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Vault Of Horror (1973)


A year after filming Al Feinstein's Tales From The Crypt, Amicus did the same thing with another Feinstein publication - Vault Of Horror. And while the director might have changed (this time to Roy Ward Baker), the film is more or less a carbon copy.

Well, actually, it's a lesser copy - same big name British cast, same scenario, same spooky tale - just not quite as memorable. This time the cast includes the wonderful Terry Thomas (above), Tom 'Dr Who' Baker, Denholm Elliott and numerous other actors you probably remember briefly from your childhood.


The tale starts mysteriously with five men in a lift...heading to a circular room with no escape. Just five dining chairs around a table and four sideboards around them (all very collectable Merrow Associates pieces design fans). Each of the men has a dream is his mind - and all feel the urge to tell the group of this tale. But why are they in the room? And why do they need to share their dreams? All is revealed in the final scenes (but you'll second guess why within the first five minutes).

Each story is a British (and indeed 1970s) take on a classic 'Vault' short story, opening with vampires in a small English town, following up with a tale of one man's obsession with tidiness - and its part in his downfall, as well as a story of an Indian snake-charmer's revenge, then one about a man buried alive for insurance money and finally, the best of the bunch - with Tom Baker as an artist seeking revenge on those who have betrayed him with voodoo.

The whole thing is hard to criticise - solid performances, decent little horror tales, just enough suspense and the whole thing held together well with a decent (if predictable) plot. But it's also Amicus by numbers. The company was big on these horror anthologies during the era and this one certainly isn't the best. The stories aren't up with the Tales From The Crypt selection, there isn't a stand-out performance (like Peter Cushing in 'Crypt') and the twist isn't a million miles away from the one used a year previous.

Yet despite that, it's hard not to like this film. For fans of the era and of British horror, this is around 90 minutes of solid entertainment, with as many (unintentional) laughs as shocks. No classic, but just possibly a hidden gem.

Find out more about the DVD at


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