when Henry says to Billie as he shoves her into the crate, "Tell it to call you Billie, you bitch!" lol. I don't like Creepshow 2 as much, the only story I really like in it is "The Hitchhiker" ("That'll cost you, Mrs. Lansing!"). There is a Creepshow III, I didn't even know it existed! I'll have to watch that sometime.




2. The Vault Of Horror (1973)

Another film based a comic book series and the sequel to Tales From The Crypt, this is about five men who find themselves trapped in the basement of a building. After talking to each other they discover that each of them has had a strange dream which ended badly. They proceed to tell their stories...

The first man to tell his tale (called "Midnight Mess") is Harold (played by Daniel Massey). He's a mercenary man who's looking for his sister Donna (played by Daniel's real life sister Anna Massey) so he can kill her and receive their family's inheritance money. When he manages to track her down, he finds himself in a strange little town where everyone shuts up before dark because they are deathly afraid of "Them". He calls on Donna and kills her (or so he thinks), then goes out to a restaurant he visited before dark, only to find it changed and the menu consisting of red liquidy soup and "clots". He soon discovers he's in danger!

In "The Neat Job" bachelor Arthur (Terry-Thomas) thinks it's high time he got married and chooses Eleanor (Glynis Johns) as his bride. However he soon finds that married life is not what he thought it would be, due to the fact that he is extremely tidy and Eleanor is messy. He grows increasingly tired of his new wife not living up to his standards and nags and nags at her. Eleanor tries her hardest to be what he wants her to be and thinks she has it sorted, until an accident one evening just before Arthur is due to come home pushes her over the edge, with bad consequences for Arthur...

"This Trick'll Kill You" is the story of Sebastian (Curd/Curt Jurgens) and his wife Inez (Dawn Addams), tourists in India who watch the street performance of  a fakir (Ishaq Bux) and his assistant (Jasmina Hilton). The couple are magicians on the lookout for a new trick for their act. They're not very impressed by the fakir's repertoire and end up exposing his tricks! Later on, Sebastian comes across the fakir's assistant again, who is performing a trick where she makes a rope rise out of a basket while playing a wind instrument. He asks her to sell it to him but he refuses, so he and his wife come up with a plan. But since they used devious means to acquire the trick, will it work for them?

The fourth story, "Bargain With Death" is about a man called Maitland (Michael Craig) who arranges an insurance scam with his friend Alex (Edward Judd). It involves Maitland taking a drug so he appears to be dead and being buried alive. Alex is supposed to collect the money on Maitland's insurance and then come and dig him up, so they can share. Instead greedy Alex decides to leave his friend there to rot and when Maitland wakes up he is trapped under ground. Meanwhile two medical students Tom and Jerry (lol, didn't realise the connection before!) are in desperate need of bodies for their training and come up with the idea of digging one up from the graveyard. They pay a gravedigger (Arthur Mullard) to do it for them and the grave he chooses just so happens to be Maitland's, which results in shock all round!

The final tale  "Drawn and Quartered" is about painter Moore (Tom Baker) who lives in Haiti. He believes his work is worthless, until one day he learns that it's selling very well and he hasn't seen a penny of the profits. He is furious that he's been lied to by the very men (art dealers/critics) who he relied on and resolves to get revenge. Moore visits a voodoo priest who tells him that if he plunges his hand into a fire, he will be able to achieve his goal. Disbelieving, he does it anyway and later learns that he can destroy whatever he draws or paints in reality by destroying the picture. He then sets out to get revenge on the men who have wronged him. The only flaw is that he has already done a self portrait of himself and must now protect it from harm.




                                                       "The Neat Job" clip

I have seen Tales From The Crypt but not as much as The Vault Of Horror and I prefer the sequel. My favourite stories are "The Neat Job" and "Midnight Mess". Arthur does nag an awful lot ("Eleanor! Eleanor! Can't you do anything neatly? Can't you?!) and I imagine quite a lot of people would lose it if treated like that! Still, he doesn't deserve to end up the way he does! As for Daniel, he's not really a very likeable character, lol. I like "This Trick'll Kill You" next. I think "Drawn and Quartered" is ok and my least favourite is "Bargain With Death". Not really sure why, it's just the least interesting story to me.


3. Body Bags (1993)

Body Bags was directed by John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper. It features three stories, introduced by The Coroner (John Carpenter), a strange man who seems to spend a lot of time in the morgue and enjoys telling stories.

"The Gas Station" is the tale of Anne, a psychology student who has just started work at an all night gas (petrol) station. On her first night, she learns that there is a serial killer on the loose in the area. When she arrives at work, she meets Bill (Robert Carradine), who is just finishing his shift. He seems friendly and after telling her what she needs to know, he leaves and Anne is left alone. As you can imagine, her first shift is very hard for her because she's now jumpy and on edge, wondering if  the serial killer will show up at the petrol station. It doesn't help that she accidentally looks herself out and a creepy homeless man asks to use the toilet, then falls asleep in there..Things go from bad to worse, when Anne sees sick pictures drawn on one of the cubicle doors and finds the homeless man's body in a car. She then discovers that "Bill"  (who is not who he claims to be) hasn't left after all and she is in terrible danger!

We then move on to "Hair". Richard (Stacy Keach) is a middle aged man with a younger girlfriend called Megan (played by 80s/90s singer Sheena Easton). He is upset because he's losing his hair and his fixation on it is causing trouble in his relationship. Then he sees a TV ad for a hair transplant clinic and makes an appointment there. Dr. Lock (David Warner) and his nurse (Debbie Harry) are sympathetic and tell Richard that they can help him. He has the proceedure done and his dreams are fulfilled when his hair grows into long flowing locks. In fact it keeps growing! Little does he know that Dr. Lock and his nurse are more than they seem and that they have an evil plan!

In the final tale successful baseball player Brent (Mark Hamil) has a car accident one night and loses his right eye. He has an eye transplant. It is successful and Brent returns home with his pregnant wife Cathy (played by model Twiggy) and they think things are going to be ok. However, the eye Brent received belonged to a serial killer and he begins to act strangely. He starts having visions and horrible headaches and becomes obsessed with working in the back garden. Cathy is alarmed at the change in her husband's behaviour and fears for her life.

"Gas Station" clip


My favourite stories are "Gas Station" and "Hair". "Gas Station" is more of a traditional "mad killer" one, while "Hair is whackier and I think the most comedic story.


4. Cat's Eye (1985)

We follow a tabby cat on his quest to get to a little girl who is calling him for help through a shop window and a TV. The people the cat comes across on his adventures make up the story.

In "Cigarette Smoker" the poor cat is caught by a man who works for Quitters Inc (a clinic that helps people quit smoking) and used by a doctor to demonstrate to Dick (James Woods) one of their methods. The cat is put in a cage and given electric shocks, to show Dick what will happen to his wife if he smokes again. He leaves the clinic and attempts to quit but fails and his wife ends up in the cage too. Horrified, Dick resolves anew to give up smoking and is successful. However, as a result of quitting he puts on weight and that brings other consequences.

Then we move on to "The Ledge". The cat has managed to escape. He leaves New York and makes his way to Atlantic City, New Jersey where he is seen by casino owner/crime boss Cressner (Kenneth McMilllan) who loves to bet. He decides to bet that the cat can make it across the road safely and wins. Cressner then decides to take the cat home with him. Meanwhile Johnny Norris (Robert Hays), a former professional tennis player, is planning on starting a new life with Cressner's wife. Before he can carry out his plan, he's kidnapped and taken to Cressner's apartment. Cressner tells Johnny that if he can make it all the way around the outside ledge of his apartment, he will divorce his wife so she and Johhny can be together. If he doesn't do it, drugs have been planted in his car and the police will be called. Johnny manages to get round on the ledge but when he comes back into the flat he discovers that he has been tricked. He then plays Cressner at his own game.

The intrepid cat has escaped once again and now journeys to Wilmington, North Carolina. At last he has arrived at his destination- the home of the little girl Amanda (played by a young Drew Barrymore) who he's been seeing- and it's time for the last story, "The General". Amanda is delighted to see him and wants to keep him (although she apparently doesn't seem to be aware that she called him there??) but her mum isn't so keen. She's worried that he will kill their bird. Amanda names the cat General and he settles in. Her mother insists on putting him out at night, a time when Amanda actually needs him the most because...there's a troll in her bedroom! It emerges from a hole that magically appears in the wall. Despite the myth about cats stealing people's breath, in this case it's trolls who do that. When the troll attempts to take Amanda's breath that night, General comes in and stops it. However, it had already killed the bird and believing that her fears are well founded, Amanda's mum steps up her campaign to get rid of General. But he won't give up that easily and returns to save Amanda.
 
Cat's Eye trailer


My fave story is "The General", followed by "The Ledge". I think "Cigarette Smoker" is ok but it's my least favourite.


5. The Monster Club (1980)

Horror author R. Chetwynd-Hayes (based on the real author who wrote the book this film is based on) encounters a man called Eramus (played by Vincent Price) on the street, who is really hungry.  When Chetwynd-Hayes (John Carradine) says he will do anything to help him, Eramus bites him! It turns that the food he needs is blood, since he's a vampire. In return for the favour, Eramus takes Chetwynd-Hayes to a club (The Monster Club) where he can be sure to find plenty of material for his next book! Inside the club there are various monsters dancing to live music. Eramus and Chetwynd-Hayes sit down in a corner and Eramus shows the author a chart of various monsters and their offspring (a monster genealogical chart). When different monsters get together and have children, they produce hybrid monsters, such as "Werevamps" and"Vamgoos". They have various powers, all the way down to a "Shadmock" whose power lies in its whistle. Eramus then proceeds to tell Chetwynd-Hayes stories about the monsters.

The first story ("The Shadmock") begins with a man (Simon Ward) in an insane asylum who has been sitting silently, staring into space for 6 months. His name is George and the doctors want to find out what's happened to him to make him like that. Viewers then learn his story, which starts when he and his girlfriend Angela (Barbara Kellerman) who are on the lookout for ways to make money, see a job advert in the paper for a secretary  to come and work for a man called Raven (James Laurenson). He's an antiquary and he needs someone to help him catalogue his collection. Raven lives an isolated life in a big house because of his strange appearance, which is due to the fact that he is a Shadmock. He is very pale and wears gloves all the time. At first Anglea is frightened by his appearance and refuses to work for him but she ends up returning. She and Raven grow close and  he asks her to marry him. She turns him down but is persuaded by George to play along with it and then steal from Raven. Happy that she has accepted him, Raven gives Angela an engagement ring from his safe and throws an engagement party to which he invites his relatives, who are various monsters. This is the night Angela chooses to carry out their plan. However, when she is discovered and Raven unleashes his terrifying whistle, things go badly wrong and George winds up in the asylum.

The second story is called "The Vampires" and is introduced by a vampire film producer Lintom Bustosky (played by Anthony Steel). He's made a film based on his childhood.. Young Lintom (Warren Saire) lives with his parents (Richard Johnson and Britt Eckland) in London. He is a shy and lonely boy who is bullied at school. His parents keep themselves to themselves. His father is a night worker who sleeps during the day and then leaves for his job every evening. One day Lintom is rescued from bullies by a clergyman (Donald Pleasance) who wants to know where his dad sleeps. At the same time as Lintom and the clergyman are talking, 3 strange men wearing bowler hats and carrying violin cases show up in the area. They begin stalking the family. Acting on the clergyman's suggestion that he go down to the basement where his dad sleeps, Lintom finds him sleeping in a coffin and discovers that he is a vampire. He flees, only to run into the men outside (they appear to have lost someone because now there's only 3 of them including the clergyman!). They're vampire hunters there to kill Linton's father but their mission doesn't work out quite as planned.

Then we come to the final story, "The Ghouls". Movie director Sam (Stuart Whitman) goes to a remote village, scouting for a location for his next film. In search of a telephone, he enters a rundown inn. There is no phone but he gets to chatting to the strange old innkeeper (Patrick Magee) about using the village for his film. He is told that "The Elders" run the village and he'll have to ask their permission. Unnoticed by him at first, a group of weird people in dirty looking hooded rags suddenly appear! Unable to make a quick getaway since his car has been tampered with, he is forced to go back into the inn. He meets a normal looking girl, Luna (Lesley Dunlop). From her learns that the people of the village are ghouls who dig up dead bodies and eat them. She explains that she is not like the others, she is a "Humegoo" since her mother was a human from "outside" and her father is the innkeeper. Sam and Luna attempt to escape the village, which doesn't prove to be easy.


The Monster Club trailer


I wouldn't say this was one of the best films out there but it's entertaining, lol. The monster costumes are rather crappy but maybe good for what they had at the time!

Hope you enjoy the clips! I'll do another post later about some more horror anthologies.


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