Monday, 20 August 2012

The Vault of Horror

"The Vault of Horror" (1973, Roy Ward Baker, Amicus Productions, 20th Century Fox) is a British horror anthology made after "Tales From The Crypt" but before "Creepshow" and based on the horror EC Comics. The cast were all famous names from the day.

The main story follows five men entering an office building in London and one by one entering a lift (or 'elevator' for all you non-British types). The lift quickly passes all of the floors the men had previously selected, and takes them instead to a sub-basement level.

The men enter this strange floor to find a table set with beverages and chairs, and also that the lift has no call button, meaning that they cannot now leave.

Being Englishmen, they decide to make the most of it and sit at the table to enjoy some free alcohol. Good on them, I say!

Being in a somewhat odd situation at the moment, their conversation soon comes to an odd theme: recurring nightmares. Each man describes his own hellish nightmare, each resulting in that man's death. They tell each one in great detail, and state how real the dream always is.

There are five stories, one for each man.

Midnight Mess
Harold Rogers (Daniel Massey - best known for being in "Roads to Freedom") kills his sister Donna (played by Daniel's realife sister, Anna Massey - best known for being in "Hotel du Lac") in cold blood in order to claim her inheritance. He then goes for spot of dinner in a local restaurant. Unfortunately for him, Donna's not the girl she was and this particular restaurant would rather serve him for dinner, than serve him dinner...

A nice little tale to start up the stories. A few nice touches such as the hilarious tap for blood letting. Story let down by terrible vampire fangs!

The Neat Job
Arthur (Thomas Terry Hoar-Stevens aka Terry-Thomas - best known for his many roles as the typical toffee-nosed Cad in British film, but I personally recognise him from "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines" and "Munster, go home!") is a neat freak. His poor wife Eleanor (Glynis Johns - fondly known as the mother in "Mary Poppins"), a young wife who is not a neat freak, has a terrible time putting up with his constant nagging and increasingly violent (by the day's standards) outbursts. She eventually can't stand anymore....

Excellent build up, I knew what was coming, but I loved every minute of it! Eleanor's tears were very believable, and I loved the neatly labelled jars and elongated maniacal laughter!

This Trick'll Kill You
Sebastian (Curd Jürgens - "The Spy Who Loved Me") is a magician/illusionist on holiday with his magician's assistant wife, Inez (Dawn Addams - "The Moon is Blue") in India. After publically humiliating a local illusionist in front of his audience, Sebastian is later intrigued by the illusionist's assistant who is a rope charmer. When she will not sell him the trick, he talks her into coming to his hotel room to show his 'sick' wife. He then kills the girl and tries to charm the rope. Unfortunately for him, the rope has a mind of its own and has taken a severe dislike to him!

A good, well paced short with some impressive scenes of the rope moving on its own. The scenes where it attacks Sebastian are not great, but this is the 70s!

Bargain in Death
A man, Maitland (Michael Craig), is seen awakening in his coffin. He slowly begins to remember how this situation occurred. Safe to say he's made a grave (get it?) error in trusting his pal Alex (Edward Judd)... Things turn for the worse when two young medical students turn up with a grave robber to steal Maitland's corpse!

Really good. The scenes inside the coffin are excellent and the ending is worth a smile!

Drawn and Quartered
Moore (Tom Baker - known to most people as Doctor Who - the 4th Doctor) is a struggling artist in Haiti. He learns from an acquaintance that his paintings which he had sold for virtually nothing to a London art dealer after terrible reviews and rejections, are now being sold for a lot of money! Furious when he learns that he has been cheated by the art world, he visits a local Voodoo Priest and asks for a way to pay them back for the wrongs they have done to him. His wish is granted, but he should be more careful how he uses it and what he paints in future.

An excellent story which takes voodoo out of the zombie territory and into a more "Dorian Grey"-esque realm. There's even some lovely gore, but remember it's a 70s British horror, this ain't no "Driller Killer"! Don't expect too much blood.
Very well paced and my favourite of the lot, not just because Tom Baker is a legend!

The film ends with a nice twist, where the lift doors open to reveal a graveyard, and we learn of the men's true fate and their reason for meeting.

Nicely haunting and well laid out, this film encompasses everything that horror comics did/do. I recommend!

[Picture: 20th Century Fox]