THE VAULT OF HORROR
The Vault of Horror is a lesser effort than Tales from the Crypt. Director Roy Ward Baker, who had earlier made the fine anthology Asylum (1972) for Amicus, has an eye for atmosphere and often gruesome shock effect. On the other hand, several of the stories, particularly the second and fourth, are forgettable. The first segment with its image of vampires planting spigots in a victims jugular just like a wine cask is one of the most memorable panels from ECs horror comics and is often reprinted. Alas, the segment misses the black humour element that the original strip came with. The story is otherwise pedestrian and the twist ending balances over into ludicrousness.
The second episode, featuring Terry-Thomas playing a straight role for about the only time in his career, is slight. There is an effective build-up of tension as everything starts to go wrong for Glynis Johns as he comes home and a grotesque twist ending that almost verges on EC-esque black humour. Bargain in Death is the most forgettable of the episodes and lacks any atmospheric buildup, while the payoff is unsurprising. This Trickll Kill You is modestly effective and has an intriguing story. The rope effects are good and there is one particularly gruesome effect when a fakir manages to push a knife through his cheek.
The best and longest is the last story Drawn and Quartered, featuring a pre-Doctor Who (1963-89) Tom Baker who gives an alarming performance as the vengeful artist. The episode has an impressive central idea and it is fascinating in watching each victims fate unfold, even if the story does arrive at a predictable ending. The linking story, essentially a rerun of the framework in Dr Terrors House of Horrors (1964), is weak. Douglas Gamley offers a decent score.
Amicuss other horror films are: Dr Terrors House of Horrors (1964), Torture Garden (1967), The House That Dripped Blood (1970), Asylum (1972), Tales from the Crypt (1972) and From Beyond the Grave (1973).
Roy Ward Baker became one of the prominent directors to rise in the latter decade of the Anglo-horror industry. Elsewhere, Baker made Quatermass and the Pit/Five Million Years to Earth (1967), Moon Zero Two (1969), The Vampire Lovers (1970), Scars of Dracula (1971), Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971) and Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974) at Hammer; Asylum (1972) and ... And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973) at Amicus; and the post-Amicus The Monster Club (1980).