Grave Images Blu-ray Review: A Low Budget “Tales from the Crypt” Knock-Off 

Grave Images (1991) has a very cool name but is a very low budget Tales from the Crypt (1972) knock-off. There are four stories in this horror/suspense anthology that are introduced by a “creepy” cemetery caretaker played by director Michael D. Nye (D Nye, I see what he did there). Our ghost host (spoiler alert: at the end we find out he’s got his own open grave to slip into) walks the hallowed grounds with a shiny new lantern and points to foam headstones covered in cotton cobwebs as he does his best to be witty. He shares a bit of how the occupant came to be in his care. The whole thing has an Unsolved Mysteries vibe to it all, like an avid UM watcher said, “let’s mash this up with Tales from the Crypt and have some weirdo who talks to himself quietly in the corner of the mega mall introduce the segments.”

Story one is titled “Made For Each Other” and centers around a literal lady killer named Paul, desperately seeking his Susan. One night, he finds her at a diner, kind of, but she’s looking for a jilter named Jake and beats Paul to the stab. What a twist. Predictable but at least the acting is okay for this type of no-budget fare. 

Story two is called “Art Lover” and features Sally Kirkland and Allen Garfield as a married couple going through a rough patch. Despite those two, the acting is bad or at least the dubbing of Tim Brod as Antony, the fraudulent art dealer, is. Kirkland’s character gets mixed up with Anthony who, unbeknownst to anyone, is hustling her the whole time before he disappears after she shoots her hubby. She only finds out about the hustle while she is downtown rapping with a couple of detectives. She also manages to unwittingly confess to killing Garfield, her husband not the cat. Yawn. There’s a great picture hanging scene that involves a sensual hammer and that’s about all this one has got. 

Story three “Whodunit To Whom” is the comedy entry of the lot and finds some poor dork named Byron (Perry Lang) in need of a ride to work. This confused fellow takes the crowded city bus that’s jam-packed with all kinds of people, from thugs and kooks to working stiffs. Our rider on the storm ends up sitting next to a ranting old coot who pulls a knife and stabs himself while Bryon and he tussle. Every passenger has a different perspective on what happened, thus the silly title, that they relay to the two cops who showed up to assess the scene. While riding down to the station, Byron goes full Norman Bates in the back seat, complete with high-pitched mother voice. Meh. Julius Carry (The Last Dragon, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.) has a small role as one of the cops on site and is the highlight here. 

Story four “Avid Readers” is the tale of two mischievous boys who read too many horror stories and frequent the local used-book store. On one visit, they stumble upon the cover page from some Necronomicon, voodoo occult book, which of course leads to more trouble. Turns out that the book store owner, Mr. Bullfinch, uses that book to practice his voodoo spells on corpses and body parts bought from a local ghoul who may be a certain cemetery caretaker. The kids manage to work their way into old Bullie’s back room and wreak havoc before he finds them and turns them into zombies. The zombie make-up is the highlight in this dud as it looks as if it came from the local Sears Halloween-shop special-effects kit, so does Bullfinch’s hair coloring for that matter. A would-be, great closing bookend story to the movie but the annoying kids and fumbled comedy make this another yawner. 

This direct-to-video stinker gets a Blu-ray release from Leomark with no menu, no extras, no nothing, just start and stop in the media player. Which is fine, really. I do have questions galore, like where did that second segment with Kirkland and Garfield actually come from? Some student short? The credits do mention something about UCLA film school or some such thing and I can’t find any quick Google answers, which is fine as well as I’ll soon forget them along with most of Grave Images. Strike that. I won’t forget Grave Images. It’s got a great name and tons of potential but falls very flat in its 86 minutes of cliches and tired tales. It isn’t a horrible movie but it also isn’t a very good one either. Don’t be fooled by the title or cover art, Save yourselves and skip it. 

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Joe Garcia III

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