Wednesday, October 31, 2007


THE VAULT OF HORROR (1973, directed by Roy Ward Baker) is a British horror anthology and is a follow-up to the original film version of TALES OF THE CRYPT. Both are based on classic stories from the notorious EC Comics series from the early 1950s.

The film starts out as five men meet in an elevator in a London office building. They are taken to the sub-basement level, despite that was no one's chosen destination. They enter a plush sitting room as the elevator door closes behind them. They are trapped. As they waiting for help, they pour some drinks and begin discussing their dreams of death. Sounds like a fun way to kill time, eh?

The first story is called "Midnight Mess" - and it tells the tale of a man who tracks down his missing sister, only to kill her so that he be the sole claim to their inheritance. After killing her, he dines at a restaurant where both the wine and the soup are blood!!! Then, in a strange twist of fate, his sister appears to be still alive - but she's a vampire! Her and her restaurant friends murder the brother and hang him up to drain his blood, so they can drink it. Midnight mess indeed!

The second and best of the five stories is titled "The Neat Job" and stars funnyman Terry Thomas as an Felix Unger-type neat freak who has just married Glynis Johns (Tony winner who originally sang "Send in the Clowns" on Broadway) - who turns out not to be up to his strict OCD standards. His eventually drives her mad with his bellyaching - so she hammers him to death (with a hammer) and then cuts him up and organizes his body parts in neatly labeled jars. Martha Stewart would be so proud.

Epiode 3 is "This Trick’ll Kill You" about a magician and his wife on vacation in India, where he obnoxiously exposes the local magicians as frauds. Sort of like Penn & Teller. Then he comes across a woman "rope charmer" who plays a flute that brings a rope to life! He lures this woman back to his room, where kills her and he attempts to make the trick work for him. The wife climbs the rope - then disappears, leaving only a patch of blood on the ceiling. Huh? Was Aunt Flo paying a visit? Then the rope comes to life and viciously attacks the magician. That'll show 'em for messing with someone else's trick! This was the second best story.

The next, "Bargain in Death" – was the worst and thankfully shortest. It has to do with being buried alive. My least favorite way to die. The bloody ending is the only good part.

The final tale, "Drawn and Quartered" stars DOCTOR WHO's Tom Baker as a starving artist living on Haiti. He visits a voodoo priest and soon his artwork has powers like a voodoo doll. Anything that happens to his paintings, then happens to it's subject. Unfortunately his self-portrait gets acid poured on it. Ouchie!

Epilogue (with apologies to Quinn Martin): After all five stories are told, the elevator door opens, to reveal a graveyard. Then the five drunk men walk out and vanish into the cemetery. The last remaining fellow explains that their souls are damned - and must tell their stories over and over, day after day till the end of time. That's just gotta suck - luckily I only had to live though it all once.

You would think this film would be more fun - but it's slow pace makes you want to hit the FFWD button quite often - it really drags starting with the fourth story. Overall, I'd give this one a 6 outta 10 - but mostly only worth seeing for the second and third story.

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