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Blu-ray Review: Tales From The Crypt / Vault Of Horror [Double Feature]
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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Tales From The Crypt / Vault Of Horror [Double Feature]

Tales From The Crypt
Blu-ray
Director: Freddie Francis
Screenwriter: Milton Subotsky
Cast: Ralph Richardson, Joan Collins, Peter Cushing, Roy Dotrice, Richard Greene, Patrick Magee
Scream Factory
Rated PG | 83 Minutes
Release Date: December 2, 2014

Synopsis: “When five unwary travelers with dark hearts stumble into a series of catacombs, they find themselves in a cavern with no way out. But the horror’s only just begun as a mysterious figure appears to reveal to each person the shocking events that will lead to their well-deserved, untimely – and unavoidable – demise. Starring Joan Collins (Empire Of The Ants), Peter Cushing (Horror Of Dracula), Patrick Magee (A Clockwork Orange) and Sir Ralph Richardson (Rollerball), and directed by Freddie Francis (The Creeping Flesh), Tales from the Crypt is the original, gets-right-under-your-skin creepfest!”

Tales from the Crypt is an anthology film based on stories from EC Comics. Only two of the film’s stories, however, are from EC’s Tales from the Crypt. Three of the film’s segments – “…And All Through the House,” “Poetic Justice,” and “Wish You Were Here” – were adapted from The Vault of Horror and The Haunt of Fear comics.

Richardson plays the Crypt Keeper, but this isn’t the wisecracking animated corpse from the HBO television series or the films Demon Knight, Bordello of Blood, and Ritual. Here, the Crypt Keeper is a crusty old dude in a monk’s cowl – a sinister Obi-Wan Kenobi, basically. Unfortunately, Richard’s stuffy, somber Keeper sets the tone for the entire film, which isn’t nearly as fun or scary as it should be.

As a ’70s British production, Tales from the Crypt is handsomely crafted and solidly performed, like those wonderful Hammer Horror films The Satanic Rites of Dracula and Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb. It just isn’t particularly thrilling (or chilling). If anything, the film’s greatest contribution is Peter Cushing as Arthur Grimsdyke, who is resurrected from the dead as one of horror’s most iconic zombies ever.

Tales from the Crypt - Peter Cushing

Tales from the Crypt is sophisticated schlock – a stuffy (i.e very British) adaptation of American pulp horror that refuses to acknowledge its lurid and sensational roots. Perhaps I’m too influenced by the over-the-top insanity of the HBO series, but Freddy Francis’ 1972 film feels about as stiff as a corpse and as wooden as the casket it’s crawling out of.

Still, this Scream Factory Blu-ray release is beautifully remastered, with a 1080p high-definition presentation and DTS-HD Master Audio Mono. If you’re a die-hard horror fan or Scream Factory completest, you’ll find a lot of value in this double feature – but for those with a fond affection for the ’90s iteration of EC Comics’ famous series, there isn’t much fun to be had.

Vault Of Horror
Blu-ray
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Screenwriter: Milton Subotsky
Cast:Terry-Thomas, Curd Jürgens, Tom Baker, Dawn Addams, Denholm Elliott, Michael Craig
Scream Factory
Not Rated | 86 Minutes
Release Date: December 2, 2014

Synopsis: “Five unsuspecting hotel guests step into an elevator, which leads them into an underground vault. Trapped with no way out, each guest shares a gruesome tale of an encounter with death. But as the stories unfold, the men begin to suspect that their presence in the vault is no coincidence, and that the only way out… is death. Starring Tom Baker (Doctor Who), Denholm Elliott (Raiders Of The Lost Ark), Curt Jurgens (The Mephisto Waltz) and Michael Craig (Mysterious Island), this ferociously entertaining film is a worthy sequel to Tales from the Crypt!”

Based on stories from the EC Comics series, Vault of Horror is an anthology film consisting of five stories: “Midnight Mess,” “The Neat Job,” “This Trick’ll Kill You,” “Bargain in Death,” and “Drawn and Quartered.” Interestingly enough, none of the film’s stories are actually from the Vault of Horror comic series. “The Neat Job” appeared in Shock SuspenStories #1 while the rest appeared in Tales from the Crypt.

1973’s Vault of Horror is more entertaining than its predecessor. Written by Milton Subotsky (Tales from the Crypt) and directed by Roy Ward Baker (The Vampire Lovers, Asylum), it’s a stylish sequel that feels closer to Creepshow than Crypt. While it remains simplistic in terms of plot contrivances, Vault is more tongue-in-cheek – less stuffy and more schlocky (just the way I like it!).

Overall, Scream Factory’s Tales from the Crypt/Vault of Horror Blu-ray double feature is worth a look for horror enthusiasts. As always, Scream Factory has gone above and beyond in delivering a top-notch Blu-ray transfer of two films forgotten by the mainstream. With excellent 1080p transfers, this is the best these films have ever looked. This double feature set is short on extras but $17.99 is more than reasonable for two ’70s horror anthologies!

You can purchase Tales from the Crypt / Vault of Horror on Amazon.

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