The Vault of Horror (1973)

vault of horror poster 1973 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 5/10

Fun little stories

Could have pushed the gore and genre twists further

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Vault of Horror

Studio:  Amicus Productions

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  March 13, 1973

MPAA Rating:  PG

vault of horror cast tom baker curd jurgens terry thomas daniel massey michael craig

5 Strangers in Search of an Exit?

Five strangers find themselves in a strange sub-basement room of a high rise…each discovers they are having recurring dreams of horror.  As they start to share their stories, they discover the horror could be real.

Directed by Roy Ward Baker, The Vault of Horror (also known just as Vault of Horror and sometimes Further Tales from the Crypt or Tales from the Crypt II) is a horror anthology based upon the EC Comic series (though none of the stories were printed in The Vault of Horror).  The movie received mixed to positive reviews.

Horror anthologies are fun.  They can be funny, scary, and often rely on twists (that are often painfully obvious).  The first Tales from the Crypt was a classic British horror anthology and though a pseudo-sequel, this film never seemed to get as much play (probably due to the fact that the ’90s HBO series was titled Tales from the Crypt and not The Vault of Horror.  Still, The Vault of Horror contains the same fun of Tales from the Crypt (both the movie and the series) in its five stories.

vault of horror midnight mess daniel massey vampires

Drink up!

“Midnight Mess”

Harold Rodgers (Daniel Massey) seeks the sister (Anna Massey) that he blames for stealing his inheritance.  In a strange town where everyone fears the night, Harold discovers that he might find more than he bargained for.

The first entry is a vampire tale and was originally printed in Tales from the Crypt #35.  It is pretty simple and like many short horror tales pretty predictable.  The cast is nice though the story is very short and any real character development is minimal (though it is fun that they cast real life brother and sister Anna and Daniel Massey for the roles).  There is also sometimes a weird edit which takes out the draining of blood in some versions of the film.

vault of horror the neat job terry thomas killed hammer

Hold this hammer for me

“The Neat Job”

Confirmed bachelor Arthur Critchit (Terry-Thomas) decides to finally take a wife in Eleanor (Glynis Johns) and finds that marriage has its drawbacks.  The obsessively clean and organized Critchit finds his world rocked by Eleanor…and it could push someone to a breaking point!

“The Neat Job” is a telling of Shock SuspenStories #11.  Like many of the anthology horror stories in this style of horror comic, there is a lot of humor to the story.  It is an interesting ending in that usually it is rather predictable…here you don’t know who is going to crack first (this ending was also altered).

vault of horror this trickll kill you rope curd jurgens

Neat rope trick…now die!

“This Trick’ll Kill You”

A magician named Sebastian (Curd Jürgens) and his wife (Dawn Addams) travel to India and discover a rope trick that they are willing to kill for, but magic can have deadly consequences.

An adaptation of a story from Tales of the Crypt #33, “This Trick’ll Kill You” is one of those cultural horror stories with the British culture’s control over colonies not being strong enough to protect them from their “strange ways”.  Like most tales, the villains are the main the characters and they get their just desserts for their actions…which always leads to the strange idea that you want them to get burned.

vault of horror bargain in death buried alive michael craig

Light a match in a limited air supply…you deserve to die

“Bargain in Death”

Maitland (Michael Craig) plots an insurance scam involving faking his own death but doesn’t realize treachery by his friend and partner Alex (Edward Judd) could lead to disaster.

Originally told in Tales from the Crypt #28, the story is a classic double-cross story, but interestingly enough the story takes a twist in that you are actually kind of rooting for Maitland because he doesn’t know he’s been double-crossed (even though he’s committed a crime).  The involvement of the graverobbers puts an unexpected twist in the story and the fact it has an outcome on Alex’s betrayal also is fun.

vault of horror drawn and quartered tom baker picture of dorian grey

The Picture of Dorian Gray?

“Drawn and Quartered”

An artist named Moore (Tom Baker) seeks revenge on those who have wronged him.  Given a gift by a voodoo priest, Moore finds the horrors he paints can become reality!

Printed in Tales from the Crypt #26, “Drawn and Quartered” also combines a bunch of horror clichés.  It has the wronged artist who seeks revenge, it has the dark world of voodoo, and it also plays with the idea of The Picture of Dorian Gray.  I always like seeing the Fourth Doctor in non-Doctor Who stories since he was “my Doctor” when I was little and the shows would rerun.  The movie did miss the opportunity for a really great horror shot with the paint thinner on the painting which could have been a fun make-up horror scene along the lines of the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Overall, The Vault of Horror is an entertaining film.  It could have been pushed a little farther and harder in its visuals, gore, and horror since a lot of what EC did was gore, but the movie is rather family friendly in that sense.  Tales from the Crypt was a better movie, but The Vault of Horror is a fun follow-up.

Related Links:

Tales from the Crypt (1972)

Tales from the Crypt—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Tales from the Crypt—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Tales from the Crypt—Season 3 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Tales from the Crypt—Season 4 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Tales from the Crypt—Season 5 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Tales from the Crypt—Season 6 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Tales from the Crypt—Season 7 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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