Tales That Witness Madness (1973) Poster

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A mixed horror anthology, average at best.
poolandrews12 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
A Rolls-Royce pulls up outside some large metal gates. A sign on a wall next to the gates says 'H.M. Prison Commission, Department of Psychiatric Medicine. Prof. R.C. Tremayne, MD Phd BSc', basically it's an asylum and Tremayne is in charge. Once past the gates and inside the building Dr. Nicholas (Jack Hawkins) congratulates his friend Dr. Tremayne (Donald Pleasence) on his breakthrough. They walk around the asylum and visit four patients who each have a story revolve around them. First up it's a young boy named Paul (Russell Lewis) in a segment called 'Mr. Tiger'.

Paul's parents Faye (Georgia Brown) and Sam Patterson (Donald Houston) are always arguing. Paul's tutor Phillipe (David Wood) tells Faye about Paul's imaginary friend named 'Mr. Tiger' who is unsurprisingly a tiger. Obviously everyone thinks Paul is making it up. That is until Faye finds claw marks on a door............

Nicholas and Tremayne then visit Timothy Patrick (Peter McEnery), which leads us into the second story called 'Penny Farthing'.

Timothy's Aunt has recently died and left him a lot of antiques for his shop which he runs with his wife Ann (Suzy Kendall). Included with the items are a photograph of Timothy's stiff-upper lipped Uncle Albert (Frank Forsyth) and a penny farthing. While working late one night Timothy becomes possessed by Albert who makes him get on the penny farthing and start to peddle. This takes Timothy to another time and place, but for what possible reason.........?

Next up it's Brian (Micheal Jayston) and a short story called 'Mel'.

While out running one day Brian finds a strangely and interestingly shaped log. He drags it home as he thinks he can 'do something with it'. Much to the displeasure of his girlfriend Bella (Joan Collins). Brian becomes obsessed with it. But there seems to be something odd about the log, it's almost as if it were alive. Eventually Bella decides either the log goes or she does, with unexpected results.......

Finally it's Auriol Pageant (Kim Novak) and her segment is called 'Luau'.

Auriol is expecting an important client, an author named Kimo (Micheal Petrovitch) and his assistant Keoki (Leon Lissek) to fly into the country. Auriol decides she has to show him a good time and impress. First of all she takes Kimo and Keoki out to dinner, along with Auriol's daughter Virginia (Mary Tamm). Kimo then starts to take an unhealthy interest in Virginia's personal life. Meanwhile Auriol is planning on having an Hawaiian party as a surprise for Kimo, and the centrepiece being a large pork roast. However, it soon becomes clear that Kimo and Keoki have their own ideas as to what type of meat should be served..........

Back at the asylum there is one final horrifying twist before the end credits roll. Directed by Freddie Francis I thought this was an average anthology and the individual stories themselves are a mixed bag to say the least. One of the problems is the script by Jennifer Jayne as Jay Fairbank. With an anthology film like this the segments need to be short and have a memorable twist at the end, in this case only the story called 'Mel' does. Mr. Tiger is very predictable, as soon as the word tiger is mentioned you know exactly what's going to happen in the end and it's not a surprise when it does. Penny farthing is just plain surreal and bizarre, there is no real explanation as to why Uncle Albert is possessing Timothy, it's merely hinted at. This story also has a very weak ending, I was sitting there waiting for a twist or a startling plot revelation but neither came and it just sort of ended limply. Mel with Joan Collins is easily the best story and tries to have a nice twist at the end, and as a whole the story itself works well as a short and is entertaining to watch Joan battle it out with a tree stump for the affections of Brian. The final story is also really predictable as it starts with Kimo promising to preform a voodoo ritual with a human sacrifice, he turns up at Auriol's house and takes an interest in her daughter Virginia. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out what's going to happen does it? It's generally well made as you would expect of British horror from the 70's. There is no blood or gore in it and only a couple of brief scenes of nudity, one of which involves Joan Collins, but the camera never shows her face while her characters breasts are out. They probably used a body double. Acting is OK from everyone involved. Overall I didn't think too much of it, it's OK but not as good as many other horror anthologies like the House that Drpped Blood (1970), Asylum (1972), the Vault of Horror (1973) or even Creepshow (1982). Probably worth a watch if you can catch it on T.V. but not much else.
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Pretty Tame Anthology
BaronBl00d4 August 2000
Although lacking the genuine chills of other Amicus anthology pictures such as Tales From the Crypt, Asylum, and Vault of Horror, Tales That Witness Madness is still a rather enjoyable romp in the land of the macabre. Once again we have a framing story of some patients being observed by two doctors of sorts...Donald Pleasance and Jack Hawkins, in his last screen role. We are then entertained with four tales...each extraordinary and containing some element of the supernatural. The first story deals with a boy and an invisible tiger. Pretty decent little effort. The second story details how a picture has powers to empower the living to its bidding. I felt this story was set up very nicely and then just left flat, so much more could have been done with it. The third story was an entertaining one about a husband putting aside his wife(Joan Collins no less) for a hunk of a tree. The last story is easily the best. All I really can say is that dinner is served at the luau, voodoo style. The acting is decent throughout and the sets and cinematography is very good.
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Some good moments, but a mostly uninspired anthology.
Hey_Sweden5 October 2014
Dr. Nicholas (Jack Hawkins) arrives at the insane asylum run by the eminent Prof. Tremayne (Donald Pleasence) to hear his absolutely bizarre theories as to how four of his patients ended up there.

The first is young Paul (Russell Lewis), who lived with quarrelling parents Sam and Fay (Donald Houston, Georgia Brown), and who had concocted an imaginary friend dubbed Mr. Tiger. Or is he imaginary?

Next is Timothy (Peter McEnery), whose newly acquired penny farthing - it's a sort of bicycle - is able to transport him back in time, all while a leering portrait of his uncle Albert (Frank Forsyth) watches over him.

Then we meet Brian (Michael Jayston), who frustrates his wife Bella (Joan Collins) by bringing home - and falling in love with (I kid you not) - a tree. A creepy looking tree that seems to be named Mel.

Finally, in the tale that takes up most of the movies' running time, the story of Auriol (Kim Novak) is told. She's having to deal with a rebellious daughter, Ginny (Mary Tamm) while entertaining a writer named Kimo (Michael Petrovitch).

Only the fourth tale, "Luau", has any real kick to it. And it's an appreciably twisted tale indeed. But overall, the segments of "Tales That Witness Madness" are bland and lack style. A shame, given that director / cinematographer Freddie Francis *could* do solid work in this format. Things get a little too silly a little too often, especially in the sequence with Brian and Bella, and the endings are rather predictable. Certainly this excellent cast of familiar faces does some good work; Pleasence is a pleasure to watch as always. And the movies' final moments come complete with yet another twist before the end credits start rolling.

However, if you're looking for a good horror anthology from this period, check out "Asylum" or "Tales from the Crypt" instead.

Five out of 10.
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Four frightening tales of murder, deception, and the occult.
verna5524 September 2000
This stylish horror anthology, made by the same guy who directed the equally effective TALES FROM THE CRYPT a year before, packs a real punch. Each of the four stories are ghoulish and chillingly memorable. The first, MR. TIGER, concerns a little boy who introduces his feuding parents to his "imaginary" tiger. The second, PENNY FARTHING, is about an old-fashioned bicycle which sends its new owner back in time to unveil a sinister crime. The third, MEL(My favorite), has the beautiful and sexy Joan Collins struggling to keep her husband's wandering eyes on her and her alone. The twist is her competition is a tree!!!!! The fourth and final segment, LUAU, is a grisly tale of murder and voodoo rites. Truthfully, the last segment, even though it's the goriest, is probably the weakest, and is notable mainly for the presence of the lovely and talented Kim Novak(VERTIGO) whose first film this was in four years. But each tale is worth viewing, and good fun!
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A hugely enjoyable tongue-in-cheek British horror anthology hoot
Woodyanders11 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Psychiatrist Dr. R.C. Tremayne (the always fine Donald Pleasence) and colleague Dr. Nicholas (Jack Hawkins in his final film role) investigate the case histories of four inmates being kept in an experimental asylum. 1st and most whimsical tale, "Mr. Tiger" - Little boy Paul Patterson (cute Russell Lewis) can't convince his constantly bickering parents (played to snarky perfection by Georgia Brown and Donald Houston) that his "imaginary" tiger friend is actually real. 2nd and most offbeat yarn, "Penny Farthing" - Timothy Patrick (likable Peter McEnery) purchases an antique bicycle which enables him to go back in time to the Victorian era where he meets fair maiden Beatrice (the extremely charming and comely Suzy Kendall). 3rd and most perverse segment, "Mel" - Jeolous, possessive housewife Bella Thompson (the ever classy and lovely Joan Collins) becomes really upset when her husband Brian (solid Michael Jayston) becomes infatuated with a sensuous, but lethal sentient tree (!). 4th and most twisted vignette, "Luau" - Stuck-up rich lady Auriol Pageant (a wonderfully radiant Kim Novak) holds a big bash in which the surprise ingredient in the meat turns out to be none other than her sweet virginal daughter Virginia (the stunningly gorgeous Mary Tamm). Director Freddie Francis, working from a witty and inspired script by British fright film scream queen Jennifer Jayne, handles the macabre material with his customary crisp and polished assurance, punctuating the grisly anecdotes with a nice, dry line in quirky black humor and offering up a fair amount of gore. Norman Warwick's slick, sparkling cinematography gives the picture an attractive glossy look. Bernard Ebbinghouse's alternately groovy and spooky score likewise scores a bull's eye. Deliciously droll fun.
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Creepy movie
eric-14429 March 1999
Creepy British movie has four scary tales about an invisible man eating tiger, a picture that comes alive, a tree that is alive and the last and worst one is about voodoo. Joan Collins is great as a woman fighting for her husband's affection over a tree! The tiger and the picture episodes are good too. Altogether a good creepy movie .
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Just plain silly...
Mike-26325 April 1999
Despite an excellent cast and good production values this (supposed) horror film commits the ultimate sin: it doesn't scare... It's like watching some sit-com level "Twilight Zone" rip-off episode(s)... If you want to enjoy the real thing see one or all of the following: "Tales from the Crypt" (1972) "Asylum" (1972) or "Vault of Horror" (1973)
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Kinda an Amicus film
BandSAboutMovies7 February 2019
Warning: Spoilers
This movie may look like an Amicus movie, but make no mistake. It isn't. But I can't blame anyone that thinks that it is, thanks to its cast and director, Freddie Francis. Its wraparound story is all mental hospital, where Dr. Tremayne (Donald Pleasence) tells Dr. Nicholas (Jack Hawkins, Theater of Blood) about four very special cases and how he solved them.

In the first story, Mr. Tiger, a young boy imagines a new best friend, a talking tiger. His parents argue constantly, so he uses that friend to try and escape.

The second tale - that witnesses madness - is Penny Farthing. Here, an antique store owner Timothy inherits an odd portrait and a penny farther bicycle from his aunt and uncle. Soon, he travels through time and romancing an earlier love interest of his uncle who looks exactly like his girlfriend in our time. That's because they're both played by Suzy Kendall (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage).

Mel, the third part of this film, concerns found object art that a man falls in love with, ignoring his wife Bella (Joan Collins!). Obviously, this man is a complete moron.

Finally, Luau is about a literary agent (Kim Novak, Vertigo) whose daughter is menaced by an author and his associate who plan on serving her daughter for dinner as an "earth pig." Novak replaced Rita Heyworth, who was originally going to be in this part of the film.

Finally, the story is wrapped up when Dr. Nicholas tries to lock up Dr. Tremayne for being as insane as his patients. He's soon eaten by the invisible tiger from earlier. Yep. That really happens.

Sadly, Jack Hawkins died soon after this movie wrapped due to complications from a surgery that was to give him an experimental voicebox. His dialogue is dubbed here by Charles Grey, the narrator of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

There are a few fun moments here, but if you haven't enjoyed a British portmanteau horror before, this probably isn't the one to start with.
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Elegant chiller
Rrrobert21 March 2019
This was actually the first UK portmanteau chiller of the 1970s I saw (on late night TV in the early 1980s). It hooked me into the genre and afterwards I loved seeing Asylum, The House that Dripped Blood, Vault of Horror, etc.

This one is cool and elegant. Like Asylum, some of the tales are fairly predictable, but the excellent framing story (featuring Donald Pleasence acting kind of loopy) redeems things. The House that Dripped Blood in contrast had better tales, but its framing story was less striking.

As with other films of its ilk, the cast of Tales that Witness Madness is great and the actors seem to be having a ball. The story 'Mel' works really well, and Joan Collins is great in it. Kim Novak and Mary Tamm are fun in 'Luau' too.
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A Low Point in Horror Anthologies
josephbrando15 February 2010
Although often mistaken for an Amicus Production, (creators of most of those terrific portmanteu horror films from the 60's and 70's Tales From The Crypt, Vault Of Horror etc...), this is actually not related to that production company, however, it was directed by Hammer and Amicus stalwart, Freddie Francis. I like Francis as a director, really dig Joan Collins and love horror anthology movies in general. But it still took me 3 separate viewings to finish this one. It was just so dull.

Donald Pleasence is dry and monotonous as usual in the framing segment as he takes another doctor on a tour of the mental hospital where he works. He introduces him to four patients, each of whom has a "tale that is supposed to witness madness". These include: a young boy with constantly bickering parents who creates an imaginary playmate - a ferocious lion. A man who receives a penny farthing bicycle that is a time machine. Joan Collins and a rotting piece of tree fighting over a man. And a luau party thrown by a woman who does not realize that her own daughter is the sacrificial guest of honor.

None of the four stories were particularly interesting, the wraparound was dry and there was little to no gore (not that that is so important but at least it would have provided some entertainment). Don't go out of your way to track this one down. It's pretty bad.
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Severely lacking Amicus anthology
The_Void26 October 2006
Freddie Francis directed a lot of the best omnibus films that Amicus had to offer; but unfortunately, this isn't one of them. It would seem that the studio was running out of ideas after the likes of The House that Dripped Blood and The Vault of Horror, as every story in this film feels like an afterthought. The wraparound revolves around a mental home, where Doctor Tremayne is showing someone around his various patients. We then get treated to the story behind how they all got there. These films normally start off with a lacklustre tale, and this one is no different as the first features a young kid with a tiger. Nothing particularly of note for this tale, except for the fact that you'll be hoping it gets better. It does, but only slightly. The second story is completely stupid and also rather boring as we follow an antique store owner who gets a penny farthing bicycle and finds that it's a time machine and he can go back into the past, under the watchful eye of a painting of 'Uncle Albert'. Again, there's nothing particularly of note here and the way it plods out is far from interesting.

The third tale is undoubtedly the best, and is the weird story of a man who falls in love with a tree stump. Aside from the obvious fact that you simply wouldn't bring an old piece of wood into the house (even if you are in a film about madness), this story is pretty good; it's funny enough and interesting in all the right places. It's not enough to save the film in its own right, but had all the segments been as good as this one; Tales That Witness Madness would have been a decent film. The final tale is extremely tedious and succeeds only in bring a slow end to the movie. The final tale follows a weird bloke who is involved in some kind of devilish sorcery. I know I won't remember what happened for long. These films almost always conclude their wraparound stories, and Tales That Witness Madness is no exception. However, like the rest of the film; the conclusion to the wraparound feels a lot like an afterthought and doesn't succeed in bringing any intrigue to a film severely lacking in it. Overall, Tales that Witness Madness features one decent story and three limp ones, and Amicus have certainly done a lot better.
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Predictable but enjoyable
Boris_G5 December 2009
This is not one of those Amicus anthologies which present unexpected twists: three out of the four stories are utterly predictable from their initial set up. But then it's like one of those fairground rides - you see what you're going to get (eg a 25 foot vertical drop), but if you're into that sort of thing you can still get a thrill out of the ride (the last story in particular is quite unpleasant - watching it is like watching an unavoidable car accident in slow motion). While none of the acting is quite on the level that you get from Peter Cushing in particular in anthologies like 'The House that Dripped Blood' or 'Tales from the Crypt', it is consistently good (Joan Collins actually being more believable than in the silly story she appears in for 'Tales from the Crypt'), and Freddie Francis directs these with a good sense of atmosphere and character. One I wouldn't mind seeing again.
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Tales that witness silliness
Prichards123457 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
You would be forgiven for thinking this is another anthology movie from Amicus. Unfortunately they never quite descended to this level of entertaining mind-boggling idiocy in their scripts. This is a fun, watchable, utterly silly movie, with far-fetched plots that have to be seen to be er, witnessed. A really good cast must have been monumentally embarrassed (and short of a few quid) to appear in this.

Our linking narrative concerns Donald Pleasence demonstrating some sort of cure he has found for mental illness to Jack Hawkins. Shades of the Amicus movie Asylum. We have four cases presented for our delectation.

Mr. Tiger. Donald Huston and Georgia Brown have a son who has a fantasy pet tiger. The lad is bothering his parents with stealing meat from the fridge to feed his imaginary pet. Huston, who does nothing but shout a lot when he comes home from work, finally is nagged into confronting his son over it, and his parents discover the tiger is real. Yeah, right...

Our second story concerns an antique dealer dealing with his late aunt's furniture, and discovering an old picture of his uncle and a penny farthing cycle have the power to compel him into the past to relive his uncle getting, er struck by lightning. Director Freddie Francis stages some sort of miracle in making these first two stories utterly watchable.

AND NOW. HERE IT COMES. OUR THIRD CLASSIC. Joan Collins in a career low (and that's saying something if you've seen I Don't Want To Be Born) as a sexpot wife getting cuckolded by... a tree! This episode is hilarious as Joanie gets into a battle of wits with said tree, which resembles a female form...very slightly. No real excuse for her hubby to do her in and replace Joan with the tree in his bed! I'm not kidding. He really does! I think this episode deserves some sort of award for utterly demented script-writing.

Fourth one concerns a cleverly planned human sacrifice during a Hawaiian-themed party set up by Kim Novak for a writer. Nope I did not make that up, either. This one is quite compelling, although Kim obviously let her acting lessons lapse after Vertigo, as she is astonishingly awful. Ed Wood's actors were better. Mary Tamm has some tasteful nudity. Didn't she marry Richard Dawkins - ah no, that was Lalla Ward. Shame!

The whole concoction is utterly daft and yet never boring. Best viewed after about 8 pints in the pub...
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Bland Stories But Each Has at Least One Good Moment
Michael_Elliott9 October 2012
Tales That Witness Madness (1973)

** (out of 4)

In a futuristic asylum, Dr. Tremayne (Donald Pleasence) is talking to another doctor (Jack Hawkins) about four of his most troubled patients. As they're each introduced we hear their story of how they went mad. Up first we have a young boy who has an imaginary friend who just happens to be a tiger but his mother doesn't believe him. Up next is a man who owns an antique shop and goes back in time due to a penny-farthing bike. The third story involves a man who finds a human-shaped tree and brings it home, which doesn't sit well with his wife. The final story involves a man who needs a human sacrifice to protect the soul of his mother. TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS was directed by Freddie Francis and was just one of many anthology tales that were released during this era. While none of the four stories are awful, it's quite clear that none of them are very good either. The biggest problem is that all four stories just never reach a very interesting level and the majority of the time you're just sitting there not really caring what's going on. With that said, each story usually has at least one or two good parts no matter how bland the rest is. The fourth story is probably the weakest but there's a murder sequence that is quite brutal. The third story is laughable but there's a tree attack sequence that really seems to have been lifted by THE EVIL DEAD years later. The film does feature a pretty good cast, including Joan Collins but in the end not even they can save the material. There's no question that this was trying to get in on the TALES FROM THE CRYPT craze but it's too bad that the screenplay lets everyone down.
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A feast of fear for those more afraid of the unknown than the most deadly of screen monsters.
mark.waltz16 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
A stuffed tiger come to life; A mysterious portrait that comes to life and takes those who stare at it back in time; A tree that has a mind of its own; A tasty roast that isn't quite what it seems. Those are all the elements of this multi-part horror film that has plenty of shocks to keep you on the edge of your seat yet not gross you out by the physical. This is psychological horror at its best, at least for a few of the segments. Two psychiatrists (Jack Hawkins and Donald Pleasance) are the forces behind this foursome, having a simple conversation over their cases, with one of them telling the other his strangest cases, all coming together dramatically at the end. A troubled kid takes care of his fighting parents in the first segment (Broadway/London musical star Georgia Brown as the mother), the second segment has a ghostly look back at the past and how it impacts the present with a possible case of spontaneous combustion that occurs in both a lovely day in the park in the early twentieth century and the present day, Joan Collins' hatred of a tree which husband Michael Jayston plants in their living room; A longtime vendetta leaving to a curse that results in a bit of cannibalism of the most shocking way, involving Kim Novak.

How this scores a rating as a good film is the tension that builds in each segment, the first two not as memorable as the last two which are downright outstanding. The segment featuring Collins and Jayston reminded me of the deliciously bad "From Hell It Came" where the soul of an executed man took over a rather odd looking tree, and had me in titters at its final visual. The best, and most horrifying (in a truly bizarre psychological way) is the final where the still beautiful Kim Novak prepares a huge feast that unbeknownst to her results in a voodoo type ceremony where the tasty cuisine isn't a meal fit for human consumption, no matter how good it tastes. Survivors of all four segments are gathered together for the surprising conclusion. The film may lack in graphic horror but there's enough blood for those who fancy that, yet not too much where the squeamish have to look away. This is a horror film for the mind to absorb, and therefore, not one to watch right before you go to bed.
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A lesser but enjoyable horror anthology...
manchester_england200424 August 2017
TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS is a horror anthology in the vain of the ones Amicus produced. It isn't as good or enjoyable as the Amicus films but it is a decent effort nonetheless. It helps that the film continues the tradition of casting well-known British actors to play key roles (Joan Collins, Jack Hawkins, Donald Pleasance and so on), as well as having Freddie Francis, who directed some of Amicus' best anthologies (TALES FROM THE CRYPT for example) on board to direct this one too.

The linking story sees a psychiatrist visiting a colleague who runs an asylum for the insane. The psychiatrist at the asylum explains to the visitor how the inmates arrived there, making it sound as though he's developed a new theory that's a breakthrough in psychiatric thinking. They meet with four of the patients to learn their stories. This flimsy set up is made interesting by the presence of two great actors - Jack Hawkins and Donald Pleasance.

The first story is about a boy who has an imaginary friend; a pet tiger. The boy insists the tiger is real even though no one else can see or hear it. I won't say anything more about this story, suffice to say it has a superb, shocking conclusion.

The second story is about an antiques dealer who has recently acquired a penny farthing that has the ability to transport him back in time when he rides it. At the same time, the guy feels as though the picture of his late uncle Albert is watching him. Could there be a connection? Watch and see since I'm saying nothing more. This story is the most suspenseful and eerie of the four, with Peter McEnery and Suzy Kendall giving good performances.

The third story is the silliest and weakest of the three. A guy called Brian brings back home with him a tree. His wife doesn't like it and it starts to feel as though the tree is actually alive and that Brian is falling in love with it. This premise is even sillier than the story of the murderous piano in TORTURE GARDEN. The story is worth seeing only for the great performance from Joan Collins and a certain interesting scene towards the end of the story, which I won't reveal here of course.

The final story is about a woman named Auriol who organises a luau to impress a writer who has come to stay with her, along with his assistant. Auriol finds herself falling for the writer, but he prefers to be around her daughter instead. The reasons soon become apparent. This is perhaps the best of the four stories. It has a disturbing, macabre edge to it, as well as being an interesting mystery and a great performance by Kim Novak as Auriol. Its ending, which I won't give away of course, is the kind you would find in an EC Comics tale.

The film ends strangely to say the least, different from the way films like these normally finish.

This film certainly makes great use of Freddie Francis' talents in delivering shocks and surprises. There are many moments that linger in the memory long after the film has finished, much to its credit.

Overall, TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS is a slightly different, lesser-known horror anthology compared to the Amicus ones, but very enjoyable nonetheless.
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A disappointing horror anthology with good actors
Mikel317 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
'Tales that Witness Madness', isn't that a great title! Problem is it's the best part of the film. This is another of those horror anthology movies that seemed more popular in the 70s. There are a few I really enjoyed like 'Asylum'. I watch them hoping for more of the same. This one seemed to have real potential with a cast that includes Donald Pleasence, Jack Hawkins, Joan Collins and even Kim Novak. It's another example of how even a good cast can't save a dull movie. The stories are predictable and even laughable at times. It even seemed to me like a comedy spoof of horror anthologies. The first story has been done way too many times. It's about a lonely child's imaginary friend that turns out to be all too real. Then there's a story about a haunted photograph. It made little sense. The most laughable of the stories was the one with Joan Collins. She plays the beautiful and seductive wife of a man who is more in love with a strange looking tree he finds. Yes, I said a tree. He moves it into their living room. Eventually it takes the place of Joan in the bedroom too. Talk about a wooden lover! Yeah this dork actually picks a tree over his beautiful wife. The last film with Kim Novak was too disturbing. Not disturbing because it's scar,y disturbing because I don't like to see bad things happening to good people like what happens to the innocent young girl. Mr. Pleasence and Mr. Hawkins are used in the framing story about two Psychiatrists who are colleagues. One claims to have made some sort of discovery. That is the start of the stories. The surprise ending to the framing story was also predictable. Still at least the finale was a bit scary. I give this movie a generous 4 out of 10.
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Very lame horror anthology
Wizard-829 June 2002
The first and last of the four main stories are shockingly lazy in their scripting - they both come across with them pretty much saying in their beginnings as to what's to happen, and then doing it exactly as they said they would. That's it! No surprises! As for the second and third stories, though they have some element of "twist" to them, the "twists" are pretty feeble. What's really strange about them is that they seem to be going in a different direction - what happened to the guy with the stone face in the second story? Why is the fact the stump shows life in the third story completely abandoned? Don't bother thinking about these things - this movie is so lame and insulting to the intelligence that it doesn't deserve ANY thought.
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Average Anthology
flook757 February 2020
Despite being having a decent cast the film doesn't do anything particularly great but doesn't do anything badly either

Last story in my opinion was the best story but again nothing amazing.

Being a 70's horror I was expecting a bit more gore or jumps from the stories but its light on that front as well.

Better multi story horror films out there, go to them 1st before heading to this one.
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Not great but it holds its own.
GiraffeDoor19 May 2019
Calling this creepy would be an exaggeration but the stories have a more or less compelling charm that I'm struggling to find in the genre these days.

The wraparound is a bit confusing and marred by a glaringly obvious dubbing.

But the stories are distracting enough with their varied settings and subject matter. More like weird fiction back in the day than horror.

I don't think any of the directors were really prepared for the project. They seem to be ready for a news item but they are a but flaccid in the way they visualize the stories and it can feel a bit blunt without any build up and I know the script gave some opportunities to do that.

The stories themselves don't exactly keep their cards close to their chest. They're not subtle and the last one seems like unambitious gore porn.

Not a winner exactly but it goes the distance.
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A weak Amicus-style anthology.
BA_Harrison25 April 2010
The portmanteau/anthology format is very hit and miss with many examples of the genre having at least one weak tale hidden amongst the good ones, or vice versa. Tales That Witness Madness, however, is fairly unique in that every segment—including the bizarre wraparound story—is a dud, meaning that usually dependable horror director Freddie Francis and his seasoned cast of character actors can do very little to prevent the film from being a crushing bore.

Jennifer Jayne's nonsensical script sees Dr. Nicholas (Jack Hawkins) arriving at a futuristic hospital for the insane, where psychiatrist Dr. R.C. Tremayne (Donald Pleasance) is convinced that he has discovered what caused four of his patients to go mad. In order to convince his doubtful colleague, he recounts the details of each case: loony number one is Paul (Russell Lewis), a young boy whose imaginary friend Mr. Tiger proves to be very real indeed, devouring the lad's constantly bickering parents; patient number two, Timothy Patrick (Peter McEnery), loses his marbles after taking a trip into the past on a supernatural penny-farthing that is controlled by the ever-changing portrait of his Uncle Albert; fruitcake three, Brian (Micheal Jayston), kills his gorgeous wife (Joan Collins) in order to get it on with the malevolent tree trunk he brings into his home; and the last nutter is literary agent Auriol Pageant (Kim Novak) whose latest client, Hawaiian writer Kimo (Micheal Petrovitch), is planning a special feast with Auriol's tasty teenage daughter as the main course.

After telling his unbelievable (and dreadfully dull) tales to a still sceptical Dr. Nicholas, the seemingly unhinged Tremayne is escorted to one of his own padded cells; shortly thereafter, Dr. Nicholas is paid a visit by Mr. Tiger!!! Dull, uninspired and cursed with some very lame 'twist' endings, this collection of dreadful tales offers horror fans very little to get excited about—with the exception of one scene that may be of particular interest to Evil Dead fans: Joan Collins' character is attacked by trees and creepers in the middle of a forest, the branches ripping off her clothes and groping her (body double's?) breasts. Sound familiar?

3.5 out of 10, rounded up to 4 for presence of the lovely Joan Collins.
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tiger bicycles to a tree
lee_eisenberg19 December 2012
British studios made a number of anthology horror flicks in the '60s and '70s, and "Tales That Witness Madness" is one of them. It depicts a futuristic asylum in which the owner (Donald Pleasence) tells his colleague (Jack Hawkins, who died right before the movie got released) about the patients and how they went insane.

I didn't like this one as much as movies like "Dr. Terror's House of Horrors" and "The House that Dripped Blood", but it's still entertaining. The tree segment is the neatest one. It just goes to show that horror flicks - even if they're not particularly scary - are best when they're not just scenes of people crawling around making scared faces. I will say that Kim Novak's character seems kind of flat, but the rest of the movie makes up for that. Also starring are Joan Collins and the recently deceased Mary Tamm.

So yes, does anyone love me?
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You Standard 1970s British Anthology -- I Love It
gavin694212 October 2012
Visited by colleague Dr. Nicholas (Jack Hawkins), Dr. Tremayne (Donald Pleasence) explains his amazing and controversial theories as to why each of his four patients went mad... cue four distinct tales each with a different set of characters!

I love anthologies and was therefore instantly interested in this one. My only disappointment was that there were four segments. At 90 minutes, there should probably only have been three. We just never have time to fully develop the stories... (Although, I have to say a decent job was done here.)

Hooray for director Freddie Francis, best known for his work with Hammer. And hooray for Kim Novak, perhaps best known for "Vertigo". The Encyclopedia of Horror says the film "avoids farce and develops a nicely deadpan style of humour which is ably sustained by the excellent cast in which only Novak appears unable to hit the right note." Not sure why they singled her out... I thought she did fine.

Interestingly, this was the last film of both Frank Forsyth and Jack Hawkins, and Kim Novak had been semi-retired when she replaced Rita Hayworth to take her role here.
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It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad … and BAD Anthology!
Coventry16 August 2009
This was the last of the British horror anthology flicks from the late 60's/early 70's that I still had to see, and I intensely searched for it because I've always been a great fan of the Amicus formula. Some of their versatile portmanteau film rank highly among my list of favorites, like "The House that Dripped Blood" and "Asylum", and even the lesser qualitative efforts were nevertheless still very enjoyable. I don't know what exactly went wrong with the stories and set-up of "Tales that witness Madness", but it's a very inferior and severely disappointing film in comparison with all the other British anthology horror films from that era. The main issue lies in Jennifer Jayne's screenplay, which comes up with supernatural-themed stories full of absurd gimmicks, paradoxes and downright crazy situations. It already begins with a wannabe mysterious wraparound story in which a peculiarly behaving doctor – played by Donald Pleasance – guides a fellow doctor through the psychiatric ward of a mental institution and stops to elaborate on four of his heaviest cases. The first story is about an unhappy 8-year-old boy who seeks imaginary friendship with a tiger (!) because his parents continuously argue and neglects his needs. The boring and predictable build-up of the story is more or less compensated through a bloody climax, but "Mr. Tiger" nevertheless remains a senseless and dull quickie that appears to have been improvised at the spot by the actors. The second story opens potentially atmospheric and sinister, with an antique dealer slowly going deranged due to the evil influence of an ancient portrait that he baptized Uncle Albert. The portrait is somehow telepathically linked to a penny-farthing. Whenever the eyes of Uncle Albert force Timothy to ride the hi-wheeler, he gets teleported back in time and reincarnates as the man from the painting. I presume the initial set up was that the guy in the painting wanted him to witness 'something' in the park, but it never gets that far because Timothy's girlfriend sets fire to the penny-farthing. This segment slowly evolves from interesting into infuriatingly bad and ridicule, with time paradoxes and nonsensical symbolism about reincarnation. The third segment is a load of rubbish as well, but at least it's rubbish starring Joan Collins. Her husband develops a strange obsession for a piece of tree that he takes home and puts in the middle of the living room. I don't think that any woman would like a piece of rotting and moist wood in her house, but whenever Bella comes near the thing she suffers from nightmarish visions in which she gets raped in the woods. "Mel" is arguably the best story of the four, but still very silly and unmemorable. The final segment is possibly even twice as boring and inept as the three previous ones combined. By this time, my interest in the film had already vanished, but I seem to remember something about a really ugly guy sacrificing the virgin daughter of a wealthy high- society lady to a phallic statue and serving her flesh at the diner table. Sounds gruesome enough, but the story itself is slow-paced and unimaginably pretentious. "Tales that witness Madness" was one of my personal biggest disappointments ever. None of the stories can hold a candle to even the weakest segments of any other Amicus production and even the experienced veteran director Freddie Francis can't make the film remotely interesting.
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Tales That Provoke Boredom
KuRt-3329 December 2000
A Freddie Francis movie with Kim Novak, Donald Pleasence and Jack Hawkins... how bad can it be? Well, pretty lousy actually.

The movie starts with a car entering a psychiatric hospital. Then we hear from Dr. Tremayne that he's going to show us four extraordinary cases, after which we are subjected to them, in true porte-plumeau style. Err, wait a minute, wasn't there a movie called 'Asylum' (1972), a movie where (to finish this sentence, please re-read the paragraph above). So, by the end of the movie, you're pretty much expecting that the film will end in a similar way. Alas, it doesn't. The ending is even more ludicrous than the four stories you saw before. Yes, it's an invisible tiger. Yes, there's the story of Uncle Albert, a man on a painting who makes his next-of-kin ride on a bicycle (which makes them go back in time where they're observed by Albert, in the shape of a moving statue). Yes, it's a the man who falls in love with a tree (though, as he's married to Joan Collins, we cannot blame him). Yes, it's a man who has to devour the flesh of a maiden. And yes, the ending is even more ludicrous. (Although the last minute itself isn't too bad.)

Jennifer Jayne wrote only two movies (as Jay Fairbank). The other is "Son of Dracula" (1974). Avoid the ludicrous Tales and watch "Son of Dracula" and Roy Ward Baker's "Asylum" instead.
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