TALES FROM THE CRYPT ***** UK 1972 Dir: Freddie Francis. 92 Mins
There are five stories in this deservedly admired Amicus anthology, and all of them are exceptional cinematic translations of the EC Comics’ tradition of doling out grisly justice to foolish / unpleasant people. The one everyone remembers, however, is the opening episode “And All Through The House”. Set on Christmas Eve to a marvellously unnerving audio backdrop of a radio Christmas carol broadcast, it opens with middle class loser Martin Boddey getting brained by his cheating, poker-wielding wife (Joan Collins).
Her comeuppance comes in the form of an escaped lunatic (Oliver MacGreevey) who has kitted himself out as Father Christmas and been warmly welcomed into the house by Collins’ young daughter (Chloe Franks). Characteristic of the very best of the Amicus shorts, this atmospheric, blackly comic mini-masterpiece achieves a pitch-perfect balance between the grimly funny and the genuinely disturbing: the moments with young Franks and the psycho-Santa are icky in all sorts of ways. The story was remade, very well by Robert Zemeckis for the 90’s HBO TALES FROM THE CRYPT series, with Larry Drake well cast as the crazed Santa.
Review by Steven West