From Beyond the Grave (1974)

The poster for this movie states, “Every once in a while, a horror film becomes a horror classic. In 1931, Frankenstein. In 1932, Dracula. In 1968, Rosemary’s Baby. In 1974, The Exorcist. This year it is…From Beyond the Grave…where death is just the beginning!” Man, talk about hyperbole! Sure, this Amicus portmanteau is good, but it went right for the balls there, right?

17 years before Stephen King wrote Needful Things, this movie presents Temptations Limited, an antique store with the motto “Offers You Cannot Resist” and a frightening owner played by Peter Cushing.

In the Gatecrasher, Edward Charlton (David Warner!) thinks he’s conned Cushing into selling him a mirror for an incredibly inexpensive price. The thing is, that mirror is haunted by a ghost that feeds on murder and suicide. And the cycle of the mirror may go on and on, as we soon learn.

The second story, An Act of Kindness, is all about Christopher Lowe (Ian Bannen), a man trapped in a loveless marriage (Diana Dors, who plays his wife, has one hell of a real-life story that you can learn about in our review of one of her other movies, Craze). He feels no love from her or their son, so he stays out late and avoids going home.

Soon, he’s met an old soldier barely scraping by played by Donald Pleasence. He tells the old man that he was a soldier and purchases a Distinguished Service Order medal from Cushing to back up his yarns. Before you know it, he’s been seduced by the man’s daughter (who is plated by Pleasence’s real-life daughter Angela), who uses magic to kill his wife and set up a marriage between them. However, things can only get worse for Lowe.

In The Elemental, a demon inside a snuff box haunts a man, his dog and his wife.

Finally, in The Door, William Seaton (Ian Ogilvy, Witchfinder General) wants a fancy door from the shop but can’t afford it. Cushing offers him a deal and soon, it’s in his house and creating a gateway to a mysterious blue room where evil occultist Sir Michael Sinclair menaces our hero and his wife (Lesley-Anne Down, Death Wish 5: The Face of Death). This is the best of the bunch, with a genuinely creepy feel and a horrifying villain. It’s also the only story that ends well for its protagonists.

After all that, Cushing deals with a thief in his shop by locking him into an iron maiden and speaking directly to the viewer. All Amicus movies must end this way, which was probably some kind of British law.

This is the last of the Amicus portmanteau films and while not as powerful or frightening as their earlier efforts, it’s still plenty of frightening fun.

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