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
The problem with these horror omnibuses is that while they often feature one or two good tales, they're often spoilt by a couple of bad ones. I went into 'The Vault of Horror' expecting at least three of the five tales to be dismal; but to my surprise, this actually turned out to be one of the rare omnibuses - every tale is good! Roy Ward Baker, the man behind the excellent omnibus 'Asylum' (among other excellent films, such as Quatermass and the Pit and The Vampire Lovers) helms this project, and does an even better job than he did with Asylum. The film features a diverse range of stories, all of which are well told and very imaginative. The movie kicks off with it's weakest tale; one of vampirism, but even that one certainly isn't bad and offers up some camp fun. We then move on to an excellent tale about a neatness-obsessed man who comes a cropper when he continually criticises his new wife's lack of enthusiasm for his obsession. The third, and best of the first part of the quintet, features a rope charmer and a magician, and makes for compelling viewing because there aren't many tales of this nature within the horror genre.
The final two tales take influence from some of the true classics of horror and make for interesting viewing to say the least. The fourth tale in the film sees a man trying to trick an insurance company by slowing his heart down and being buried alive. While this tale is predictable, it is kept alive by the horror of premature burial and while it doesn't truly echo the brilliance of Edgar Allen Poe; it's a nice entry into the film. The Vault of Horror saves the best story until the end. The final tale is a great mix of voodoo and vengeance, and works thanks to a constant sense of intrigue and some horrific sequences. The film on the whole is very camp; and while the acting and script are rather trite, it's low budget styling pulls it through and ensures that the film is an enjoyable ride throughout. The wraparound story hinges a little too much on coincidence at first, and seems a little silly; but this is resolved at the end, and when we finally realise why these stories are being told - the film falls into place. On the whole, this is one of the best horror omnibuses that I've seen and I give it a firm two thumbs up!
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