One of the patients in an institution for the incurably insane was once its director, and a young psychiatrist (Robert Powell) has to figure out which
one as they all tell him their stories. What better setting for a horror anthology? It's an inspired framing device, making this one of the better examples of the genre, even if screenwriter Robert Bloch at times resorts to gimmicks rather than invention. The first two stories are less than brilliant (the first is highlighted by dismembered body parts neatly wrapped in butcher paper wriggling back to life for revenge), but Charlotte Rampling and Britt Eklund are marvelous in the third tale, about a mentally unbalanced young woman and her dangerous best friend. Herbert Lom is also excellent in the final story as a scientist who carves an army of dolls he claims he can bring to life by sheer will power.
Director Roy Ward Baker (Quatermas and the Pit) builds momentum with each story until the dark and deliciously bloody climax. This Amicus Studios production looks visually dull compared to Hammer's gothic gloss, but it features a great British cast (including Patrick Magee and Hammer stalwart Peter Cushing), and ultimately Baker makes that gloomy look work for his increasingly creepy production. Amicus produced a series of horror anthologies, including the original 1972 Tales from the Crypt and The Torture Garden (also scripted by Bloch). --Sean Axmaker