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Three Dangerous Ladies (1977)

| Horror, Mystery | 1988 (USA)
Three unrelated horror shorts from 1975 UK horror anthology series "Classics Dark and Dangerous" edited together into one horror film anthology with three segments. Each story features a woman who willingly or unwillingly spreads evil.

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Simone (segment "The Mannikin")
...
The Butler (segment "The Island") (as Craham Crowden)
Ed Devereaux ...
Ferryman (segment "The Island") (as Ed Deveraux)
...
David (segment "The Mannikin")
Derek Francis ...
Benson (segment "Mrs. Amworth")
...
Santander (segment "The Island")
...
Lt. Simmonds (segment "The Island")
...
Cec Linder ...
Dr. Carstairs (segment "The Mannikin")
Pip Miller ...
David (segment "Mrs. Amworth")
Pol Pelletier ...
Miss Smith (segment "The Mannikin")
John Philips ...
...
Mrs. Santander (segment "The Island")
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Storyline

Three unrelated horror shorts from 1975 UK horror anthology series "Classics Dark and Dangerous" edited together into one horror film anthology with three segments. Each story features a woman who willingly or unwillingly spreads evil. In "Mrs. Amworth", an enigmatic eccentric elderly lady arrives at a small gloomy Sussex village to live in a mansion that was supposedly once owned by her ancestors. She becomes the life of the town by organizing wonderful parties that the villagers come to enjoy. However, strange vampire-like attacks begin occurring in the village around the same time. In "The Mannikin", Simone, a young singer on the rise, starts having strange back pain. Soon, a bizarre growth forms on her back. Terrified, she finds out that it's not a disease per se, but a satanic curse tied to her late estranged mother and her servant and that a horrible demonic creature called the "mannikin" is being reborn through her back. In "The Island" set during a war, Lt. George Simmonds ...

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A trilogy of terror

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Horror | Mystery

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1988 (USA)  »

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Three mediocre TV programs strung together.
20 August 2014 | by (Ohio, USA) – See all my reviews

This isn't a horror anthology in the traditional sense but instead three unrelated short subjects presented as a feature, most likely so it could fill vacant 2 hour slots on television. This same version was released on video by the obscure company S&B Marketing in 1988. It took some digging around on my part since IMDb currently has the info wrong, but all three of the shorts featured here were previously shown on Canadian TV as part of a series entitled "Classics Dark and Dangerous" in 1977. The new opening credits, if you want to call them that, ineptly show snippets from all three shorts, introduce a few of the actors and then insert a new title screen while a deep-voiced narrator attempts to act like there's some kind of recurring theme here: "Three Dangerous Ladies. Lovely Simone, sweet Jenny Santander and the enigmatic Mrs. Amworth all seem so innocent, yet to know them..." After that, the full opening credits for our first story are run, and the full opening credits for the other two shorts are also run when their time comes; each time with silly new narration. It's quite sloppy.

"Mrs. Amworth" was filmed in 1975 (according to IMDb) by director Alvin Rakoff and is based on a story by E.F. Benson. After airing a single time on the CDAD show, it got its own separate VHS release through the company LCA and also became part of this anthology. Glynis Johns has the title role as an elderly eccentric who; claiming to be a descended from a family that lived there many years ago, moves to a tiny Sussex village populated primarily with older residents. Mrs. Amworth's presence, and frequent social gatherings at her mansion, seem to bring life to an otherwise boring little town, but she may be hiding a deep dark secret. Could she possibly have anything to do with a sudden outbreak in strange disorders resulting from a lack of hemoglobin in the blood? John Phillips, Derek Francis and Pip Miller also star in this lightweight, predictable tale.

Next up is "The Mannikin" which is currently listed on IMDb as simply "Mannikin." It's based on a 1937 story by Robert Bloch, which was later ripped off by Graham Masterson for his 1975 novel "The Manitou," which itself became a silly movie directed by William Girdler in 1978. If you ever wondered why Ronee Blakley didn't get much work after NASHVILLE (1975), her awful "performance" in this one is evidence enough. The plot centers around a young singer who begins having severe back pain after her estranged mother passes away. It all has something to do with Satanism, a family curse, a sinister housekeeper and some little demonic critter called a "mannikin" that's reborn out of a massive back tumor that develops on the protagonist's back. Blakley gets to perform her song "Need a New Sun Rising" multiple times and Keir Dullea and Cec Linder co-star.

Finally, we have "The Island," based on a story by L.P. Hartley. Unlike the two previous stories, this currently does not have its own IMDb entry, although it should since it debuted on TV February 3, 1977 before being included in this collection. Of the three shorts, this was the one I was most looking forward to because it features the strongest cast and was directed by Robert Fuest, who has several good genre films to his credit, including AND SOON THE DARKNESS (1970) and THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (1971). Unfortunately, this turned out to be every bit as predictable as the first story and even less entertaining that the silly second one.

While on leave from the war, Lt. George Simmonds (John Hurt) decides to go pay his lover Jenny Santander (Jenny Runacre) a visit. Her home is apparently the only one on a small island that none of the locals want to set foot on, including the ferryman who refuses to touch shore when he drops George off. On his walk there, the path is littered with dead seagulls. When he finally arrives at the house, things get even stranger. Jenny is nowhere to be found and the butler, Collins (Graham Crowden), behaves secretive and his story about Jenny's whereabouts changes. Even stranger, a man claiming to be an electrician (played by Charles Gray) is there and then promptly disappears himself even though he has no way to get off the island. All of this is supposed to build-up to a surprise revelation which sadly isn't the least bit surprising. The actors are fine, but this is just a waste of their collective talent.

All in all, I wouldn't go out of my way to see this one.


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