Sunday, 4 October 2015

The Vault of Horror: A horror film you need to see.

Every now and then I like for all of the dots to line up so that I can talk about a whole bunch of my favourite things in one go, be it talking about a Video game which happens to be about wrestling or a Horror film that happens to be based on a classic line of horror comics. Well today I have a real beauty to talk about because it involves a whole host of things I love a great deal. It is also a chance for me to persuade you that you need to watch this for Halloween this year.

Today I get to talk about a horror film, in fact it is what you would call a horror anthology film, which is one of my favourite types of movie, it is based on a wonderful series of comics which happens to feature a very well loved actor who is probably mostly thought of for his role as The Doctor in Doctor Who and it was made by a company I am also very fond of.

So what am I talking about? Well if you have read the title of this post or even looked at the picture which is across from this text then you will already know that I am referring to The Vault of Horror a horror anthology film made by Amicus Productions a British film production company, based at Shepperton Studios here in England. It was Filmed from August to September in 1972. It is the only Amicus anthology movie which does not feature Peter Cushing (Most likely because he was busy filming another film for Amicus called ''And Now the Screaming Starts!'') I can forgive its lack of the amazing talents of Mr Cushing though largely because it features another marvellous actor the formerly mentioned future Doctor Who, Mr Tom Baker.

So here we have an Amicus produced film based on Stories from EC Comics horror comics staring The Doctor himself Tom Baker what is there not to love here? If you arnt aware what EC Comics are then the easiest way to explain is to say that they were an American publisher of comic books, which specialized in areas such as horror fiction, crime fiction, and science fiction from the 1940s through tothe mid-1950s, with there most well known title being the Tales from the Crypt series which of course would go on to give birth to the Film Version of Tales from the Crypt made by Amicus and the Latter HBO TV series Tales from the Crypt. This film was in fact a sequel to Tales from the Crypt and was referd to in some cases and released sometimes in some markets with names like Further Tales from the Crypt and Tales from the crypt,part II. In honesty these titles probably makes more sense really as none of the stories contained in this film actually come from the EC comic series "The Vault of Horror." The story "The Neat Job" originally appeared in one of EC's other titles "Shock SuspenStories," and the rest of the stories appeared in various issues of "Tales from the Crypt.". I guess they went with the Vault of Horror title for the film to keep the EC connection but to make it stand on its own and not give anyone the idea that they would be at any disadvantage if they hadn't seen Tales from the Crypt, and the truth is this film can stand on its own legs, you can enjoy it and the stories within it regardless of if you have seen the Tales from the Crypt or not.

Ok so the film as I have pointed out is an anthology story but it has a what I would call wrap around story which holds all of the short stories together. In this case the story is that five strangers all get in to a lift togther, a lift in what appears to be an office block. They end up in the sub-basement even though none of them pressed the button for that floor. In the sub-basement they find a fully furnished room. The lifts door closes and they are all stuck down there, so they make the best of it they settle down grab drinks and begin to talk to each other, they end up talking about dreams and it is then that each one of them takes it in turns to tell everyone about a recurring nightmare they think they have been having, these tales form the stories in this anthology.

Ok so despite this film having come from the 1970's my main reason for writing this is to convince you that you need to see this film. So to that end I intend to lay out a rough idea of the stories within the film, to sell it to you but I will also be trying to not give away too much.

First there is a tale called Midnight Mess taken from Tales from the Crypt issue 35. It is about a brother who tracks down his sister with the intention of killing her to claim her share of there inheritance. 

This is followed by The Neat Job from the first issue of Shock SuspenStories. Its the tale of an obsessively clean and tidy man who marries what can best be described as a young trophy wife who unfortunately for him doesn't live up to his ideals of domestic home maker this starts to drive him mad, and his reactions begin to do the same to her.

This Trick’ll Kill You taken from Tales from the Crypt issue 33. A magician on a working holiday in India, is searching for new tricks. Nothing gets his attention until he sees a girl charming a rope out of a basket with a flute. Unable to work out how the trick is done, he persuades her to come to his hotel room, so that he can gain this skill.

Bargain in Death taken from Tales from the Crypt issue 28. A man is buried alive as part of an insurance scam concocted with his friend. His friend double crosses him leaving him to suffocate. He is discovered when Two trainee doctors bribe a gravedigger to dig up a corpse to help with their studies.

Drawn and Quartered taken from Tales from the Crypt issue 26. An impoverished painter living on Haiti (Played by Tom Baker). Learns that his work has been sold for large profits by dealers and critics who told him that it was worthless, because of this he goes to a voodoo priest and his painting hand is given a strange power; whatever he paints or draws can be harmed by damaging its image. 

Maybe it is because of Tom Baker and my fondness for the man but Drawn and Quartered is definitely my favourite story and it actually makes me wish that he was involved in more horror films. The man is incredibly eccentric in his acting and this gave us the wonderful Alien 4th Doctor but this same quirk can help him come across as quiet terrifying in a very you have no idea what he could be capable of way. The whole of this film relies on little twists and turns and in all honesty if you are used to the sort of horror movie idea that the sinner must somehow pay for his sins then you will most likely to some extent see everything coming from a mile away yet it still manages to draw you in. It is quiet surprising that the HBO Tales from the Crypt Series never reused any of these stories, the opening story of that series was one of the ones used for the Tales From The Crypt Amicus film years earlier after all.
So I would recommend this film to people who love horror anthology films, people who loved the Tales from the Crypt TV show and want to see more of the EC comics stories on film and to fans of Tom Baker who want to see The Doctor in a less heroic role. This is not the last time I will focus on people from Doctor Who turning up in the world of horror.

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