The Haunt of Fear
|The Haunt of Fear|
|Publication date||May/June 1950 - November/December 1954|
|No. of issues||28|
|Created by||William Gaines|
The Haunt of Fear was an American bi-monthly horror comic anthology series published by EC Comics in 1950. Along with Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror, it formed a trifecta of popular EC horror anthologies. The Haunt of Fear was sold at newsstands beginning with its May/June 1950 issue. It ceased publication with its November/December 1954 issue, compiling a total of 28 issues.
American horror comics emerged as a distinct comic book genre after World War II. At this time, US young adult males lost interest in caped crime fighters. Also, returning GIs demanded titillating sex and violence in their reading. One-shot Eerie (1947) is generally considered the first true American horror comic. Its cover depicted a dagger-wielding, red eyed ghoul who threatened a rope-bound, scantily clad, voluptuous young woman, beneath a full moon. In 1948, Adventures Into the Unknown became the first regularly published horror title. It enjoyed a nearly two decade life-span. Fiction House had a regular horror series with Werewolf Hunter starting in 1943 that appeared in its comic Rangers Comics.
In 1950, publisher Gaines and his editor, Al Feldstein, discovered they shared similar tastes in horror. They first began experimenting with horror tales as features in their existing titles, such as Crime Patrol, which was briefly retitled The Crypt of Terror and finally Tales from the Crypt, by which point the horror genre had become predominant. (In the early 1950s, comic book publishers, seeking to save money on second-class postage permits, frequently changed the titles of their comics, rather than start new ones at "#1"). An EC Western comic book series called Gunfighter (which itself had originated with #5, having adopted the numbering from Fat & Slat) was similarly rechristened The Haunt of Fear with issue #15. The Haunt numbering was reset after #17 (3), as explained in the letter column of issue #4: "After publishing issues 15, 16 and 17, the United States Post Office requested that the fourth issue actually be numbered No. 4 rather than No. 18... Well, 'ya can't fight City Hall!'" (The EC war comic Two-Fisted Tales took over the old Haunt numbering, starting with issue #18, and itself never ended up resetting). For this reason, even within the same original 1950s series, there are actually two separate issues each of The Haunt of Fear #15, 16, 17.
Artists and writers
Artist Graham Ingels took over the art duties of the Haunt of Fear starting with issue #4. He became the Old Witch's primary artist for the remainder of the comic's run, though his art had been appearing since the second issue. Ingels would take over the cover duty with issue #11, in February 1952. Other artists who contributed to the title were Feldstein, Johnny Craig, Wally Wood, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Davis, George Roussos, Harry Harrison, Joe Orlando, Sid Check, George Evans, Reed Crandall, Jack Kamen and Bernard Krigstein. Ingels' artwork on the eight page lead stories, and his splash pages, particularly on issues #14 and 17, set a new standard for horror illustration. These have rarely if ever been equaled since.
"Poetic Justice", in the twelfth issue, was adapted for the 1972 Tales From the Crypt film from Amicus Studios, in England. The movie starred Peter Cushing as the kindly old junk collector. Ingels drew "Wish You Were Here" from Haunt #22. It was also adapted for film. "Horror We? How's Bayou?" in issue #17 is considered by many E.C.'s best drawn horror story ever. Perhaps it is the best by anyone, in any era. The homicidal maniac's creepy visage was taken from an old movie still of the silent film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which starred John Barrymore. The story artwork won an award as best E.C. horror art at the 1972 E.C. Fan-Addict Convention.
Gaines and Feldstein were responsible for writing all of the stories until the end of 1953. An unauthorized adaptation of Ray Bradbury in another one of EC's comics. eventually led to a series of authorized Bradbury adaptations. Features included "Grim Fairy Tales", horror based parodies of well known fairy tales such as Sleeping Beauty and Hansel and Gretel. The parodies began appearing in issue #15, in 1952.
The title's most controversial story was "Foul Play" (#19, 1953). It was written by Feldstein and drawn by Davis. It featured a crooked baseball player being dismembered, with his body parts used to play baseball by his murderers. The story was singled out by Robert Warshow in his 1954 essay "Paul, the Horror Comics, and Dr. Wertham". He described it as "the outer limits of ... 'good taste'." It was also one of many examples used by Fredric Wertham in his book Seduction of the Innocent. Author Grant Geissman used the title of the story for his book on EC artists, Foul Play (2005).
Influences and adaptations
As with the other EC comics edited by Feldstein, the stories in this comic were primarily based on Gaines reading of a large number of horror stories and using them to develop "springboards" from which he and Feldstein could launch new stories. Specific story influences that have been identified include the following:
- "The Wall" (issue 15 ) - Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat" and "The Tell-Tale Heart"
- "The Hunchback" (issue 4) - Robert Bloch's "The Mannikin"
- "A Strange Undertaking" (issue 6) - Ray Bradbury's "The Handler"
- "Horror in the Schoolroom" (issue 7) - John Collier's "Thus I Refute Beelzy"
- "Hounded to Death" (issue 8) - Maurice Level's "The Kennel"
- "Irony of Death" (issue 8) - Bram Stoker's "The Squaw"
- "Warts So Horrible?" (issue 9) - Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
- "Forbidden Fruit" (issue 9) - William Hope Hodgson's "The Voice in the Night"
- "The Gorilla's Paw" (issue 9) - W. W. Jacobs's "The Monkey's Paw"
- "Ship-Shape" (issue 14) - William Hope Hodgson's "The Derelict"
- "Thump Fun" (issue 20) - Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart"
- "Wish You Were Here" (issue 22) - W. W. Jacobs's "The Monkey's Paw"
- "Model Nephew" (issue 22) - H. P. Lovecraft's "The Terrible Old Man"
After their unauthorized adaptation of one of Ray Bradbury's stories in another magazine, Bradbury contacted EC about their plagiarism of his work. They reached an agreement for EC to do authorized versions of Bradbury's short fiction. These official adaptations include:
- "The Coffin" (issue 16)
- "The Black Ferris" (issue 18)
The Old Witch
Although EC's horror stable consisted of three separate magazines, there was little beyond their titles to distinguish them. Each magazine had its titular host, but the hosting duties for any one issue were typically shared with the hosts of the other two. Thus, a single issue of The Haunt of Fear would contain two stories told by the Old Witch, one by the Crypt-Keeper (of Tales from the Crypt) and one by the Vault-Keeper (of The Vault of Horror). The professional rivalry between these three GhoulLunatics was often played for comic effect.
The Old Witch was the last to make her appearance. The first issue of The Haunt of Fear had no host. The second issue debuted The Witch's Cauldron feature, with the Old Witch introducing herself in a story drawn by artist Jack Kamen. The third issue featured a Craig cover depicting three GhoulLunatics stepping out of doorways and launched a letter column, "The Old Witch's Niche." Thereafter, the Old Witch presided over the magazine as its comedic horror host, delivering an irreverent and pun-filled commentary to lighten the horrific tone of the stories she introduced. In spite of her slow start, the Old Witch would prove to be the most visible of the GhoulLunatics in their initial run. Not only did she appear in virtually every issue of The Haunt of Fear, Tales From The Crypt and The Vault of Horror, she also appeared in the final story of Crime SuspenStories in every issue from #3 through #16.
The character of the Old Witch was inspired by Old Nancy, the witch of Salem, host of Alonzo Deen Cole's radio series, The Witch's Tale, which aired from 1931 to 1938 on WOR and Mutual, and in syndication. The Old Witch's own account of her origin may be found in The Haunt of Fear #14's "A Little Stranger!" which details the circumstances surrounding her birth.
In 1954, Gaines and Feldstein intended to add a fourth book to their horror publications by reactivating an earlier title, The Crypt of Terror. They were stopped dead in their tracks, however. Horror and other violent comics had come under scrutiny by parents, schoolteachers, clergymen, psychologists and others, who viewed the material as dangerous to the well-being of children. They believed comic books were a significant contributor to the juvenile delinquency crisis in America. Matters came to a head in April and June 1954 with a highly publicized Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency. Hearings targeted violent comic books, which fared poorly in the proceedings. While the committee stopped short of blaming the comics industry for juvenile delinquency, they did suggest it tone down the product. Publishers were left reeling.
The industry deftly avoided outside censorship by creating the self-regulatory Comics Magazine Association of America (CMAA) and a Comics Code Authority (CCA) that placed severe restrictions on violent comic book genres. Publishers were forbidden from using the words "terror" and "horror" in titles. They were forbidden from depicting zombies, werewolves, gruesome characters and outrè horror fiction trappings. Gaines was fed up; he believed his titles were being specifically targeted and realized they were doomed to future failure. He cancelled The Haunt of Fear and its companion titles in September 1954. The last issue of Haunt was #28, November/December 1954. Since an issue of The Crypt of Terror had already been produced, it was published as the final issue of Tales from the Crypt, February/March 1955.
The Haunt of Fear has been reprinted on numerous occasions. Ballantine Books reprinted selected Haunt stories in a series of paperback EC anthologies in 1964-66. The magazine was fully collected in a series of five black-and-white hardbacks by publisher Russ Cochran as part of The Complete EC Library in 1985. In 1990/91, Cochran (in association with Gladstone Publishing and solo) reprinted a handful of color issues. Between November 1992 and August 1998, Cochran and Gemstone Publishing reprinted the full 28 individual issues. This complete run was later rebound, with covers included, in a series of six softcover EC Annuals. Cochran Publishing and Gemstone Publishing planned to publish hardcover, re-colored volumes of The Haunt of Fear as part of the EC Archives series, until Gemstone's financial troubles left this project in limbo. But the series has since been revived by GC Press LLC, a boutique imprint established by Russ Cochran and Grant Geissman, and The Haunt of Fear Volume 1 was released in January 2012.
Stories from The Haunt of Fear were adapted for the movie version of Tales From the Crypt as well as the TV series.
Stories which were adapted for the television series include: "House of Horror" (#15(1)), "Television Terror" (issue #17(3)), "Ear Today...Gone Tomorrow" (#11), "On a Dead Man's Chest" (#12), "Till Death Do We Part" (#12), "What's Cookin" (#12), "Death of Some Salesmen" (#15), "Lover Come Hack To Me" (#19), "Dig That Cat...He's Real Gone" (#21), "Creep Course" (#23), "Only Sin Deep" (#24), "The Secret" (#24), "The New Arrival" (#25), "Spoiled" (#26), "Comes The Dawn" (#26) and "About Face" (#27).
Bill Gaines owned one of sculptor Steve Fiorilla's latex masks of the Old Witch. In the second season of HBO's Tales from the Crypt anthology television series, a photo of this Old Witch mask was a prop. This was in the June 26, 1990, "Korman's Kalamity" episode, adapted from the EC story "Kamen's Kalamity." Illustrated by Jack Kamen, the original self-satirical story is set in EC's offices, where the EC editors have a meeting with Kamen about his artwork.
|Issue #||Date||Cover Artist||Story Title||Story Artist||Story Host|
|15(1)||May/June 1950||Johnny Craig||The Wall||Johnny Craig||None
A man finds his wife's love for her cat Snooky unbearable, and finally decides to take care of the problem once and for all, but soon finds he's slowly slipping into insanity when his imagination gets the best of him...
|House of Horror||Harvey Kurtzman||None
A fraternity initiation goes eerily wrong, when the initiates are told to walk through a supposed haunted house...but never come out.....
|The Mad Magician||Wally Wood & Harry Harrison||None
Boris Petaja, a skilled magician, begins to kidnap innocent townspeople to use in his experiments with a real "saw a man in two" trick, but finally meets his match after he kidnaps a young couple.
|The Thing in the Swamp!||Al Feldstein||None
A swamp hermit relates a tale of a group of scientists that freed an amoeba that ate everything in its path to two boaters, but that's just a myth...right?
|16(2)||July/August 1950||Johnny Craig||Vampire!||Johnny Craig||None
A doctor insists that the body he examined was killed by a vampire, but no one in town will believe him, so he goes to the mansion, the body came from and finds that there really is a vampire, but who's really the vampire...?
A shopkeeper relates a story to a customer about his quest with his business assistant to Africa to collect some real shrunken heads from a native tribe, but when they are caught stealing, they learn the true punishment...
|The Killer in the Coffin!||Graham Ingels||None
Ernest Parker grows tired of his nagging wife Nan, and meets a young dame named Faye, together they plan going off and getting married, but they have to get Nan out of the picture, so Ernest coughs up a plan to pretend to die, but not everything goes as planned...
|The Mummy's Return!||Jack Kamen||Old Witch
Over a thousand years ago, a jealous pharaoh king had one of his servants mummified after the girl he loved, fell in love with the servant, but the girl found out and tried to revive him with a scribe, only to be offed by the king. In the present, three friends stumble upon the crypt, and find that history has a nasty way of repeating itself!
|17(3)||September/October 1950||Johnny Craig||Nightmare!||Johnny Craig||None
You as reader take the role of a man afflicted with recurring nightmares about being buried alive. Your psychiatrist assures you it's all in the mind but can you tell when your nightmares will begin to spill over into the day?
|Television Terror!||Harvey Kurtzman||None
An arrogant reporter does a story on a famous haunted house ... and learns the hard way that some things should just be left alone.
|Monster Maker!||Graham Ingels||None
Dr Ravenscar, a disgraced surgeon, retreats to his family castle to plan his comeback. He wants to prove he can bring a man back from the dead, but things take a turn for the worse when he damages the corpse's brain and has to make a last-minute substitution.
|Horror Beneath the Streets!||Al Feldstein||Old Witch
The story of how Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein met the Crypt Keeper, Vault Keeper and Old Witch in a sewer, and were "persuaded" into giving them a publishing deal.
|4||November/December 1950||Al Feldstein||The Hunchback!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
Roger Compton goes to a small town to visit his old college friend, Peter, but finds that his old pal in now the most feared recluse with a peculiar hump on his back, and an even more peculiar taste for human flesh...
|The Tunnel of Terror!||Jack Kamen||The Vault-Keeper
A young woman takes her alcoholic, partying brother to Mexico for a relaxing vacation, but when he disappears into an underground club named The Tunnel, and numerous bodies are found partially eaten, she decides to find him on her own.
|The Living Mummy||Jack Davis||Old Witch
A group of scientists working on an experiment to raise a mummy back to life, actually revive it, only to learn the true horror of the pharaoh's curse!
|Man from the Grave!||Wally Wood||Crypt-Keeper
Jon Wayland, a painter, returns from the grave to keep on painting, for all of eternity after committing a crime against his friend.
|5||January/February 1951||Johnny Craig||A Biting Finish!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
A jealous man murders a young man over a girl, and buries him in an old graveyard. But soon his little secret comes out, and he's forced to hide in an old civil war tunnel, a tunnel that leads him straight to a "biting finish"...
|Horror in the Freak Tent!||Wally Wood||Crypt-Keeper
A crude, malicious circus owner mistreats and sabotages his circus freaks and employees, all until he blinds one of his famed employees, then the tables are turned...
|A Tasty Morsel!||Jack Davis||Old Witch
You're the main character story in which you seek shelter in a giant inn owned by an old, ugly man, and find out he has a little secret that's just DYING to come out!
|Seeds of Death!||Johnny Craig||The Vault-Keeper
A hobo finds a hand in the garbage at a city dump, a hand that belonged to a ruthless abusive man who murdered his wife's hired farmhand...
|6||March/April 1951||Johnny Craig||A Strange Undertaking...||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
Ezra, a vengeful caretaker decides to get back at his enemies when they die and are brought to his cemetery, by desecrating their bodies and refusing to bury them till spring, but not if the dead have anything to say about it!
|So They Finally Pinned You Down!||Wally Wood||The Vault-Keeper
A man meets a beautiful girl after he arrives to a new town and moves in with her, but after being "drugged" by her, and having severe blackouts, he sets out to get revenge, problem is whenever he blackouts, a woman ends up dead...
|A Grave Gag!||Jack Kamen||Old Witch
Jonah Westlake, the black sheep of the Westlake family, gets his kicks by playing practical jokes on his own kin, especially at funerals, but his latest joke may be his last...
|Cheese, That's Horrible!||Jack Davis||Crypt-Keeper
Bradbury Prince assists for Henrick Villhem, the head owner of a cheese company, but when he won't tell Bradbury the secret ingredient, he decides to do away with Henrick, but something smells rotten...
|7||May/June 1951||Johnny Craig||Room For One More!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
Rodney Whitman was just a young boy when his parents died and he was sent to live with his uncaring aunt and uncle, and their two mean sons. The only thing that kept him going was the thought of being buried with his family in the Whitman mausoleum, a mausoleum with just one more coffin, which Rodney is saving for himself at any cost...
|The Basket!||Jack Davis||Crypt-Keeper
A town full of curiosity at a strange man who always carries a basket on his shoulder, get the answers they've been searching for when they break into his house.
|Horror in the Schoolroom||Jack Kamen||Old Witch
A young boy's teacher doesn't believe the stories the kid comes up with about traveling with an imaginary monster named Magog, even when the boy tells him Magog will gobble him up for whipping him. The teacher should have heeded the warning...
|The Howling Banshee!||Johnny Craig||The Vault-Keeper
A retired mob member marries into a superstitious Irish family who are convinced that a banshee wails when one of their kin will die soon, but that's just an old legend...right?
|8||July/August 1951||Al Feldstein||Hounded to Death!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
A jealous husband keeps his wife locked up in their mansion like one of the numerous hounds he uses to hunt foxes with, but when she falls for another man, the husband decides to take care of the problem, only to find he's barking up the wrong tree..
|A Very Strange Mummy!||George Roussos||Vault Keeper
Three expeditors travel to an acursed crypt rumored to hold an evil being, but when they venture inside they find a perfectly preserved mummy, and soon find that he's not the only monster lurking about...
|Diminishing Returns!||Edwin J. Smalle||Old Witch
Vincent Beardsley, a greedy New Yorker, seeking the fourth tribal diamond for his collection, takes his friend to Ecuador to claim the gem, but when they're caught by the tribe themselves, he gives up his "friend" to the vengeful tribalmen, only to find he must face the ultimate consequence!
|The Irony of Death!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
Jeff Slag, a conniving young man working at an iron mill, marries his boss's daughter, in order to become the head owner and boss of the mill, and murders his boss, only to find that there really is irony in death!
|9||September/October 1951||Al Feldstein||Warts So Horrible?||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
Two men attempt to rob their wealthy uncle's grave as revenge for his not leaving them any of his money. They are witnessed by a pair of young boys who have gone to a graveyard to test out an old wives' remedy for removing warts - but is it just magic or can the boys really believe their eyes?
|Forbidden Fruit||Joe Orlando||Vault Keeper
A man and his secretary are marooned on a deserted island following a plane crash. They ignore a warning not to eat any fruit from the trees growing on the island; with consequences neither of them could have foreseen.
|The Age-Old Story!||Jack Kamen||Old Witch
Gold-digging Harriet plans to ditch her elderly husband to move in with a younger lover, but her husband has one final surprise for her before she goes.
|The Gorilla's Paw!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
A man acquires a gorilla's mummified paw and discovers it can grant him anything he wishes for. Unfortunately, he does not always think before he wishes aloud.
|10||November/December 1951||Al Feldstein||Grave Business!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
A greedy undertaker extorts money from the families of the dead by charging them for the most overpriced funerals possible. He finds the tables turned when he uncovers a previously hidden talent of his own for "playing dead."
|The Vamp!||Jack Davis & Johnny Craig||Vault Keeper
While on holiday, a man begins a flirtation with a beautiful yet mysterious woman; but notices that she tends to appear whenever there is a murder in the local area.
|My Uncle Ekar!||Jack Kamen||Old Witch
An abandoned child is taken in by the police. He tells them about his "Uncle Ekar" who has three eyes, a forked tongue and commits murders. The cops do not believe the boy's story ... until they find a body exactly where he described it ...
|Bum Steer!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
A washed-up bullfighter wants to get rid of a newcomer who has taken over both his spotlight and his sweetheart. The rival bullfighter dies and so does the bull, but now they are both set on revenge.
|11||Jan/February 1952||Graham Ingels||Ooze in the Cellar?||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
An elderly miser hoards treasures in his cellar and refuses to give anything to anybody. He insists that his wife save canned food rather than give it away and when she is poisoned by a jar of rotted fruit, it and her body create a living ooze that soon swallows up the cellar and everything else in the house.
|The Acid Test!||Jack Kamen||Vault Keeper
Sylvia becomes so fed up with her fawning, over-devoted husband that she blinds him with sulphuric acid. He is so infatuated with her that at her trial he pleads for her to be released, but she had not considered that he might want justice outside of the law.
|Extermination||George Roussos||Old Witch
A sadistic pest exterminator finds himself on the receiving end when he is surrounded by the creatures he once loved to torture.
|Ear Today... Gone Tomorrow!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
Two fertilizer salesmen face problems when no one will sell them the goods to fill a massive order for bone meal. They decide to use bones from the local cemetery despite stories about the cemetery being haunted, but meet their comeuppance when their car breaks down near a field of corn.
|12||March/April 1952||Graham Ingels||Poetic Justice!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
A lonely old man is tormented mercilessly by a wealthy father and son who want him evicted from his house so they can build over the land. He is driven to suicide but returns from the grave exactly a year to the day he died - Valentine's Day.
|...On A Dead Man's Chest!||Johnny Craig||Vault Keeper
Unaware that his wife is having an affair with his younger brother, an old sailor decides to have a picture of the three of them together tattooed on his chest. He is murdered by his wife and brother, who try to cover up their crime, only to find there's one piece of "evidence" they cannot hide ...
|Till Death Do We Part!||Joe Orlando||Old Witch
Tommy and Ernie commit an armed robbery. Ernie is shot while escaping from the police and tries to send for help, but why does no one seem to listen to him?
|What's Cookin'?||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
Two failing restaurant owners manage to turn their business around with the help of a mysterious stranger. They become a roaring success, but when he demands half the profits, they decide to get him out of the way. Little do they know he has one more dish left to serve.
|13||May/June 1952||Graham Ingels||For the Love of Death!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
A lonely man decides to take the place of the corpse at a funeral so he can enjoy the eulogies and ceremony for the deceased. Assuming, of course, that he can get out of the coffin again ...
|Fed Up!||Johnny Craig||Vault Keeper
A carnival sword-swallower pulls a unique trick on her husband when he spends all the money she was saving for a new sword on junk food for himself.
|Minor Error!||Jack Kamen||Old Witch
A gang of neighborhood kids become friendly with a new boy in town. They believe his uncle is the vampire responsible for a string of strange killings nearby but how much do they really know about vampires?
|Wolf Bait!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
In early 20th century Russia, some hunters are being pursued by a pack of ravenous wolves and their sleigh is too heavy for them to escape. They soon run out of bullets, and decide there's only one way out of the situation.
|14||July/August 1952||Graham Ingels||A Little Stranger!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
The Old Witch recounts the story of how her dead werewolf father and dead vampire mother fell in love and brought her into the world.
|Take Your Pick!||Jack Kamen||Vault Keeper
Stuart Braden has always boasted about having a "heart of ice." When his brutal cruelty results in the deaths of his dog, his mother-in-law and his former business partner, his wife decides to make his words come ironically true.
|Ship-Shape!||Sid Check||Old Witch
Four survivors of a plane crash are out at sea when they find an abandoned ship. They climb on board but the frightening oozy substance that covers the ship doesn't want them to leave.
|This Little Piggy...||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
During the rule of the British Raj in India, the grandson of an English governor is banned from hunting wild boar because the local tribesmen hold them sacred. He is determined to bring home the head of a boar as a trophy, but is unaware of just how far the tribesmen will go to stop him.
|15||September/October 1952||Graham Ingels||Chatter-Boxed!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
An elderly man begins to suffer from catalepsy, which makes him appear to be dead when he is not. He leaves instructions to be buried with a telephone if he "dies", just in case he's not really dead. There's no way this plan could go wrong, or so he thinks.
|All Washed Up!||George Evans||Vault Keeper
Harry kills his wealthy love rival and decides to steal the corpse's ring so he can sell it and use the money to marry his sweetheart. But when trying to dispose of the body in a well, he drops the ring too, and now he's going to have to go down and get it ...
|Marriage Vows!||Jack Kamen||Old Witch
A king agrees to marry off his daughter to the ruler of a neighbouring kingdom so they can obtain a loan and refill the royal treasury. The princess is unhappy and wants to marry Prince Dashing instead, but then remembers that she only agreed to give her "hand" in marriage.
|Death of Some Salesmen!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
A door-to-door salesman gets more than he bargained for when he goes to the home of a couple who like to test out the product in advance.
|16||November/December 1952||Graham Ingels||Nobody There!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
A prominent surgeon has spent his life repeatedly forcing a younger subordinate to perform a horrific operation that keeps the old man looking young, but what will happen when his subordinate refuses to take orders any more?
|A Creep in the Deep!||George Evans||Vault Keeper
Philip is devastated after his wife disappears during a fishing trip to their cabin, but when he tries to sell the cabin, no one will buy it because of the strange murders that have started happening around the lake.
|...From Hunger!||Jack Kamen||Old Witch
A royal chef is driven insane by the king, who is so gluttonous that he leaves no food for the people of the kingdom. And there's only one thing to do with a nice big fat pig ...
|The Coffin!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
Richard Braling's terminally ill brother is an inventor who seems determined to build a coffin for himself before he dies. Richard can't see anything special about the mechanical coffin, but when he tries to examine it so he can patent his late brother's invention, he discovers that all is not as it seems.
|17||January/February 1953||Graham Ingels||Horror We? How's Bayou?||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
In a swamp, a man waits to lure victims for his insane serial-killer brother. He likes to get rid of the bodies by throwing them into the marsh, but what he doesn't know is that this might not be the end of them.
|Gorilla My Dreams!||George Evans||Vault Keeper
You are the protagonist in this story about a man who is abducted by a mad scientist and whose brain is transplanted into the body of an escaped gorilla!
|A Likely Story!||Jack Kamen||Old Witch
A cantankerous queen terrorizes the staff who work in the royal household. Nobody's work can ever please her, until a painter comes up with a clever way to ensure the queen's official portrait will turn out just right.
|Garden Party!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
Geoffrey drives his wife Louella crazy by trampling all over her beloved garden. He discovers just how crazy Louella can be when he and his friends hold a raucous barbecue that destroys the lawn.
|18||March/April 1953||Graham Ingels||Pipe Down!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
A woman and her lover come up with a plan to dispatch her elderly, crippled husband. They succeed in making the murder look like an accidental death, but a new pet in the house is a little more suspicious.
|Bedtime Gory!||George Evans||Vault Keeper
On the eve of her corrupt, blackmailing husband's promotion to company president, an abused wife gives him a little surprise in the form of a new bed.
|Pot-Shot!||Jack Kamen||Old Witch
A spoiled young nobleman who loves to drive at high speed devises an ingenious way to get an increase in his allowance from his wealthy father. It turns out to be his undoing in a more literal way than he could have imagined.
|The Black Ferris!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
Written by Ray Bradbury. Two young boys discover a sinister secret about the man who runs the ferris wheel down at the local carnival.
|19||May/June 1953||Graham Ingels||Sucker Bait!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
A brilliant young chemist on leave from university comes up with a plan to lure and kill the vampire that is terrorising the town, but finds that the vampire is a little too close to home.
|Lover, Come Hack to Me!||George Evans||Vault Keeper
A couple on their honeymoon encounter a storm on the road and are forced to stop in an abandoned house, where the groom discovers a shocking skeleton in his new family's closet.
|Double-Header!||Jack Kamen||Old Witch
In a fictional European kingdom, three jealous ladies of the royal court conspire to usurp the new queen by exposing her as an adulteress. The king, however, doesn't hold the witnesses blameless ...
|Foul Play!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
Baseball players take deadly revenge on a corrupt rival found to have fatally poisoned a player from the opposing team.
|20||July/August 1953||Graham Ingels||Thump Fun!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
A jealous man kills his brother for money and is suddenly tormented by the sound of a heartbeat. He thinks back to The Telltale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe and believes the thumping sound is all in his mind. But when the local police show up to his house, he soon finds out just how wrong he was.
|Terror Train||Al Feldstein||Vault Keeper
Reprinted from the first issue of The Vault of Horror. Gloria is convinced her husband Ralph is trying to kill her, so she runs off and boards a train. Problem is Ralph keeps popping up everywhere she looks, even in a lonely cabin that contains a single open coffin.
|Bloody Sure||Reed Crandall||Old Witch
A man laughs off the townspeople who are convinced his new bride is a vampire, but just how can he be so sure?
|Hyde and Go Shriek!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
Myron and his girlfriend hatch a scheme to fleece her eccentric employer by pretending to create a potion to turn him into his hero: the villainous Edward Hyde. But the old story turns out to be more true than they thought.
|21||September/October 1953||Graham Ingels||An Off-Color Heir||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
Newly married Laura has learned to handle her suspicions about her husband's long business trips and the mysterious locked room in his house. However, there is something she cannot put her finger on about the portrait of Baron Gilles de Rais that hangs in the hallway ...
|Dig That Cat... He's Real Gone!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
A homeless man receives a partial brain transplant from a cat. He capitalizes on his newly acquired "nine lives" by becoming a star performance artist whose specialty involves cheating death, but his time may be running out faster than he thinks.
|Corker!||Jack Kamen & Bill Elder||Old Witch
Believing she is possessed by a demon, a woman seeks the advice of the fortune teller who first encouraged her interest in witchcraft. Her fiance will have none of it - should he have listened to her?
|The High Cost of Dying!||Reed Crandall||Vault Keeper
In 19th-century France, Henri has twenty-four hours to raise the money to bury his dead wife due to an ordinance from the town council, otherwise the Commissioner of Health will hand the body over for dissection by medical students and pocket a financial bonus. Thankfully, Henri manages to reach an agreement with him ...
|22||November/December 1953||Graham Ingels||Wish You Were Here||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
A couple facing bankruptcy discover that the statue they bought from a mysterious old store can grant them three wishes. When the first wish goes tragically wrong, they are reminded of the old story of The Monkey's Paw and soon find life imitating art.
|Chess-Mate||George Evans||Vault Keeper
Townspeople try to convince an eccentric local genius to take part in a chess tournament that will put their town on the map, but he has a sinister secret that may foil their plans.
|Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs||Jack Kamen||Old Witch
Gruesome re-imagining of the original fairytale.
|Model Nephew||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
Sidney was always eager to know how his wealthy, stingy old uncle had made his beloved model ship in a bottle. After murdering his uncle to claim an inheritance, Sidney realizes just how many secrets the model is hiding.
|23||January/February 1954||Graham Ingels||Creep Course||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
Stella's history professor has a special interest in ancient Rome. When she attempts to seduce him to get better grades in the class, she's soon in for more than she expected.
|No Silver Atoll!||George Evans||Vault Keeper
Lovers Ruth and Clark are caught in a plane crash and stranded on a small island with the remaining survivors. Possessions containing silver start to go missing, mutilated bodies turn up, and the group remembers that there's only one creature to whom silver is fatal ...
|Hansel and Gretel!||Jack Kamen||Old Witch
A gory retelling of the original Hansel and Gretel story.
|Country Clubbing!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
An escaped convict finds himself in a chase through a swamp with a club-wielding maniac, but is everything really as it seems?
|24||March/April 1954||Graham Ingels||Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes...||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
Bethy has always called her abusive, alcoholic husband a "creep" - but when she and her lover attempt to kill him by drowning him in a whiskey still, it becomes true in a terrifying way.
|...Only Sin Deep||Jack Kamen||Vault Keeper
A woman "sells" her beautiful looks to a sinister pawnbroker in order to raise the money to lure a wealthy husband, but finds her beauty fading faster than she thought.
|The Secret||George Evans||Old Witch
An orphaned young boy is taken in by adoptive parents who are hiding a mysterious secret, only to find that their new son may be hiding a thing or two of his own.
|Head-Room!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
A landlady suspects that her frightening-looking new tenant is the serial "Ripper" who is murdering local women.
|25||May/June 1954||Graham Ingels||The New Arrival||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
During a storm, a man takes refuge in a derelict old house, but finds he is sharing residence with the devoted mother of a very unusual child.
|Indisposed!||George Evans||Vault Keeper
A man takes the arrival of his new garbage disposal unit as the perfect way to murder his nagging wife and get away with it, but "disposing" of her body turns out to be no easy task.
|Out Cold||Jack Kamen||Old Witch
A story with two endings! Ralph would have asked his beautiful new co-worker on a date, and discovered the horrifying reason for her dislike of cats, if only he hadn't gone "out cold" first ...
|The Light in His Life!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
Jake, stranded in his cabin by the long Alaskan winter, is joined by a new arrival sheltering from a snowstorm. To pass the time, Jake recounts his story of why it's never a good idea to be snowed in with one's wife.
|26||July/August 1954||Graham Ingels||Marriage Vow||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
Martin would like to leave his wife, but she always reminds him that they vowed to stay together "till death do us part." Unfortunately he has a very pressing reason to keep that promise.
|The Shadow Knows||Reed Crandall||The Vault-Keeper
When Eric murders his wife Mabel so that he can marry his rich girlfriend, he finds Mabel may be gone but her shadow is not.
|Spoiled||Jack Kamen||Old Witch
A wealthy, bored housewife begins an affair with a stranger, but doesn't count on her surgeon husband deciding to make them part of an experiment with a new anaesthetic.
|Comes the Dawn!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
A group of prospectors in Alaska unearth a vampire frozen beneath the snow. One of them decides to keep the money from their uranium stake for himself, and frees the vampire in order to kill his companions. He knows that vampires crumble into dust once dawn comes - but when will that be?
|27||September/October 1954||Graham Ingels||About Face||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
Jeff is the father of twins Penny and Olga. He loves Penny very much but has never met Olga, who on her mother's instructions is shut away in a locked room of the house. When Jeff's wife dies suddenly, he decides it is time he got to know Olga better, and discovers too late that there was a very good reason to keep her hidden.
|Game Washed Out!||George Evans||The Vault-Keeper
A Puritan man drowns his wife to prevent her from telling the village elders about his adultery, but he finds out that when she said she would "never let him go", she really meant it ...
|The Silent Treatment||Jack Kamen||Old Witch
The ruler of a mythical kingdom orders complete silence throughout the land, even forbidding his subjects to breathe. This leads them to take a very "timely" revenge on him.
|Swamped||Reed Crandall||Crypt Keeper
A ghoulish creature who lives in a swamp builds a shack where he can hide the dead bodies he feasts upon.
|28||November/December 1954||Graham Ingels||The Prude||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
A powerful 19th-century gentleman petitions the local authorities for increasingly stringent rules to protect public decency, but goes a little too far when he orders the graves of the dead to be moved so that men and women are not buried together.
|Numbskull||Bernard Krigstein||The Vault-Keeper
A vicious jungle-dwelling hunter quite literally "becomes the hunted" when he accidentally falls into one of his own traps.
|Audition||Jack Kamen||Old Witch
Ethel Stark is desperate to join Phil Vitale's all-girl orchestra, but will she really do anything to be in the band?
|A Work of Art!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
An elderly mortician who takes great pride in his work goes to extreme lengths to ensure his hated son-in-law will not be the one to embalm him after his death.
- Encyclopedia of Comic Books and Graphic Novels, M. Keith Booker, 2010, Pg. 623.
- Gaines, William. "The Old Witch's Niche", The Haunt of Fear vol. 2, #4 (November/December 1950).
- Warshow, Robert. "Paul, the Horror Comics, and Dr. Wertham", Commentary vol. 17 (June 1954), pp. 596-604.
- The Complete EC Library: The Haunt of Fear Volume 4. Russ Cochran. 1985.
- Goulart, Ron. Great American Comic Books. Publications International, Ltd., 2001. ISBN 0-7853-5590-1
- Overstreet, Robert M. Official Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. House of Collectibles, 2004.