Extremely influential and entertaining portmanteau style horror film from Ealing Studios - the first British film of its kind in the 1940s following the ban on production of horror films during the second world war. Part directed by some of top talents of British cinema - Alberto Cavalcanti ("Went the Day Well"), Charles Crichton ("The Lavender Hill Mob"), Basil Dearden ("The League of Gentlemen") and Robert Hamer ("Kind Hearts and Coronets"), it features short supernatural stories that have all since become horror staples - a premonition that averts a fatal accident, an unusual encounter revealed to be supernatural after the event, possession via a malevolent item, a ventriloquist's puppet that may not be as innocent as it first appears, and a man doomed to act out his nightmare over and over again.
For the most part, even though the accents are clipped and the scares mostly suggested and subtle, it really works thanks to excellent pacing, strong performances and some brilliant cinematography.
The inclusion of the comical tale of two golfers, one haunted by the other after cheating on a vital match to decide who will take the hand of the woman they both love is an odd inclusion, featuring the renamed popular double act of Charters and Caldicott from "The Lady Vanishes" played by Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne. It's well done but unfortunately lifts the tension expertly built up by the Haunted Mirror episode - possibly the best of the stories - before leading into the most famous segment featuring Michael Redgrave's twitchy, driven ventriloquist Maxwell Frere and his unpleasantly subversive dummy Hugo Fitch. The real mark of genius is how
all the stories unexpectedly all come together in the framing device, and when the grinning Hugo stands unaided to climb up onto the bed of unfortunate Walter Craig to strangle him - it's absolutely chilling, and a great moment in horror cinema. If you want some old fashioned scares and some masterful examples of subtle suspense this is a must see.