Terry-Thomas and Denholm Elliott star in a very enjoyable Amicus anthology horror from director Roy Ward Baker. Fox R1 DVD.
a large building, five men get on board a lift heading for the ground
floor, but instead it takes them to the sub-basement where they find
themselves trapped. They all recall tales that seem to haunt them - Midnight Mess,
Rogers has finally tracked down his sister to a mysterious town where
the residents seem afraid of the dark, she was left the money in their
father's will and he wants to take care of this. In The Neat Job
the successful businessman Critchit (Terry-Thomas) announces his
marriage to a young wife, but she discovers that he is incredibly
precise about everything around his house, and when she stains a table,
minutes before he returns home, she has a race against time to fix up
the house. This Trick'll Kill You
sees a magician on holiday in India where his discredits a street
performance, before being entranced by a rope trick and going to
extreme lengths to find out its secret. Maitland awakens in a coffin in
Bargain in Death
and recalls the insurance scam that landed him buired alive, but seems
to be saved when a bumbling pair of medical students try to steal his
corpse. Drawn and Quartered - when a failed artist (Tom Baker) working in Haiti discovers
that his work is actually highly praised and selling for big money in
London, he visits a voodoo man and discovers that whatever he paints
will come to pass, bad news for the dealer who tricked him (Denholm
Their sixth portmanteau horror picture,Vault of Horror was the thematic sequel to Amicus' highly successful Tales from the Crypt (1971), again using stories derived from the popular EC Comics - evident from the dark comedy present throughout the film.
The first and last stories are examples of films that although well
written, could have used some extra run-time to be properly effective. Midnight Mess
has some very interesting ideas, but the idea of this mysterious
town is not properly established (it appears to be nothing more than a
London suburb) while the brother/sister element is far too
underdeveloped. Drawn and Quartered
is a very good segment (one of the best Amicus anthology pieces), and
has enough storyline to make sense, but could have used some extra
run-time to build up the characters of the victims and create tension.
Fortunately the second and third stories are much better paced and fit the format perfectly. Despite its rather daft synopsis, The Neat Job
is a very enjoyable little story and manages to build an amazing amount
of tension over such a trivial notion with a superbly paced ending,
while This Trick'll Kill You is not as fun, being quite predictable, but keeps you watching to see just how the inevitable revenge will come. Unfortunately Bargain in Death
is much less effective with some rather crude comedy and a completely
contrived ending - its time would have been better given over to
extending the first story. The link story is pretty standard of the
Amicus films, but fortunately is kept brief enough not to bother
anyone, and has a suitable, if unsurprising ending.
Roy Ward Baker returned from And Now the Screaming Starts
(1973) to direct, and does a solid job throughout, although he never
gets anything challenging to do, and the film lacks the moments of
flair seen in his earlier anthology effort, Asylum
(1972). The special effects are solid throughout, with some inventive
deaths, particularly in the final chapter. Douglas Gamley again
provides the soundtrack and does a generally good job.
film boasts a good cast of supporting actors, but lacks a big name star
(something that would severely affect its box office draw). A year
before his casting as Doctor Who, Tom Baker gives the best performance
as a tortured artist opposite Denholm Elliot who gets little more than
a cameo role. British comedy star Terry-Thomas plays the obsessive
compulsive husband pefectly in The Neat Job, working well with Glynis Johns (Mary Poppins (1964) as his wife. Some clever casting comes in the shape of Robin Nedwell and Geoffrey Davies as medical studies in part four, parodying their long running roles in the Doctor in the House
series, and its follow-ups - although the joke was lost on the film's
international audience. Big German actor Curd Jürgens (The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)) is quite
unpleasant in his role as a magician, rather ruining his segment. Vault of Horror
is one of the best Amicus anthology pieces, with three very good
stories (parts one, two and five) although the first and last could
have used a little extending, an interesting story (part three) and
only one duff. A generally good cast, and solid production wrap it up
well. Not the best place to start exploring the Amicus productions, but
one that fans of the studio will certainly want to see. Recommended.
famous in it?
Terry-Thomas - a popular British comedy star, who also appeared in The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) Denholm Elliott - a widely travelled actor, best known for his appearances in the Indiana Jones films.
Available on DVD from Vipco in the UK, a low quality fullframe print, but fully uncut.
print used here is the original theatrical American print. It is
altered in four places compared to the original British theatrical
print - two gory scenes are replaced with rather obvious still images
for a couple of seconds while the sound continues, while two brief
scenes are more subtly cut out and would go unnoticed by most viewers. The film itself was cut down further for a PG rating as Tales from the Crypt II in 1974, but these cuts are restored here.
An enjoyable anthology horror film with three good stories and solid production. Recommended.
good looking and sounding DVD, marred only by the use of the American
theatrical print with its noticable edits. Fortunately these are only
brief and this disc is a huge improvement over the previous Vipco disc
- certainly worth picking up.