Five men enter an elevator in a London building. Instead of taking them
to the ground floor, it whisks them to a basement, where they become
hopelessly trapped. While they wait to be rescued, they pass the time
by telling each other their most recent ( and strange ) dreams.
Rogers ( Daniel Massey ) tracks down his missing sister to a strange
town and kills her. She had recently inherited the family fortune,
which he wants for himself. But he did not know that she had become a
Critchit ( Terry-Thomas ), a man of fastidious habits and with an
obsession for neatness, marries the lovely Eleanor ( Glynis Johns ).
His constant complaining about her untidiness drives her mad, and he
winds up inside his collection of storage jars...
Sebastian ( Curt Jurgens ) is a professional stage magician. After
seeing the Indian Rope Trick for himself, he is impressed sufficiently
to want it for his own act and resorts to murder. He now has enough
rope to hang himself...
Maitland ( Michael Craig ) comes up with the perfect insurance scam. He
takes a drug designed to simulate a heart attack, and then arranges for
a friend ( Edward Judd ) to collect the money, then go the cemetery
where he is buried and dig him up. But the unexpected intervention of a
pair of medical students causes him to lose his head...
Moore ( Tom Baker ) is an artist who acquires voodoo powers in Haiti.
From now on, anything he paints comes magically to life. Returning to
London, he uses this ability to avenge himself on the three art
dealers/critics who swindled him out of a fortune...
One year after the financially successful 'Tales From The Crypt',
Amicus were back with more weird tales from the E.C. Comics' back
catalogue, all vividly brought to life by a fine British ( apart from
Curt Jurgens ) cast. With the likes of Arthur Mullard ( as a
gravedigger ), Tommy Godfrey, Robin Nedwell, Geoffrey Davies, and
Terry-Thomas around, it is fair to say that this is hardly 'The
Exorcist' ( which also opened that year ) though.
What it is is an entertaining horror picture boasting good stories and
nice black comedy touches. The casting of Nedwell and Davies as medical
students was in itself a joke, as they were known for their roles as
'Dr.Duncan Waring' and 'Dr.Dick Stuart-Clark' in I.T.V.'s 'Doctor'
series. For copyright reasons, they had to be renamed 'Tom' and
'Jerry'! ( why didn't Hanna Barbera kick up a stink about that? ). When
Steve Coogan did a spoof of this movie for his 'Dr.Terrible's House Of
Horrible' show a few years back, it fell flat because the original was
funny to start with.
Logic occasionally goes out of the window. Why does Maitland so
implicitly trust his friend to dig him up out of the grave? Why does
Rogers have a meal in a restaurant only a few yards from the spot where
he just killed his sister? Why does the air in Moore's safe take so
long to run out? Answers on a headstone please.
The cast are, as one would expect, marvellous. Tom Baker is suitably
menacing in one of his last roles before putting on his scarf and hat
to become the fourth 'Dr.Who'. Terry-Thomas is hilarious as the ever-so
neat and tidy Critchit, a sort of English 'Felix Ungar' from 'The Odd
Couple'. Distinguished thesps Denholm Elliott and Terence Alexander are
also around. The late Daniel Massey appears opposite his real-life
sister Anna, a neat bit of novelty casting Amicus pulled off again in
1975 when 'From Beyond The Grave' teamed Donald Pleasence with daughter
Angela. Getting top-draw actors to commit themselves to a few days'
filming worked a treat and was preferable ( in my eyes, at least ) to
watching talentless teenagers pretending to be scared by a loony in a
'Vault' has for a long time played on television in a cut version,
without the scene where Rogers is hung upside down by vampires who then
drink his blood through a tap they installed in his neck. That was in
the most recent version I saw ( on Film 4 ), although the climax where
the trapped men turn into walking corpses still is missing. The ending
is never in any real doubt of course. Anyone who saw even one of
Amicus' earlier multi-storey horror pictures will be able to predict it
well in advance. But if you like your horror slightly refined, and not
just consisting of non-stop blood and gore, you should seriously
consider opening this particular vault.