Scream Factory really went the extra mile on this one. After announcing the Amicus double feature of Tales From The Crypt (1972) and Vault Of Horror (1973) for Blu-ray — two British anthology pictures based on the great EC Comics of the 50s, they ran into trouble finding uncut material for Vault. This pushed the release date from Halloween to early December. And the result turned out to be worth the wait.
Directed by Freddie Francis
Written by Milton Subotsky
Director Of Photography: Norman Warwick
Cast: Ralph Richardson, Joan Collins, Peter Cushing, Roy Dotrice, Richard Greene, Patrick Magee
Anthology films are always a bit uneven, no matter who makes them. There’s typically one story that stands tall — and sometimes one that falls short. But Amicus had a way with them, and theirs tend to hold up pretty well. With Tales From The Crypt (1972), the visuals are very strong — the work of Freddie Francis and cinematographer Norman Warwick. Images like Peter Cushing coming back from the grave (top) or the biker skeleton are easily identifiable to anyone who ever flipped through a 70s horror movie book or magazine as a kid.
Of course, a lot of the credit has to go to the original source material — those great EC Comics. Milton Subotsky obviously knew how good they were and he wisely left the stories alone, though they traded a bit of the black humor for a Twilight Zone feel. I don’t have a favorite segment, but there are moments throughout the film that have stuck with me for decades. Again, those visuals.
Amicus dug up five more stories from EC for their follow-up to Tales From The Crypt, Vault Of Horror (1973). Roy Ward Baker (A Night To Remember) directs this time, and while it’s not as visually arresting as Crypt, it better captures the overall EC vibe. The black humor is certainly more pronounced. Vault Of Horror was cut here and there over the years by various distributors in various countries, leaving Scream Factory with some real detective work to do to bring us a complete cut. They succeeded, and present both the cut and uncut versions.
On Blu-ray, both Tales From The Crypt and Vault Of Horror look better than I ever thought they would. The color is strong in Crypt, and a bit muted in Vault, but the grain is perfect and the blacks are fine. Both titles really put the distinctive look of film on your TV — and that’s what I want when I drop any disc in my machine. There’s a bit of dust here and there, and a few inconsistencies, all of which I prefer to a bunch of obvious pixel pushing. The mono audio is clear and strong.
Tales From The Crypt and Vault Of Horror are good, creepy, stylish fun. I really appreciate the care Scream Factory put into this set and doubt many companies would’ve bothered. Highly recommended.