Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tales That Witness Madness (1973)

Fans of TALES FROM THE CRYPT or CREEPSHOW style horror anthology movies may want to check out TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS. The 70's pace and style may throw some people off, but I found it to have a certain charm - like an old, worn in sweater you toss on when it's cold and rainy outside.

Freddie Francis directed the film and I was happy to see the style carry over from his older films like the freaktastic Girly (1970) - a strange, personal fave of mineand the other anthology films he headed up like Tales from the Crypt (1972) and Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965). 

The cast includes the talents of Kim Novak, Donald Pleasence and Joan Collins. The English production quality is top notch for the time. We have a classic, two person base to work from as Jack Hawkins visits Pleasence at his asylum to celebrate his recent psychological progress with four mental patients - aka our four stories.  I talk them through in broad strokes.

Mr Tiger
There's nothing stronger than a child's imagination. So creative. So...dangerous. Fighting parents just don't understand a lonely child's need for a companion.

Penny Farthing
Items passed over from an aunt who has passed over prove to be life altering.  And, Uncle Albert proves to be a very bad man.

"I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree."  A tree found in the woods is looked at as an objet d'art by one and an eyesore by another. Anger, jealousy and fighting ensues. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.  
Rituals of all sorts take place in this, the last tale. Friends, family and gods play a game of chess in this tale of betrayal. You are what you eat.

And the final tale proves to be an interesting one as well. 

Now, this is 1973 and this does seem like a low budget film. However, the stories are fun and the acting works. The "effects" are limited and subtle. In some cases, they are very basic and the eye of the 2012 viewer may be disappointed. I found them to add to the film's charms. That cozy feeling of story wrapping around you and effects not getting in the way.

Mel and Mr. Tiger proved to be the strongest stories for me. The most interesting as well. I saw where Penny Farthing was going, but the various elements that went into it didn't play well together 100% and it made for some disjointed moments. The wrap up was fun, however - it held my interest. Luau was good and dark, but seemed a little long. I would have liked to see some of these stories streamlined a bit, then one more story added to pad it out. I think things would be stronger overall.

If you're looking for a little something that's older and more tame than say SAW, this is for you. Creepy and dark, TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS is a fun 'ole time.

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