Monday, October 11, 2010

VAULT OF HORROR (1973)

This film was directed by Roy Ward Baker, following the 1972 release of the not-adored-by-me TALES FROM THE CRYPT. Whereas that film had pacing problems and story-selection challenges, VAULT challenges the ennui bubbling up in my mid-October by delivering a solid set of tales that feel true to their EC roots.

First tale, "Midnight Mess", stars Daniel Massey as a guy whose sister stands to split a portion of their inheritance. Said sister lives in a town whose citizens fear to venture out after dark. It's a fun little story and Massey is one of the silver screen's greatest murderers. It's a joy to watch how exuberantly he kills and makes one wish that he could kill people in every movie, since he obviously takes such pride in his job. I am talking entirely too much about music lately, but the score is especially effective in this portion of the film...strings simmering menacingly just in earshot...

And next is "The Neat Job", which is a just fine little macabre piece. It's well-acted and well-shot and really demonstrates what a good handle Baker had on this film. There's no extraneousness nor any feeling of rushing, such as I observed in TALES. This is really the point at which VAULT started to win my heart...
And then came "This Trick'll Kill You" and I was ready to elope with this thing to whatever bastion of liberty would allow us to wed. This was probably my second-fave story in the EC comics and the film adaptation is just about perfect. A magician and his wife travel to India to solicit new tricks for their old and busted act. They encounter a woman who can summon a rope to rise out of a basket, snakelike. It's just the sweetest, most compact little story and the effects in this are pretty admirable, too.

The final two stories are understandably less impressive, following the epic winning of the first three as they do. One is a buried-alive tale and the other riffs off Wilde (but features Tom Baker of DR. WHO acclaim, only with a KRAZY BEARD!!!). Even in this, VAULT is true to the comics, which normally featured one amazing story, one-to-two pretty good ones, and a few unfortunate also-rans.

But, overall, this is a really impressive and fun collection of short horrors! And it's SO well-executed that I am even more saddened by Roy Ward Baker's recent passing. And I fully intend to scope out his other work, based on how enjoyable VAULT was.

#13 of 31

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