14 December 2007 | Coventry
Beware the Pleasances!
In good old Amicus-Anthology tradition, debuting director Kevin Connor presents a nice variety of three just above average horror stories and one really terrific one. "From Beyond the Grave" certainly wasn't the production studio's best omnibus effort (that honor goes to either "Asylum" or "The House that Dripped Blood"), but it has a splendid ensemble cast (including eminent British names like Donald Pleasance, Peter Cushing, Ian Ogilvy, David Warner, Ian Carmichael,
), a neat wraparound narrative and an overall pleasingly sinister atmosphere. All separate tales begin in the same location, namely an obscure and hidden antique shop manned by Peter Cushing. The customers at this shop then become the protagonists of the segments, and the attentive viewer quickly figures out that their own personal fate will also depend on whether or not they are honest human beings. The bought items (an army medal, an ancient mirror, a snuff box and even an medieval door) aren't necessarily essential objects in the tales, though. The first story stars David Warner ("The Omen") as an obnoxious man who becomes possessed with a murderous spirit homing in his recently purchased antique mirror. The plot of "The Gate Crasher", as this story is called, is quite mundane but it boosts a handful of grisly set pieces. The third story is a rather comical referring to "The Exorcist", with Ian Carmichael being possessed by an invisible and hugely hyperactive elemental critter (whatever the hell that may be) that is attached to his shoulder. The exorcism scenes are incredibly over-the-top and the segment isn't really meant to be scary. The fourth and final story was a bit too tacky in my humble opinion, but it nonetheless has awesomely grim scenery (the room, the portal, the axe
) and the beauty of actress Lesley-Ann Down. I'm deliberately saving story number two for last, as it is by far the most superior installment of them all. Most credit here must go to Donald Pleasance and his real-life daughter Angela, for their genuinely uncanny performances as the overly friendly yet obtrusive pair of low-class street merchants who gradually 'take-over' an unhappy married man. I can't reveal too much about the plot, but the performances of Donald and particularly Angela Pleasance truly send cold shivers down your spine. Recommended!