Vault Of Horror (1973 UK)

vault_of_horror_03Dig Tom Baker’s painfully groovy tie. If he tried sporting that today he’d be arrested. Good old Amicus. They give you that Chinese meal sensation. Not the awful realization that you probably just ate dog, but you will probably feel hungry for another tale or two an hour after each portmanteau has ended. Anyway, I hope this effort won’t give you indigestion or heartburn. Try and get hold of the uncut version of VOH, as the cuts listed in the ‘alternate (my fanny!) version’ dvds would really hurt the final twists of one or two of the segments.

The film starts with the camera gliding across the London skyline, including a long shot of the houses of parliament just so you know we’re in London, finally resting on a large office building. In the building a man enters a lift, as the lift descends to the lower floors it stops a further four times, each time another man entering. The lift fails to stop at the lobby and carries on down to a room with a table surrounded by five chairs, one for each man. They decide to wait, as they do so, they tell each other stories of their recurring nightmares.

First up its ‘Midnight Mess’ with Daniel Massey. He plays a man who hires someone to track his sister down, played by Anna Massey. She is found in a small town, he visits her so he can claim an inheritance all for himself. The residents of the town and his sister aren’t quite what they first seem, however. A good segment, very enjoyable.Very well directed with a spooky atmosphere – an engrossing story. Then it’s Terry Thomas and Glynis Johns in ‘A Neat Job’. Thomas recounts the story of how he drives his newly wed wife to take out a gruesome revenge on him. It builds up well, and I liked the very appropriate twist ending.

vault-of-horrorThe third story, ‘This Trick’ll Kill you’, sees Curt Jurgens and Dawn Adams as a magician and his wife who, while visiting India, try to steal a magic trick for their act. But things don’t quite go as they had planned. A good, if predictable, story that has a great performance by Jurgens and good classic revenge by a stolen item. The only flaw is we don’t know what the rope did to his wife. There’s no real twist involved but it is nice to get a bit of tropical sun into a horror story. The fourth story entitled ‘Bargain in Death’ has Micheal Craig as a broke writer. In a nice touch by the filmmakers at one point he says “there’s no money in horror”.

Tell that to Stephen King. And in another nice touch in this segment, he settles down to read a book, as the camera zooms in the book happens to be the novelization of a previous Amicus horror anthology: Tales From The Crypt! A great moment for fans. He sets up his own death to try and collect the insurance money, with the help of a friend, Edward Judd. Once again things end up far from what he had planned. This story relies on a lot of silly coincidences and you have to forget about any sort of logic. It also lacks any real horror elements, being nothing more than a bare bones  tale of crime, mystery and double cross. Average.

The fifth and final story stars Tom Baker, Denholm Elliott, and Terence Alexander. Baker plays an artist who is lied to by art critics and gallery owners about his paintings. Knowing their true value, they tell Baker they are worthless and then make huge profits by selling them. He uses voodoo to take a horrible revenge. This is the best of the lot. Tom Baker’s baritone of a voice is put to great use here. So is the Rasputin beard he is sporting. Very sinister! Good fun. Directed by Roy Ward Baker, this is a great little anthology film. A fine score by Douglas Gamley and pretty good performances by the all star cast help. There’s not much violence in it, but whats there isn’t just there to be gratuitous.




  1. Excellent review! I love this film and agree that it’s worth picking up the uncut version if possible. I concur that Tom Baker’s story is the best, with “Midnight Mess” a close second! 🙂

    I’ve referenced this film in my latest YouTube video if anyone’s interested, it takes a look at Dr Terrible’s House of Horrible and the associated 70’s Brit horrors it took inspiration from –

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the link. Best wishes for the You Tube venture! 🙂


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