Day 08 - Your favorite anthology –
(Death Lives in Tales from the Crypt!)
For this entry into the Horror Challenge I want to take you back. It was a dark and stormy night on Falcon Lane in Long Valley, NJ. Young James Terror was asleep soundly in his bed only to awake to the sound of the power going out. You know the sound quite well. Everything turns off including every appliance in the house, alarm clocks etc. It’ll wake you up for certain. On this particular night, young James was recording a movie known as Tales from the Crypt. Fresh on the heels of the release of the HBO series that started a whole new generation collecting E.C. Comics one of the better cable networks decided to replay the Amicus classic. On this night in particular the recording of this picture was nearly lost had it not been for a crafty future doctor and his enviable VCR programming skills.
I quickly got myself from my bed realizing that Tales from the Crypt had been in the midst of recording at the late hour of 1:30am and would have been stopped due to the outage. Furthermore the tape would have ejected or rewound (the VCR believing the recording to be finished due to the outage as silly VCR’s would often believe). I fast forwarded the cassette to the appropriate spot and manually pushed the little red dot and green arrow at the same moment to initiate one of the single greatest and most important movie experiences of my life (short of my mother and father replaying Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors… another Amicus classic you may be familiar with… tee hee hee). From the point at which I began the recording that night I watched what would become one of my favorite horror pictures of all time and my favorite horror anthology (probably tied with at least two other anthologies, but let’s keep this simple stupid).
What’s not to love? The opening credit sequence is set to Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. I know this because it’s in the credits. I went to the local library the day after watching this movie for the first time in order to order it from a nearby library so that I could be awe struck by it again and again. My parents would get me a copy of that piece of Christmas that year. It would in turn get me listening to Mozart’s Requiem and other darker music. Probably steered me away from pop music forever (or at least until Idol last night).
The movie was filmed in Sheffield, England. I didn’t even know what Amicus was and for years I assumed this was a Hammer studios classic not realizing that Amicus was not Hammer and vice versa. It had Peter Cushing, and I remembered him distinctly from Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors and from Star Wars. Joan Crawford too (only I just kinda thought she was hot and didn’t realize how crazy she was).
The stories are incredible and they’ll tell themselves when you watch the movie if you haven’t seen it already. Just go buy it. Don’t rent. Purchase. Better that way. Ever since I that stormy evening I’ve been in love with Amicus and learned what Amicus was. It helped me to better identify Hammer pictures. The sequel, while somewhat less known or enjoyed less at least, is worth the watch and has some very clever stories and imagery (The Vault of Horror or as it was displayed in the Exhumed Films copy at their most recent marathon, Tales from the Crypt II).
This one precedes Creepshow and without it I don’t know that we get Creepshow. I don’t know that I learn to love horror film music as much as I do without this picture. Its speculative but knowing that a movie like Tales from the Crypt existed meant something to me. That image of Cushing as dead Grimsdyke is how I remember this movie most fondly. The wool cap. The Sunken dead eyes. Blank. Gray Skin. That Grimace. It was the image on the back of Manchel’s Album of Modern Horror Films that kept me up at night, but that I would only fully appreciate because Freddie Francis made me love it so. Because I see Tales from the Crypt I realize that I can find rare or hard to find films at late hours of the night. I didn’t have to just read about classic horror. It was out there.
-Dr. Jimmy (the horror is out there)
Please go see Vault of Horror, Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, The House that Dripped Blood, Creepshow, Tales from The Darkside, From Beyond the Grave and Trick R. Treat my little anthology fans. Please. Please. Please.