Vault of Horror (1973)
(aka: Tales from the Crypt II)
Directed by Roy Ward Baker
Starring: Terry Thomas, Curt Jergens, Tom Baker
Although named after the EC Comic, Vault of Horror, these shorts are all based on stories from the Tales From the Crypt comic with the exception of one, which was from the Shock SuspenStories comic. There is no Cryptkeeper in this film as there was in the comics and first Tales From the Crypt film.
Five men enter an elevator on different floors. The elevator brings them to the basement even though none had pressed the button for that level. When the doors open there is a table with food and drink. The enter the small room to investigate and the elevator doors shut. There are no buttons on the panel to call the elevator back so the men resign to sit and wait. They begin to talk trying to find a common denominator as to why they are there. Thus, we are introduced to stories as told by each man.
Midnight Mess – A man tracks down his sister in a small town and murders her so he’ll be the sole inheritor of their parent’s estate. Pleased with his handy work he goes into town to dine. The local patrons of the restaurant soon sprout fangs and the man may become the main course. However, the man’s sister arrives even though he was sure she was dead. Will she save him or join the feast of blood?
The Neat Job – An obsessive compulsive neat freak, Arthur, constantly nags at his wife about putting things in order and keeping the home neat. She fails miserably. One night he comes home from work to find his basement tools in disarray and goes on a tirade, verbally attacking her about it. She is still holding a hammer and she finds the perfect place for it. This is the best segment mostly because of the fine acting by Terry Thomas.
This Trick’ll Kill You – A magician witnesses an amazing trick while touring India with his wife. A woman plays a flute and a rope rises from a basket and into the air. Not able to get the secret from the performers, he lures the woman to his hotel room for a private demonstration and kills her. He then plays the flute and the rope rises into the air for him. But the rope knows its rightful owner and exacts revenge for her.
Bargain in Death – Two men pull off an scam faking one’s death for the insurance money. After the ‘death’ the other man is to go dig up the ‘dead’ man and revive him. However, he leaves the man to suffocate, keeping all the insurance money for himself. But little does he know that someone else is digging up the graves for an unrelated reason and fate has a plan to bring both men their just rewards.
Drawn and Quartered – A painter learns that an art dealer has sold his painting for top dollar, even though the dealer told him it was worthless and purchased it for almost nothing. The painter goes to a voodoo priest and is endowed with a special magic. Everything he paints can inflict damage to the real subject if the painting is damaged. So he paints portraits of the art dealer and his associates, then destroys them causing the men’s deaths. But the magic is also a curse, one the painter will soon learn.
When the men are finished telling their stories, the elevator doors open onto a cemetery. The walk out one-by-one and fade into the mist.
While ‘Vault…’ was filmed competently, it is lackluster compared to the previous year’s Tales From the Crypt. A couple of the tales are interesting but in general the film doesn’t engage the excitement of other Amicus anthology features. The twist endings are quite obvious and telegraphed and not delivered in a manner that will shock the viewer. Unfortunately, the version most of us have seen of this film an edited version with some of the violence cut out. The only full version on the market was the Vipco released version. However, I doubt the few cuts they have made for the PG version would bring much to the film. I would say that this would only be enjoyed by fans Amicus and completists who want to see all the Amicus Anthologies.
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