Category Archives: Roy Ward Baker

Blu-ray Review: Tales From The Crypt (1972) And Vault Of Horror (1973).

TFC PC comes back

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.

tales01_vamosalcine

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

Tales bikeAnthology 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.

vault_of_horror_poster
Directed by Roy Ward Baker
Written by Milton Subotsky
Director Of Photography: Denys Coop
Cast: Terry-Thomas, Curd Jürgens, Tom Baker, Dawn Addams, Denholm Elliott, Michael Craig

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.

Vault vampire

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1972, 1973, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Freddie Francis, Peter Cushing, Roy Ward Baker, Shout/Scream Factory

TCM Alert: That Old Sinking Feeling.

10390477_10152893480180396_2709995442140678061_n

Grab a life vest, a bowl of popcorn and a box of Raisinets. Because tonight, TCM is going down with the ships.

The Poseidon Adventure (1972) was a huge deal when I was growing up. I remember the TV spots and poster (“Hell, upside down”) hanging outside the theater in Thomasville, Georgia. I couldn’t wait to see it. It begins as a soap opera, then puts the entire cast through absolute hell. Movies don’t get much more entertaining than this one.

13

A Night To Remember (1958) did more on its modest budget more than the newer Titanic picture accomplished with an endless supply of cash. (Don’t get me started on that thing.) A Night To Remember masterfully combines history, social commentary, excitement, heartbreak and suspense — even though we know how it’s gonna end — and made me the Titanic geek I am today. There are so many incredible touches in this film, courtesy of Roy Ward Baker’s assured direction. For instance, the serving cart that appears throughout to illustrate the listing of the ship — it sails across the room and crashes into the wall just as all hell breaks loose among the passengers still on board. Of course, the events of April, 1912 are a great story — and this is a great example of storytelling on film. One of the most powerful movies I’ve ever seen. (The public library here in Raleigh had a gorgeous 16mm print of A Night To Remember that I checked out several times. Heard later that all those prints were pitched into the dumpster.)

Leave a comment

Filed under 1958, 1972, Ernest Borgnine, Gene Hackman, Roy Ward Baker, TCM