Saturday, 30 August 2008

Vault of Horror (1973)

Vault of Horror was not exactly a sequel to Amicus’s successful Tales from the Crypt, more of a follow-up employing the same formula. Five brief tales of horror inspired by the 1950s Tales from the Crypt comics, linked by a framing story.

The problem I have with this one is the same as I had with Tales from the Crypt - the stories are just too compressed to allow for much in the way of plot twists, and what plot twists the stories do contain are a little too obvious.

The first story is particularly weak. The second, involving a new bride’s attempts to deal with her husband’s organising and neatness fetish, is better. The third is better still - a magician travelling in India ruins an Indian’s magician act by revealing the workings of the trick to the crowd. Later he becomes obsessed by another trick he sees performed, an illusion so realistic he is unable to even guess as to how it’s on. He is determined to get posession of the secret of the trick.

The fourth story about a man who fakes his own death is fairly predictable but executed with enough style to be highly entertaining. And the final story is a revenge story, as a painter who has been cheated by a cabal of art dealers and critics gains his vengeance in an unusual way. Maybe it just that I’m a sucker for stories involving voodoo, but I liked this one the most.

Tom Baker is delightful as the vengeful artist, and Curd Jürgens is wonderful as always as the unscrupulous illusionist. Terry-Thomas has great fun as the obsessively organised husband in the second tale.

Roy Ward Baker directs with his usual flair, and the end result is entertaining and amusing if not especially inspired or terrifying.

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