The Vault of Horror (film)
|The Vault of Horror|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Roy Ward Baker|
|Produced by||Charles W. Fries, Max Rosenberg|
|Written by||Milton Subotsky (screenplay)|
|Music by||Douglas Gamley|
|Cinematography||Denys N. Coop|
|Editing by||Oswald Hafenrichter|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox
Cinerama Releasing Corporation
|Running time||83 min.|
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.
Framing Story – Five strangers board a descending lift, one by one, in a modern office block in London. They reach the 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 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.
- Daniel Massey as Harold Rogers
- Terry-Thomas as Arthur Critchit
- Curd Jürgens as Sebastian
- Michael Craig as Maitland
- Tom Baker as Moore
- Anna Massey as Donna Rogers
- Glynis Johns as Eleanor Critchit
- Dawn Addams as Inez
- Edward Judd as Alex
- Denholm Elliott as Diltant
- Robin Nedwell as Tom
- Geoffrey Davies as Jerry
- Terence Alexander as Fenton Breedley
- John Witty as Arthur Gaskill
- Ishaq Bux as Fakir
- John Forbes-Robertson as Wilson
- Maurice Kaufmann as Bob Dickson
- Arthur Mullard as Gravedigger
- Mike Pratt as Clive
- Marianne Stone as Jane
- Erik Chitty as Old Waiter
- Tommy Godfrey as Landlord
- Jerold Wells as Waiter
- In the segment "Bargain in Death", the person of Maitland can be seen reading a copy of the novelization of the earlier Amicus film, Tales from the Crypt. The same instalment featured Geoffrey Davies and Robin Nedwell, both appeared on the British TV show Doctor in the House. Mike Pratt has a small part in "Midnight Mess". The same instalment featured a brother and sister as characters. They were played by real life brother and sister actors Anna Massey and Daniel Massey, whose father was the legendary Raymond Massey. The tower featured in the opening scenes is the Millbank Tower in London.
Halliwell's Film Guide described the film as "plainly but well staged." 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."
DVD release 
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 with some of the gorier scenes (notably the final shot of "Midnight Mess", showing Daniel Massey's neck being tapped for blood) removed or altered in order to receive an MPAA PG rating.
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.
- The Vault of Horror at the Internet Movie Database
- The Vault of Horror is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
- The Vault of Horror at AllRovi