A Vault of Horror

Author: Keith Topping
Telos Publishing
RRP 12.99, US $17.95, Cdn $24.95
ISBN 1 903889 58 8
Available 19 October 2004

If you will kindly open your hymn books to page 380 you will find
The Vault of Horror, the 1973 film from which this book steals its name. It is one of eighty British horror films released between 1956 and 1974 which are listed in this meaty reference work published by Telos, who have printed several TV and film-related books...

It's undoubtedly sensible that Keith Topping worded the subtitle A Book of 80 Great British Horror Movies, because almost certainly some bright spark would have pointed out a missing entry. As it is, the book is great; it props up my table with a wonky leg, keeps the door open, and even allows me to reach those cobwebs which congregate on the corners of the ceiling.

In all honesty, this book is well structured in its layout. I don't think it makes for casual reading, but anyone with an interest in horror or British films in general will be fascinated by the plethora of facts given for each movie. For me, as I've seen many of these films before, it proved to be a good reminder of those recognisable faces, and allowed me, from a removed position, to compare the merits of one to the cringeworthiness of another.

Categories in the listings do vary somewhat from film to film where relevant, but main ones include Cast and main crew; Tagline; Plot; Themes; Nudity, Violence and Sadomasochism, Roots (being the origins of the story); Trivia; Alternate Versions; background on the main actors; Quote/Unquote (including tasty, humorous or incomprehensible dialogue); Critique (what the media thought of the film); and a personal review from Topping himself. A handful of colour renditions of film posters (some of them foreign versions) make up the centre pages.

A useful guide book for the uninitiated.

Ty Power

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