Release Date(s)1974 (October 8, 2019)
Studio(s)Amicus Productions/Warner Bros (Warner Archive Collection)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: D-
The last of the Amicus horror portmanteau productions (outside of The Uncanny and The Monster Club, both of which were produced without the participation of Max Rosenberg), From Beyond the Grave was also the first film helmed by Kevin Connor, who went on to direct The Land That Time Forgot, The People That Time Forgot, At the Earth’s Core, and Motel Hell, among others.
The story centers around an antique shop run by an older, pipe-smoking gentleman (Peter Cushing). The shop’s first customer, Edward (David Warner), buys an antique mirror. After holding a random séance with his friends, a dark figure in the mirror comes forward and asks him to kill for him. The second customer, Christopher (Ian Bannen), fancies a British Army medal that will impress a former soldier, Jim (Donald Pleasence), and Christopher’s overbearing wife, Mabel (Diana Dors). However, he gets more than he bargained for when he meets Jim’s daughter Emily (Angela Pleasence), who practices witchcraft. The third customer, an arrogant man named Reggie (Ian Carmichael), secretly switches tags on a snuff box. He finds himself soon after followed by a hidden force that attacks his wife Susan (Nyree Dawn Porter), which only an eccentric psychic, Madame Orloff (Margaret Leighton), can fend off. The last customer, William (Ian Ogilvy), buys a mysterious door that he and his wife (Lesley-Anne Down) discover is a way into the room of an occultist (Jack Watson), who wishes to forever trap those who venture there.
From Beyond the Grave is truly the moment when the Amicus train had run its course. There seemed to be little left to conquer in the horror anthology department. The idea of cursed trinkets, or even items with something supernatural about them, certainly feels like the final arrow in the quiver. The stories themselves are a mixed bag, and don’t exactly work well together. That said, there are some interesting moments, including David Warner's murderous rampage via telekinetic control, or Ian Carmichael’s house being turned upside down by Margaret Leighton’s character’s attempt to sever him and his wife from the evil presence within. Overall, it doesn’t have quite as much impact as other Amicus films, but long-time fans of the company’s output (myself among them) still find plenty to appreciate in it—primarily Peter Cushing’s presence.
Warner Archive brings From Beyond the Grave to Blu-ray with a transfer (assumedly taken from an interpositive element) with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Though the film shows its age, the presentation itself is organic and film-like. It’s a major improvement over its DVD counterpart in every way. Grain levels are more pronounced, but resolve nicely. Textures on clothing and facial features are much sharper, allowing for higher levels of detail, in close-ups especially. The color palette is nicely varied, allowing for bold swatches of red, blue, and green to shine through. Blacks are deep and brightness and contrast levels are satisfactory. The image is also stable with little to no damage leftover, other than mild speckling.
The audio is presented in English 2.0 mono DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English SDH. Though limited by its single-source capabilities, it represents the material well with clear dialogue exchanges and a potent score. Sound effects aren’t all that impactful at times, but the various elements are mixed together well with no distortion issues (though the mix pushes it a bit in the final story). The track is also clean, free of any leftover damage including hiss or crackle.
Sadly, the only extra available is the original theatrical trailer. Still, this is a fine A/V upgrade of one of Amicus’ lesser known productions, which is often overshadowed by other titles like Asylum, Tales from the Crypt, and Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors. It’s definitely worth picking up if you’re looking to fill in holes in your Amicus library.
– Tim Salmons