19 Apr


Although horror comics and Tales from the Crypt were very American artefacts, 1973’s Vault of Horrors was a very British sub-Hammer luvvie-fest starring the likes of Denholm Elliott, Anna Massey and Terry-Thomas… and yes, in the picture above that’s a pre-Doctor Who but already bug-eyed bonkers Tom Baker playing a deranged artist called Moore in the segment called Drawn and Quartered. “Deranged artist”, he writes, as if there’s any other kind. OK, more deranged and irrational than usual. More deranged, irrational and dangerous even than Tracey Emin, because Moore has a special magic voodoo painting hand. Moore doesn’t seem to have a first name, so let’s call him Tom since Tom Baker blesses us with a fairly good dose of Tom Bakerness in this film.

Tom is cheated when his scumbag gallerist Diltant nicks his paintings and sells them off for a huge profit in cahoots with a crooked critic and a dodgy dealer, while Tom remains penniless and uncelebrated. Also bitter, obviously. Again, I say these things as if there’s any other kind of gallerist, critic or dealer… only joking!


Tom sets out to do do that voodoo that he do’s so well and exact his revenge. It’s a bit like a lowbrow, badly-dressed and greasy-haired 70s nod to The Picture of Dorian Gray, since whatever Tom does to portraits of these wrong ‘uns manifests itself in real life.


Denholm Elliott: scumbag.


First it’s the art critic Breedley, whose portrait gets an iconoclastic intervention from Tom…


… leading to a slight mishap for the real Breedley, who finds out rather too late why his wife keeps a bottle of acid in the living room. Now he’s blind he might at least have an excuse for wearing that shirt.


Art dealer Gaskill, soon to be rendered armless.


A gross violation of occupational health and safety regulations is about to occur. Can you guess how? I think there may be something wrong with me, because I tend to find amputations in films hilarious.


Gallerists in Britain don’t usually pack pistols, which is lucky or I’d probably be dead.


Moore puts the final (and fatal) touches on Diltant’s portrait.


I think many artists will watch this story with some sense of gratification and righteous satisfaction, especially if they’ve recently been suffering from unfair rejections and/or people who work in art galleries behaving like pricks. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that Moore also meets his end under somewhat daft circumstances. Tom Baker is a professional. Don’t try to imitate him and murder your art dealer with voodoo in real life, OK?

The entire film is on Youtube; you can watch Drawn and Quartered here (part one) here (part two) and here (part three).


  1. Alistair 23/04/2013 at 8:59 PM #

    Reblogged this on Alistair Gentry.

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