A Victorian-age scientist returns to London with his paleontological bag-of-bones discovery from Papua New Guinea. Unfortunately, when exposed to water, flesh returns to the bones ... See full summary »
England, 1795: the young Catherine has just married Charles Fengriffen and moves into his castle. She becomes the victim of an old curse that lays on the family. On her wedding night she is raped by a ghost and gets pregnant.
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
Fairly good entry in the Amicus anthology cycle, even if none of the stories are particularly remarkable (or original). The premise is also quite simple: five men meet inside an elevator which takes them, irrespective of the floor to which they were destined, to the basement of the building where a table has been set up for them; they gather around and, to while away the time until they're rescued, each recounts a recurring dream.
The cast is fine, as usual: Daniel Massey goes in search of his missing sister (real-life sibling Anna), eventually locating her at a remote village where, as it turns out, all the locals (including the woman) are vampires!; this may be the most popular episode but also, perhaps, the most disposable (despite the amusingly outrageous fate awaiting Massey at the end) considering that Amicus had already dealt with the subject of vampires in at least two previous horror compendiums, DR. TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS (1965) and THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (1971). Terry-Thomas is an ageing wealthy man who decides it's high time for him to marry, but ends up literally driving commoner wife Glynis Johns crazy with his obsessive fastidiousness! Curt Jurgens is a magician on holiday in India with wife Dawn Addams: to show off, he exposes a local exponent plying his trade at the market square; humiliated, the latter plots an elaborate and terrible revenge with the aid of his young daughter by intriguing Jurgens with a new trick involving a magic rope.
In the fourth episode, Michael Craig plans to collect his own life insurance (with the help of pal Edward Judd) by faking his own death the latter, however, has no intention of sticking to his part of the bargain (though he's ultimately not allowed to reap the rewards of his fraud and betrayal). Craig eventually wakes up from a deep sleep in his coffin terrorizing a couple of intended body-snatchers into the bargain, but himself runs into the wrong end of the graveyard custodian's shovel! This is the shortest episode and, frankly, I was expecting its ironic punchline to be more grisly and drastic! The last segment is the longest and best, if still offering nothing we haven't seen before: a painter (Tom Baker) living a bohemian existence on a tropical island discovers that promoters of the business (including Denholm Elliott as an influential art dealer) had downplayed his talent in order to acquire his stuff cheaply, and then made a pot for themselves by selling it again at the proper value. He turns to a voodoo priest for revenge, who gives him the power to destroy the subject of his paintings naturally, he draws portraits (from memory and apparently in no time at all!) of his three enemies and has his way with them; what he doesn't know is that, while he's away from the studio, something is about to happen to his self-portrait...
The final revelation is typical of Amicus; while the handling is somewhat pedestrian yet reasonably efficient and the general tone unassuming, this kind of fare has endured by always putting the accent on fun (with the added bonus of star gazing). Incidentally, like its predecessor TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1972), this drew inspiration from the popular EC Comics; as a matter of fact, the film itself was known in some quarters as TALES FROM THE CRYPT, PART II. Having mentioned the latter film, both of these have just been released as a 2-Disc Set DVD by Fox; unfortunately, the print used for THE VAULT OF HORROR (while presented in its OAR, unlike the DivX copy I watched) is reportedly the milder PG-rated edit. There are only a few shots missing but, apart from being awkwardly replaced by still-frames, they actually constitute a couple of delightful reveals and one instance of hardly-shocking gore! Considering the fact that I also own TALES FROM THE CRYPT on DivX and that the DVDs contain no significant extras, I'm content with these versions.
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