From Beyond the Grave – originally titled The Undead and also known as The Creatures, Tales from Beyond the Grave, and Tales from the Beyond – was the last of the Amicus anthology films.
Peter Cushing is the enigmatic old owner of Temptations Ltd, a dusty antique shop in a small, foggy, London backstreet. With his flat cap, pipe and Northern accent, he promises a surprise with every purchase – which is certainly the case for those customers who attempt to cheat him or steal anything because this antique shop is not all that it seems!
The first story is called ‘The Gatecrasher’ and features David Warner as Edward Charlton – a smug, narcissistic know-it-all who makes a big mistake when he swindles the old man out of some money in Temptations by claiming an antique mirror is a reproduction and buying it at a bargain price.
Once back in his groovy bachelor pad, Edward gradually realises that there is something very strange about the mirror after his friends badger him into holding a seance.
In fact, the mirror contains the spirit of a very nasty character indeed who requires blood and, through hypnotic suggestion, forces Edward to bring female victims back to his place for slaughter so that he can become whole leaving the eternal prison that has held him for so long.
‘An Act of Kindness’ features Ian Bannen as Christopher Lowe, a timid and henpecked husband stuck in a boring office job and married to Mabel (Diana Dors).
Constantly humiliated and henpecked at home by Mabel and his son, Lowe befriends threadbare matchbox street vendor and old soldier Jim Underwood (Donald Pleasence) who he passes by on the way to and from work. Lowe comes to enjoy the fact that Jim salutes him and calls him Sir, affording him the respect he never gets at home.
Browsing in Temptations Ltd, Lowe tries to buy a Distinguished Service Medal to impress the old soldier, but the old shop owner wants the certificate to prove Lowe really was with Monty’s Eighth Army in North Africa as he claims and a decorated war hero. So Lowe steals the medal instead when the old man’s back is turned.
Impressed by the medal, Jim invites Lowe to his home for some tea where he is soon a regular guest and involved in a relationship with Jim’s rather creepy young daughter Emily (played by Pleasence’s real-life daughter Angela) who just happens to practice witchcraft.
Lowe and Emily make love and she tells him that she can rid him of his nagging wife. This she does by driving a pin into an effigy of Mabel’s body and when Lowe rushes home he finds her dead.
Lowe then marries Emily, but at the reception, she plunges the cake knife into an effigy of the groom and Lowe’s head splits open and he dies.
Emily then turns to Lowe’s young son and says “we always answer little children’s prayers” and the boy smiles in delight that his rowing parents are both now gone.
‘The Elemental’ features Ian Carmichael as Reggie Warren, a posh and pompous businessman who makes a big mistake when he assumes the old antique shop proprietor is a doddering old fossil and switches some price tags the shop to get an antique snuff box on the cheap. “I hope you enjoy snuffing it,” says Cushing.
On the way home in the train, Reggie is bothered in his compartment by an annoying and rather theatrical woman called Madame Orloff (Margaret Leighton), a professional psychic who tells him he has an ‘Elemental’ on his shoulder that must be removed before it takes over his host body.
Reggie, of course, assumes this woman is mad and goes back to his newspaper – but once home in his large country house with wife Susan (Nyree Dawn Porter) strange things soon start to happen.
Reggie calls in Madame Orloff who duly exorcises the spirit, but their home is wrecked in the process. After Madame Orloff has left, it becomes clear that the Elemental has taken possession of Susan who kills her husband before wandering off into the night.
The final story – ‘The Door’ – stars a suave young Ian Ogilvy as William Seaton.
Seaton purchases an ancient ornate door from Temptations Ltd. Back at home Seaton and his lovely wife Rosemary (Lesley-Anne Down) find themselves becoming entranced by the door and although they’ve used it as the entrance to their stationery cupboard, it seems to sometimes open into a very mysterious blue room.
On the desk in the blue room is the journal of evil 17th-century satanist Sir Michael Sinclair (Jack Watson), who claims to have achieved immortality through human sacrifice.
Suddenly, Sinclair manifests himself and abducts Rosemary. He tells Seaton that both he and his wife are to be sacrificed so that his immortality will carry on.
Seaton escapes and smashes the door with an axe, which results in Sinclair being killed and reduced to a pile of ash on the floor.
It transpires that Seaton and his wife survived because he was the only customer that day who didn’t con the antique shop proprietor.
We then go back to Peter Cushing and the antique shop one more time for an enjoyable end to the film. As he is counting the day’s takings, a petty crook comes into the shop and tries to rob him.
But when the crook tries to shoot the proprietor, the bullets have no effect and in fear, the crook stumbles and falls to his death in a coffin lined with spikes.
The proprietor then welcomes his next customers as if nothing happened. “The love of money is the root of all evil,” he laments sadly.
Antique Shop Proprietor
Nyree Dawn Porter
Sir Michael Sinclair