Tales That Witness Madness

Tales That Witness Madness is a 1973 British horror film produced by Norman Priggen, directed by veteran horror director Freddie Francis, written by actress Jennifer Jayne.

Tales That Witness Madness
Directed byFreddie Francis
Produced byNorman Priggen
Written byJennifer Jayne (as Jay Fairbank)
StarringDonald Pleasence
Joan Collins
Kim Novak
Jack Hawkins
Music byBernard Ebbinghouse
CinematographyNorman Warwick
Edited byBernard Gribble
World Film Services
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
31 October 1973
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The film was one of several in a series of anthology films made during the 1960s and 1970s which included Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965), Torture Garden (1967), The House That Dripped Blood (1970), Asylum (1972), Tales from the Crypt (1972), The Vault of Horror (1973) and From Beyond the Grave (1974). These portmanteau horror films were all produced by Amicus Productions. Tales That Witness Madness is sometimes mistaken for an Amicus production; however, it was actually produced by World Film Services.[1]


In the Clinic link episodes, Dr. Tremayne (Donald Pleasence), a psychiatrist in a modern mental asylum, reveals to colleague Dr. Nicholas (Jack Hawkins) that he has solved four special cases. Tremayne explains the case histories of patients Paul, Timothy, Brian, and Auriol, presenting each in turn to Nicholas:

In Mr. Tiger, Paul (Russell Lewis) is the sensitive and introverted young son of constantly bickering parents Sam (Donald Houston) and Fay Patterson (Georgia Brown). Amid the unhappy domestic situation he befriends an "imaginary" tiger.

In Penny Farthing, antique store owner Timothy (Peter McEnery) stocks a strange portrait of "Uncle Albert" (Frank Forsyth) and a penny farthing bicycle he has inherited from his aunt. In a series of episodes, Uncle Albert compels Timothy to mount the bicycle, and he is transported to an earlier era where he courts Beatrice (Suzy Kendall), who was young Albert's love interest. These travels place Timothy's girlfriend Ann (also Suzy Kendall) in peril.

In Mel, Brian Thompson (Michael Jayston) brings home an old dead tree, which he lovingly calls Mel, mounting it in his modern home as a bizarre piece of found object art. He increasingly shows unusual attention to Mel, angering his jealous wife Bella (Joan Collins).

In Luau, an ambitious literary agent, Auriol Pageant (Kim Novak), lasciviously courts new client Kimo (Michael Petrovich); he shows more interest in her beautiful young daughter Ginny (Mary Tamm). Auriol plans a sumptuous luau for him; when the plans fall through, Kimo's associate Keoki (Leon Lissek) takes over. The luau, as organised by Keoki, is actually a ceremony to assure Kimo's dying mother Malia (Zohra Sehgal) passage to "heaven" by appeasing a Hawaiian god, and a requirement is that he consume the flesh of a virgin: Ginny.

In the Epilogue, Tremayne watches as manifestations of the patients' histories materialise. Nicholas cannot see the manifestations and has Tremayne declared insane, apparently for believing the patients' bizarre accounts. Nicholas enters the patient holding area, and is killed by "Mr. Tiger".


Tales That Witness Madness was filmed at Shepperton Studios on 35 mm, with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It was the last film of Frank Forsyth, who appears as Uncle Albert. Jack Hawkins died shortly after his scenes were filmed. Hawkins had had his larynx removed in an operation in 1966, and here his voice was dubbed by Charles Gray in post-production. (Cavett Binion, All Movie Guide)[2] Tales That Witness Madness was Hawkins' final film appearance.[3]

Kim Novak broke a four-year hiatus from films with her appearance in Tales. She replaced Rita Hayworth shortly after production started.[3]


The Encyclopedia of Horror writes that 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."[3]


  1. Ed. Allan Bryce, Amicus: The Studio That Dripped Blood, Stray Cat Publishing, 2000 p 93
  2. Allmovie
  3. Milne, Tom. Willemin, Paul. Hardy, Phil. (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Horror, Octopus Books, 1986. ISBN 0-7064-2771-8 p 284
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