Looking for some good horror anthology movies other than the Amicus ones? Well, here are five you might like to check out:
Dead of Night (1945) – This black-and-white masterpiece was the first real horror portmanteau movie. Martin Scorsese once described it as “the granddaddy of all horror anthology films.” The Ealing Studios production certainly has some real creepy moments, and in the tradition of all good horror portmanteau flicks, it has an excellent framing story concerning an architect (Mervyn Johns) who arrives for an appointment at a house he’s never visited before. However, it’s not long before he realises he has vivid recollections of the place and all the people gathered in it from a dream. Then, one by one, each guest relates their own strange experience, as an oppressive sense of impending doom grows in the house. Among the tales told are “Golfing Story” and “The Haunted Mirror” (which features the lovely Googie Withers). But the story that really stands out in Dead of Night is “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy”, in which Michael Redgrave plays a performer who is terrorised by his wooden partner.
Black Sabbath (1963) – No, not the group, but the movie. Starring the Master of Horror himself, Boris Karloff, as the framing-story narrator (as well as appearing in one of the tales himself as a Russian vampire), this portmanteau classic brings you three stories: “The Telephone,” “The Wurdalak,” and “The Drop of Water.” The English language version of the movie differs somewhat from the Italian one, although both versions are extremely effective Gothic chillers.
Trilogy of Terror (1975) – This is the made-for-television movie that is especially noted for its story “Amelia,” in which Karen Black is terrorised by a malevolent fetish Zuni doll. Produced by Dan Curtis and based on a trio of short stories by Richard Matheson, Trilogy of Terror is an extremely entertaining, fun film, and if you ever manage to come across a copy on DVD – especially the Special Edition one released by MPI Home Video – I would highly recommend that you snap it up for your collection, as it is well worth having. A sequel, Trilogy of Terror 2, was released in 1996, in which the crazed Zuni doll returns in the story “He Who Kills,”, this time to terrorise a young female doctor.
Trick ‘r Treat (2007) – The ideal horror anthology to watch on Halloween night, as its title seems to suggest. Bearing some similarities to Stephen King’s Creepshow in its comic book credits, this movie was initially planned for a theatre release by Warner Brothers for Halloween 2007, but this fell through and so the film just went straight to DVD in 2009. A highlight of the movie is the story starring True Blood actress Anna Paquin, who plays a virginal Red Riding Hood-turned-supernatural-being. The busload of severely disturbed kids and Dylan Baker as a sinister school principal are other memorable, creepy segments. The four stories are tied together by a mysterious child trick-or-treater called Sam, who wears shabby orange pyjamas with a burlap sack over his head. This entity shows up in all the stories whenever someone flouts Halloween traditions. Over the years, Trick ‘r Treat has amassed quite a cult following.
Grave Tales (2011) – In the tradition of the old British Amicus movies, Grave Tales is a great little portmanteau film which, the instant I saw it, I just HAD to add to my DVD collection. Quite a difficult movie to fin, Grave Tales stars Brian Murphy (who played George Roper in Man About The House and George and Mildred) as an old gravedigger who’s eager to share creepy stories with a visiting genealogist (Heather Darcy), each of which relates to a certain grave in the cemetery. There are four stories in all – “One Man’s Meat,” “Callistro’s Mirror,” “The Hand,” and “Dead Kittens.” – and they are all brilliant. The late, great Christopher Lee actually starred in the original theatre release, but does not appear in the DVD release.