The Vault of Horror (film)

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The Vault of Horror
Vault of Horror (1973).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Roy Ward Baker
Produced by Charles W. Fries, Max Rosenberg
Written by Milton Subotsky (screenplay)
Starring Terry-Thomas
Curd Jürgens
Tom Baker
Dawn Addams
Denholm Elliott
Michael Craig
Music by Douglas Gamley
Cinematography Denys N. Coop
Edited by Oswald Hafenrichter
Production
  company
Amicus Productions
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Cinerama Releasing Corporation
Release date(s)
  • March 1973 (1973-03)
Running time 83 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Vault of Horror (otherwise known as Vault of Horror, Further Tales from the Crypt and Tales from the Crypt II) is a British anthology horror film made in 1973 by Amicus Productions. Like the 1972 Amicus film Tales from the Crypt, it is based on stories from the EC Comics series written by Al Feldstein and Bill Gaines. The film was directed by Roy Ward Baker, and filmed on location and at Twickenham Studios.

The film stars Terry-Thomas, Dawn Addams, Denholm Elliott, Curd Jürgens, Tom Baker, Michael Craig, Terence Alexander, Glynis Johns, Mike Pratt, Robin Nedwell, Geoffrey Davies, Daniel Massey and Anna Massey.

None of the film's stories are actually from Vault of Horror comics. All but one appeared in Tales from the Crypt, the exception being from Shock SuspenStories. The film omits the Vault Keeper character from the comics.

Plot[edit]

Framing Story

Five strangers board a descending lift, one by one, in a modern office block in London. They reach the sub-basement, though none of them have pressed for that destination. There they find a large, elaborately furnished room which appears to be a gentlemen's club. The lift door has closed and there are no buttons to bring it back, nor any other exit. Resigned to waiting for help, they settle down with drinks and talk. The conversation turns to dreams, and each man tells of a recurring nightmare.

Midnight Mess (Tales from the Crypt #35)

Harold Rodgers (Daniel Massey) tracks his sister Donna (Anna Massey) to a strange village and kills her to claim her inheritance. After settling down for a post-murder meal at the local restaurant, he discovers the town is home to a nest of vampires: Donna is not as dead as he thinks, and he becomes the dish of the night when his jugular vein is tapped out as a beverage dispenser.

The Neat Job (Shock SuspenStories #1)

The obsessively neat Arthur Critchit (Terry-Thomas) marries Eleanor (Glynis Johns), a young trophy wife who is not quite the domestic goddess he hoped for. His constant nagging about the mess she makes eventually drives her mad. Upon his shouting at her, "Can't you do anything neatly?", she kills him with a hammer and cuts up the corpse, putting all the different organs into neatly labelled jars.

This Trick’ll Kill You (Tales from the Crypt #33)

Sebastian (Curd Jürgens) is a magician on a working holiday in India, where he and his wife are searching for new tricks. Nothing impresses until he sees a girl charming a rope out of a basket with a flute. Unable to work out how the trick is done, he persuades her to come to his hotel room, where he and his wife Inez (Dawn Addams) murder her and steal the enchanted rope. Sebastian plays the flute, and the rope rises; Inez climbs it, only to disappear with a scream. An ominous patch of blood appears on the ceiling, and the rope coils round Sebastian's neck and hangs him. Their victim reappears alive in the bazaar.

Bargain in Death (Tales from the Crypt #28)

Maitland (Michael Craig) is buried alive as part of an insurance scam concocted with his friend Alex (Edward Judd). Alex double-crosses Maitland, leaving him to suffocate. Two trainee doctors Tom (Robin Nedwell) and Jerry (Geoffrey Davies) bribe a gravedigger (Arthur Mullard) to dig up a corpse to help with their studies. When Maitland's coffin is opened, he jumps up gasping for air, causing Tom and Jerry to run out into the middle of the road in front of Alex's car, which crashes. The gravedigger kills Maitland and when trying to close the sale of the corpse apologises to Tom and Jerry for the damage to the head.

Drawn and Quartered (Tales from the Crypt #26)

Moore (Tom Baker) is an impoverished painter living on Haiti. When he learns that his work has been sold for high prices by dealers and critics who told him that it was worthless, he goes to a voodoo priest and his painting hand is given voodoo power; whatever he paints or draws can be harmed by damaging its image. Returning to London, Moore paints portraits of the three men who cheated him, and mutilates them to exact his revenge. His undoing is a self-portrait he had half-finished before receiving the gift; it too is enchanted, and he is killed when a workman drops a can of paint thinner on it through a skylight.

When the story of the final dream is told, the five ponder the meaning of their nightmares. The lift door opens, and they find themselves looking out onto a graveyard. They walk out, becoming decomposing corpses, and disappear one by one. Sebastian (Jürgens) explains that they are damned souls doomed to tell the story of their evil deeds for all eternity, turns back into the room (which is now the inside of a tomb with a coffin in the center) and shuts the door behind him.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Reception[edit]

Halliwell's Film Guide described the film as "plainly but well staged."[1] Radio Times gives the film two stars out of five, describing it as a "formulaic horror movie...British actors such as Terry-Thomas and Daniel Massey bring a touch of class to an otherwise pedestrian production."[2]

Box Office[edit]

The film was a box office disappointment.[3]

DVD release[edit]

A shot of the deleted ending

Together with Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror was released on a "Midnight Movies" double feature DVD on 11 September 2007. The version used is the edited, 1974 US theatrical release which replaced some of the gorier scenes with still images (notably the final shot of "Midnight Mess" showing Daniel Massey's neck being tapped for blood, and Terry Thomas dropping from a hammer blow in "The Neat Job") to receive an MPAA PG rating. The UK Vipco DVD release featured the original uncut UK print.

An uncensored version was first shown on the British TV channel Film4 on 25 August 2008; however, this version still omitted a shot from the original closing sequence, in which the characters who walk to the graveyard are seen with dead, skeletal faces. It may be that this shot has been lost: no prints with it intact have ever surfaced, and there is no evidence it was ever included in the final release prints.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Halliwell's Film Guide, 13th edition – ISBN 0-00-638868-X.
  2. ^ "The Vault of Horror". Radio Times. Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  3. ^ Ed. Allan Bryce, Amicus: The Studio That Dripped Blood, Stray Cat Publishing, 2000 p 110-117

External links[edit]