Monday, July 17, 2017

Tales from the Crypt (1972) Part 2

The morality horror continues!

* Wish You Were Here

Failed businessman Ralph Jason lost all his money and is steeped in debt. He freely admits to being ruthless in his rise to riches and makes no apologies for it as it built his empire. To avoid declaring bankruptcy, he and his wife Enid will be forced to sell off their treasured antiques and items collected from all over the world. His wife finds a Chinese figure that has an inscription (of course in English) that grants 3 wishes, so she wishes for lots of money. Of course it doesn't go well. The montage of Ralph driving to his solicitor's house followed by the death motorcyclist backed by a jaunty jazz score is surreal, out of place, and a bit silly.

I especially enjoyed the meta commentary of remembering the story of The Monkey's Paw and trying to avoid the pitfalls of the old couple in that story. However, her husband still dies and, when she wishes him back as he was right before the accident, he's still dead because he died of a heart attack. The creepiest and palest funeral workers deliver his body in another surreal scene. Her last wish is the worst. Even as she says to be careful, she wishes him alive forever, putting him in pain due to the embalming fluid. Enid is a terribly written character namely because her hysteria and grief cause her to nonsensically try to chop him up even though he can't die. She is also the source of every problem except their initial financial situation.

Although I'm not a fan of the terrible portrayal of Enid, the image of Ralph writhing in pain with his intenstines exposed and hand crawling around on its own shocked and frightened me as a child. It repelled me but I was fascinated at the same time. Although it's nostalgic for me, the story is not the best. We never see his evil deeds and it doesn't really feel like a deserves a fate worse than death. It has odd moments and it doesn't seem to all fit together organically. On a sidenote, I noticed the similarities to Wish Upon and I wonder if the writer watched this as well.

My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins

* Blind Alleys

Major William Rogers takes over as superintendent at the Elmridge Home for the Blind, bringing his dog, his militarisitic attitude, and unwelcome changes. Those changes include turning off heating at night during the freezing winter and lowering the quality and amount of food for the elderly men. He has no sympathy for the freezing, starving men and doesn't even seem to view them as people, making snide comments that they have no reason to stay up as blind people. Rogers stays in his luxurious office warmed by his fireplace eating steak, wine, and a lush salad while the blind men eat tightly rationed slop and freeze. Nigel Patrick portrays him as no nonsense, dismissive, and unaware of uncaring of his deep hypocrisy.

George Carter is the representative for the blind men who tries to reason with Major Rogers that the cuts to their care is harmful. He is rejected time and time again. Rogers isn't above siccing his dog on George for his insolence, which was beyond the pale. Patrick Magee, who I recognized from A Clockwork Orange, is a delightful character actor who infuses George with righteous anger and a stony visage. He puts such venom in his voice when addressing the Major for the injustices. After a man dies due to the inhuman treatment, all of the blind men band together to take care of their problem, collecting meat to lure the dog away, capturing Major Rogers, constructing the means for their revenge, and keeping people from informing the authorities. The only thing they do that I don't agree with is starving the Major's dog. It isn't his fault his owner sucks.

The ending is another instance of poetic justice. The Major is reduced to begging for food and water for himself and his dog, which they refuse. The blind men constructed a covered corridor from his prison to the room where they kept his dog. The end of the corridor too narrow to walk through facing forward and lined with hundreds of razor blades. His walk through is suspenseful as he and we don't know what lies in store for him. The music heightens the tension as he inches along, trying not to cut himself on the wall. When the dog is released, his realization of his doom is accompanied with a zoom out from the corridor to show the narrow space and the gleaming razor blades. His fate isn't shown, but we can imagine it so much more gruesome than it could have been shown at the time. This is another of my favorite segments because the slow walk through the corridor and the sight of him flinching at each small cut from his walk past the razors makes the endings implications even more horrifying.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

The ending of the frame story has the Crypt Keeper revealing that the stories aren't warnings, but events that have already happened. A door opens with a blinding light, but Carl goes through and falls to his fate. All of them are doomed to the literal fiery pit of Hell as unrepentent sinners. It ends with the Crypt Keeper breaking the fourth wall to warn the viewer against a similar fate. I love this film both as my gateway to the genre and as a suprisingly well made horror film.

My overall rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

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