Graphic Horror: Vault of Horror
Vault of Horror 1973
Following up from the Tales From the Crypt adaptation the year before comes yet another adaptation of several of the EC Comics stories from their various horror comics like Tales From the Crypt, Vault of Horror, Haunt of Fear, and others. It follows basically the same format as Tales From the Crypt with a frame story about several people coming together and telling tales of their demises. The difference is that this time they are all taking an elevator that brings them to the sublevel instead of the ground floor, and they are talking about these vivid dreams they’ve been having, and also there is no curator inviting them to speak, instead they bring up speaking on their own, and there is no woman in this group. There’s also something about the stories in general that weren’t as interesting overall as several of the ones in the Tales From the Crypt anthology. I also found it interesting, even though I’m not a Doctor Who fan at all but I noticed that Tom Baker is one of the main characters in one of the stories.
I think what this movie suffers from that Tales From the Crypt didn’t is that there is a lack of characters that you actually sympathize for. The strongest stories in the first movie were the ones that had a character like the trash collector or the blind man who you cared about what happens to him and root for the other character to get their comeuppance. In this movie, the closest thing to that character is Tom Baker’s painter in the final segment who is getting revenge on the art dealers and brokers who he feels screwed him over. The rest of the characters in the movie are bad characters going after other bad characters and suffer bad consequences in return. It still makes for an occasionally interesting story, but not enough to really draw you into the stories.
I will talk about that one story that I did like the best which was the final tale of the painter. He goes to a voodoo priest in order to get “the voodoo” which the priest gives to him in his hand. And now, whatever he paints comes true, something which also reminded me of an episode of the TV show that was done much better and much lighter with Harry Anderson as the lead character. He starts out by testing it by sketching a vase, and shortly after he rips up the paper, the vase falls and breaks. He then sketches a piece of bread which he puts on the floor, erases a corner of it and a rat comes along to eat that corner of the bread. He also has a self portrait which he draws a small red line on his face when he later gets a cut in the exact same place. He tries to protect his portrait by placing it in a large safe, but it backfires and he starts suffocating because the painting needs air to breathe as well. The ending is equal parts interesting, but also weak due to how telegraphed it is.
The other stories were of variable interest, it opens with a tale of vampires that end up having the most ridiculous fangs I have ever seen in my entire life, though I was impressed with the visual effect where they pull open a curtain in this restaurant revealing a large wall sized mirror that shows the only person in the building with a reflection is the man. I also really disliked the story with the overly tidy man and his younger wife who eventually becomes so terrified of his “temper” that she freaks out when it’s nearly time for him to be home and ends up making a huge mess. Unfortunately his temper is so mild that it’s hard to relate to the woman when all he does is whine about things not being done neatly, and would have been much more impactful if there were some hints of physical abuse. And finally there’s the tale of the magician and his wife trying to get the secret behind the Indian rope trick which also really falls as flat as the woman who does the trick. It also doesn’t help that the idea of a man being attacked by a snake-like rope ends up being quite comical.
After the promise of Tales From the Crypt, I was actually quite disappointed with Vault of Horror. I had hoped that there would be more shorts that showed the same kind of promise that the best two did. But instead I was treated to a batch of five that were as bad as the worst entries with only a single story coming up to being merely mediocre. It wasn’t a horrible experience by any means, but it was quite a bit of average to below average horror where nearly any episode of the TV series would easily top. Not only that, but I struggled to catch any visually interesting moments during the movie besides the one I used that’s right near the end of the movie. If you’re curious, I’d refer you to the Tales From the Crypt movie from the year before, or just try to find the final segment from this movie anywhere if you can. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.