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Five men trapped in the basement vault of an office building share visions with each other of their demise. Stories revolve around vampires, bodily dismemberment, east Indian mysticism, an insurance scam, and an artist who kills by painting his victims' deaths. Written by
THE VAULT OF HORROR is the sixth in a series of seven Amicus horror anthologies. If THE MONSTER CLUB is included as part of the series, this would make eight movies. Although, that movie is very different from the others.
I look upon the Amicus anthologies with great memories as I used to love them when I was in my teens. My feelings for them today are just as strong.
THE VAULT OF HORROR is my second favourite in the series, second only to FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE.
There are five stories in the movie, connected with a beautiful linking story showing five men becoming trapped in the basement of an office block. They share their stories as "recurring dreams".
The first story sees Daniel Massey looking for his sister, who has inherited money from their late father. He kills her but finds out the town is not what it seems. Daniel Massey's performance is nothing special but his real-life sister, Anna Massey, gives an excellent performance as his screen sister. She only has brief screen time but I enjoyed her performance. Jerold Wells enjoys himself in a superb cameo and provides a great comic edge to this story.
The second story sees Terry-Thomas as an obsessively fussy man who wants to see everything in his house neat and tidy. His comic performance here is what anyone familiar with his style would expect and he makes it a superbly enjoyable experience. Glynis Johns deserves special recognition for giving such as convincing performance a his long-suffering wife, Eleanor.
The third story sees Curt Jurgens and his wife, played by the supremely sexy Dawn Addams, in India looking for a new magic trick to showcase in their act. Jurgens comes across a young woman with a rope that rises from its basket when music is played on a flute. Jurgens is determined to get the "trick" at any cost. The title of the story implies what happens. Curt Jurgens, who I'd rarely seen before, captivated me with his performance as a curious yet devious man determined to find his next magic trick. Dawn Addams is given little to do other than demonstrate her innocent sexiness, which had me hooked to the story from the beginning.
The fourth story sees Michael Craig fake his death to collect his life insurance. He makes an agreement with his friend, played by Edward Judd. Unfortunately, they are both out to double-cross each other. Unbeknownst to Craig, two medical students are hunting for a body they can use to aid their medical studies and as a result the plan goes pear-shaped. This story is suitably light-hearted and includes a great cameo from Arthur Mullard as a gravedigger.
The final story and perhaps the best shows Tom Baker as an artist on the island of Haiti in the Carribbean. He discovers that his paintings, which he was told were worthless, have been sold for a fortune by the critic and dealers who told him this. Naturally, Baker is out for revenge and purchases voodoo powers from a local native tribe. He doesn't need a doll because he is a painter. I'm sure you can work out the rest. Tom Baker gives a superb performance as a normally polite dedicated artist pushed to the point of revenge. Unsurprisingly, he later achieved cult status as Doctor Who in the TV series of the same name. Denholm Elliott and Terence Alexander have brief screen time as two of the conmen.
Anyone familiar with the Amicus anthologies will be able to predict with ease how each story ends, including the linking story. But I can promise these people that it's still great to watch.
Roy Ward Baker directs what is easily my most favourite movie with his name attached. His direction may lack the creativity seen in, say, QUATERMASS AND THE PIT or ASYLUM, but he still makes the twist endings have a superb impact that will please fans of the 1950s EC comics, which the stories are adapted from. The director knows the material he is working with inside out and as such ensures the light and dark elements work together perfectly to bring to us this enjoyable gift.
Overall, THE VAULT OF HORROR is a must-see for fans of the Amicus anthologies, fans of other Amicus movies or fans of portmanteau horror movies. If my summary provides the movie with enough appeal in your eyes, check it out. You'll enjoy it!
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