Ah.... Vault of Horror. As comfortable as a favourite pair of slippers. As welcome as a scotch on the rocks from the good lady wife when you return from a hard day at the office. As faithful as an...erm, a faithful dog...
... for this is one of those wonderful Amicus British Horror anthologies from the 70's. Great British actors present include Tom Baker, Terry-Thomas and Denholm Elliot. Denholm Elliot is a fantastic actor and always plays exactly the same part - a shifty guy who has double-crossed someone and is now a nervous wreck, in mortal fear of his life. And who then dies. Brilliant.
It all starts with 5 strangers in a lift. The lift doesn't stop at the ground floor (it would be a rubbish film if it did) but goes onto the sub-basement and traps them in a vault. Handily furnished with comfy chairs and alcohol. The 5 pass the time be swapping stories of recent nightmares... nightmares... nightmares... nightmares...
No spoilers ahead - don't worry, something deep inside me, some ancient law of horror prevents me from even thinking about revealing the ending to these delicious little tales of terror. A brief summary of each then:
Midnight Mess A most enjoyable opener. The terrific Daniel Massey (very posh. moustache. you'll recognise him) visits a small, deserted town to do away with his sister, the swine! But where are the inhabitants of the town? And what about that charming little restaurant? What is on the menu?
A Neat Job Wonderful! This one has stayed with me ever since I first saw it aged 8 or 9 back in the day. Terry-Thomas is a stickler for tidiness. Will his wife be able to keep the house tidy enough to meet his expectations? Or will... I've said too much already.
This Trick'll Kill You A pretty poor third installment. A magician searches for a new trick in India. Why, he's desperate enough to kill for it. And there are no repercussions for him whatsoever... Only joking. Obviously there are some repercussions.
Bargain in Death Poor. notable only for the Horror writer's "There's no money in horror!" line and the fact that we see him reading a novelisation of a previous Amicus horror anthology Tales From the Crypt! The plot? He plans an insurance scam that involves him being buried alive. Unwise, as it turns out.
Drawn and Quartered A classic finale. Tom Baker is the wronged artist who wreaks revenge on his wrongers (try saying that after seven Christmas egg-nogs) with the help of some nifty voodoo that allows him to trash his paintings with horrifying consequences for the person in the drawing. One of the wrongers is Denholm Elliott, who plays a shifty guy who has double-crossed someone and is now a nervous wreck, in mortal fear of his life. And who then dies. He always does.
The tales end and we're back in the vault. The lift door lights up. Time for one final twist, perhaps?