The portmanteau or anthology film is a perfect format for horror. The idea, which is to create a film using interlocking but separate stories, had been around since the earliest days of cinema, but it was successfully revived for the horror genre in 1965 with ‘Dr Terror’s House Of Horrors’, which was a big enough success to provoke a slew of similar films up until the early eighties.
‘From Beyond The Grave’ is a 1974 film from Amicus studios. Amicus are the horror portmanteau studio, and, for my money, ‘From Beyond…’ is the best of the lot, an absolute classic. No other anthology film has such strong individual stories, such good performances, and such a genuinely unsettling atmosphere of foreboding and doom.
The four individual stories are linked by Temptations Ltd, an antique shop run by Peter Cushing (sporting an uncharacteristic Yorkshire accent). His customers are a dishonest lot, switching prices, negotiating unreasonable prices and, in one case, stealing, but they soon learn the error of their ways as soon as they leave the shop and their story begins.
It’s a good enough film to split it up into component parts, so that’s what we’ll do this weekend, although, of course, you realise I did this all one damp, dull night weeks ago and I’m currently at a pool party having an amazing time.