From Beyond the Grave (GB 1973)

Director: Kevin Connor

Starring: Peter Cushing, David Warner, Donald Pleasence, Ian Bannen, Diana Dors, Angela Pleasence, Ian Ogilvy, Leslie Anne-Down, Ian Carmichael, Margaret Leighton, Nyree Dawn Porter

Cinematography: Alan Hume

Music: David Gamley

Original Stories: R Chetwynd Hayes

Script: Raymond Christodoulou, Robin Clarke

Fact: Also known as Tales from Beyond the Grave, Creatures, Creatures From Beyond the Grave and Temptations

Bit Part: the legendary Tommy Godfrey

In one line: The people who steal from a down at heel antique shop get their come-uppance.


Peter Cushing is the proprietor of 'Temptations Ltd.', a second hand/antique shop in a mysteriously deserted back alleyway in London. Various people come into his store and either con him out of the real value of an antique/curio, or simply steal from him. The proprietor is always aware of what they are doing. Each of the four people encounters the supernatural or a gateway to a world of evil. The proprietor is either a an agent provocateur for a higher force or the Devil himself.


Another Amicus portmanteau horror film for the 'collection' and more stories from mysterious writer R.Chetwynd Hayes.

Cushing was a problematic actor - very good in some things, not so good in others, but well-liked by almost everybody. Here he dusts off a Northern/Lancastrian accent from his meagre repertoire to play the un-named proprietor of 'Temptations' (one of the many titles this film has acquired over the years). Cushing watches from the back of his shop as various British thesps (Warner/Bannen/Ogilvie/Carmichael) steal from his shop. His only reaction to their villainy is to light his pipe and say: "Naughty! He sh'u'n't ha' done that!"

The best of the four stories in the film is The Gatecrasher in which Edward Jeffries* (David Warner) cons Cushing out of the true value of a large Victorian mirror. After a seance (featuring some very horrible early seventies threads) at his flat, Jeffries is possessed by a haunting vision of a mirror demon (Marcel Steiner) and is coerced into committing a series of Jack the Ripper-style murders. First-time director Connor creates a genuinely sinister atmosphere and there are some nice directorial touches involving shifting perspectives as the demon is brought to life in the' background'  of the mirror as a flickering candle explodes into life in the foreground.

The second story An Act of Kindness is a black comedy. Mr Lowe (Ian Bannen) is a hen-pecked husband whose only encounter with a more kindly world is his daily meetings with ex-serviceman and now match-seller Jim Underwood (Donald Pleasence). Lowe steals a military medal from 'Temptations' to impress Underwood and is rewarded with a trip to Underwood's house where he meets and becomes entranced by Underwood's daughter Emily (the extraordinary-looking Angela Pleasence - 'extraordinary' as in she looks like her dad in a wig).

The third story The Elemental is rubbish and features Ian Carmichael (imagine Simon Cadell without the acting talent) playing his usual upper class twit character and a truly terrible performance by Margaret Leighton as an eccentric English 'spirit-diviner'. It's best avoided.

The final story The Door sees newly weds Ian Ogilvie and Leslie-Anne Down facing danger from a seventeenth century spirit world when their antique door proves to be a gateway to another dimension. It's not very good, but it's an improvement on The Elemental and is Leslie-Ann Down's best film apart from The First Great Train Robbery.

LAD was great, but still wasn't as good as Nicola Pagett in the Upstairs, Downstairs firmament, but even the beautiful Nicola paled into insignificance compared to Jenny Tomasin, the raven temptress 'Ruby'. 

So, From Beyond the Grave - enjoyable tosh, but probably better as a pub discussion than as an actual cinematic experience. 


*And not Edward Charlton as IDMB would have it. Edward 'Eddie' Charlton was a droopy-eyed Australian snooker player from the seventies and eighties who didn't kill anyone in a Jack the Ripper-style fashion, and was  in fact, one of the final bearers of the Olympic torch at the 1956 Olympics.