SPOILER ALERT! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! SPOILER ALERT!
Five man enter a lift which takes them to the secret basement vault of an office building. Unable to return to a higher level, they sit at the table and begin exchanging stories of their dreams that all end in their demise. The dreams range from vampires and voodoo to good old fashioned insurance scams.
Vault of Horror is a 1973 Amicus production. It is an anthology/portmanteau story made up of five short stories accompanied by an additional framing story that begins and ends the film. It stars Dawn Addams, Tom Baker and Michael Craig. It was directed by Roy Ward Baker. It is the sequel to 1972's Tales from the Crypt, and is also based on the Vault of Horror and Tales from the Crypt comics that inspired the Tales from the Crypt film.
To begin, this is one of my favourites, if not my favourite portmanteau Amicus Production. This and Dr Terror's House of Horrors I'd say are my top favourites.
The first story is about a man who kills his sister in order to claim the full inheritance from his deceased father. Little does he know that the town is over run by vampires, he soon finds out when he dines at the local vampire restaurant and is asked how he would like his blood clots, roasted? etc. The vampires realise he isn't one of them and then they string him up from the ceiling and stick a tap in his throat, allowing them and his vampire sister to have his blood on tap.
The second story is about an obsessive compulsive who makes his wife's life a living hell with his constant idea of “everything in it's place and a place for everything” he explains this to her by showing her his workshop where every single item has a designated position (Useful tip: DON'T MESS WITH HIS WORKSHOP HE WON'T LIKE IT). He even has a chart in his kitchen cupboard so he knows exactly how much of each item of food he has. She tries her best but by the end of the story her clumsiness takes over as she causes havoc to his orderly household through a calamity of slapstick events that unfold like tumbling dominoes. From a simple cup mark on the table she ends up spilling polish on the carpet, knocking a picture off the wall which rips the nail out of the wall. Then in order to fix the picture she heads down to his workshop and empties all his jars of various nails. [NOTE: THIS IS DEFINATELY A BAD IDEA, YOU KNOW HOW MUCH HE LIKES HIS ORDERED NAILS!] It's almost cringe worthy how clumsy she is and how much damage she is causing, especially when she messes about with his work shop because we all know how much he loves the order of his workshop items, and she messes it all up and breaks so much stuff. Then he arrives to see what has happened, tells her off but she snaps and wallops a hammer smack into the top of his head. Then we see that she has tidied the house and sorted everything into it's designated place. She has even sorted him into various jars; Eyes, Liver, Odds and Ends and so on. She's even picked up his motto “Everything in it's place and a place for everything” then laughs maniacally.
The third story is about a couple who travel to the East and try to steal the Eastern people's “magic tricks” for their own magic show. When they are refused a price for the secrets to their magic acts they turn to committing murder to obtain the flute that can make a rope stand erect from a basket high enough to be climbed. The robe then kills the couple and we see the woman who the couple killed is no longer dead but has somehow come back to life and is still continuing her magic flute and rope act.
The fourth story is about a man who has faked his own death in order to claim his life insurance, he's even took it as far as to be buried alive. The plan being for his friend to dig him up after the funeral. He also plans to kill his friend after he has collected the money for him. But his friend has other plans, he decides to leave him buried alive and collect the life insurance for himself. As the story unfolds his friend dies in a car crash and the graveyard caretaker kills the man in the coffin as a natural instinct to seeing a dead man jump out of a coffin at him.
During the fourth story we get a not so subtle reference to the previous film Tales from the Crypt, we see the man reading the novelization of the film, to which the camera zooms in on the book. They could have at least tried to make it subtle, I like the reference but I don't think it needed a close up of the book to reinforce that.
The fifth story is about an artist who after being cheated and robbed for his paintings learns how to perform voodoo through his artwork. His reason “to get revenge on those who wronged me”. He creates a painting of each of the men that wronged him then damages them in ways he deems appropriate for each individual, the loss of sight for the man who is an art critic, the loss of hands to the man who handles art work and for the man who oversaw it all, he is made to shoot himself in the head. But the artist also has a self portrait which before he can return to it in time a workman accidentally spills turpentine all over it resulting in the artist getting ran over, leaving his face resembling his now ruined painting.
WARNING! I'M ABOUT TO DISCUSS THE ENDING! WARNING!
The end, after they have all told their tales the lift doors open revealing a graveyard to which they all walk off into and each disappear one by one. The last of the men explains to the audience that every night they must come together and tell of the evil things they did when they were alive, that they must do this every night for all eternity. This I think is brilliant, its so dark and horrific, the idea of every single night having to tell of the evil things you have done for all eternity. This is a brilliantly horrifying concept.
In true Amicus tradition it's a horror with a dash of comedy. It contains both intentional and unintentional comedy. The unintentional tends to come from the actors' hammy acting (as usual), but we love it!
The best stories are the second and the fifth, the second one is more funny than horrifying but the fifth one which is the best of the lot is rather horrifying the idea of an artist taking revenge through the use of voodoo art, its brilliant and creepy at the same time. Plus Tom “The Doctor” Baker is the artist, I can't think of anyone else who would have been better than him, he isn't as eccentric as in Doctor Who but he's still good. The third story kind of bores me, it's definitely the weakest of the five, the fourth one is pretty decent with it's extravagant life insurance scam, the first one is ok, but nothing special, but the ending is good so that makes up for the rest of it. The idea of vampires sticking a tap into a man's throat so his blood is on tap is brilliant. I think I may have found the tap thing a lot funnier than I probably should have done, especially seen as I didn't find it scary just funny. I would definitely recommend this film to anyone interested in Amicus productions.
Vault of Horror 4/5