The Vault Of Horror #12
0 comment Saturday, May 3, 2014 |
Here it is, folks. The one that started it all. After having a few guest appearances where he told chilling tales of horror in the EC crime magazine War Against Crime, the Vault-Keeper landed his own permanent residence with issue number 12. The title was then changed to the Vault of Horror and the rest was hisssstory. The shocking terror wave that was to be known as EC Comics had its dark roots in this very issue, the first in their cavalcade of creepy comics...
Written and drawn by Johnny Craig
Robert is a hard working artist living in 1930�s Paris with his roommate Henry in a squalid studio. Robert constantly creates beautiful etchings but has no desire to profit from them. This is enrages Henry quite a bit, who thirsts for fame and fortune so much that he begins to sell Robert�s etchings to a gullible art dealer for high prices. After Robert sees his work hanging in a private art collection, he confronts Henry about his dubious dealings. Desperate to keep his reputation intact, Henry hurls a bottle of acid at Robert, completely destroying his face and causing him to faint. After Henry quickly disposes of the body in a large vat of burning acid, he heads to London and proceeds to live in the lap of luxury from Robert�s art. When the etchings start running low, Henry visits a strange old man named Jules Vendette who creates incredibly life-like wax statues of famous deceased personalities. Striking up a partnership with the sculptor to open a museum, Henry soon learns his plagiarizing days are over when he learns of Jules� true vendetta�
Ahh, the wax museum. A happy haunting ground for many stories of the strange and weird. This story undoubtedly drew its influences from the film "Mystery of the Wax Museum," another tale of horrible revenge set amongst the cold, watching eyes of the macabre figurines. No surprises for anyone who has already read something like this before, but that doesn't keep it from being a fun ride all around.
Written by Gardner Fox, Art by Wally Wood and Harry Harrison
In the county of Devon in England, young Walter Mallory finds himself stalking about the forest outside his mansion, now in the form of a ravenous werewolf. Finding his victim, Walter easily chases him down and rips him apart with fang and claw. The next morning Walter awakens to discover his sheets and windowpane smeared with blood and an ugly snout staring back at him from the bathroom mirror. Recovering from his faint, Walter later attends breakfast with his cousin Gregory where he learns of the previous night�s murder. Gregory suggests his cousin relax by going into the dusty library to read. There Walter discovers a set of old manuscripts detailing a curse in the Mallory family, one that has caused a member of each generation to become a homicidal beast under the light of the full moon. After Walter suffers another night of torture and blood, he goes to the village police to plead for them to stop his mad bloodlust. Will they keep Walter from killing again, or will an even more insidious secret come to light�?
I love me a good ol' werewolf story. There's just something about those furry critters that scratches my tummy in all the right places. This one has all the elements of a fine lycanthrope tale: brooding English castle and countryside, bloodthirsty monster, shady characters and, hell why not, a little mystery to keep the reader on their hairy toes. Rawr.
Written by Ivan Klapper, Art by Harvey Kurtzman
Tom Hawkins, owner of a colony of tourist cabins, is just pouring himself a strong drink to settle his jangling nerves. Tom�s brother Jim pops in, distressed to see his sibling in such a stressed disposition. Tom explains to his brother that he�s been haunted by an eerie feeling that something terrible is to occur in the near future. Tom has suffered a most horrendous and strange dream, one that seems to be warning him of danger. In the dream, a couple arrived at the cabins just before noon. The husband had seemed normal enough, but the wife appeared to have a wild, mad look in her eyes. Tom�s suspicions are confirmed later when he becomes a ghost-like watcher in the couple�s room. He can only watch in utter horror as the insane woman attempts to escape the cabins, tearing an innocent cat to pieces in the process. The husband attempt to keep his ghoulish companion locked in before he can take her to the asylum the following morning. When the mad mistress attempts to flee again, a terrible fight erupts between the couple, ending in the husband strangling his bestial wife to death. Remorseful of his deed and the condition of his wife that was brought on by the death of their baby, the man ends his life by shooting himself. Is Tom�s dream just a surreal excursion into the fantastic, or is it perhaps a frightening premonition of what is to come�?
Well there's something different. The story at first seems to have the trappings of a "Twilight Zone" episode with our protagonist suffering from a horrible premonition. But then things quickly turn dark and surprisingly gruesome. Kurtzman's characters are drawn in a way that makes them almost outlandish but at the same time frighteningly human. The mad woman's eyes are pretty eerie and certainly give the impression that she has a few screws loose. The acts she commits later in the story only enhance that impression. Ka-rayzaaaay...
Written and drawn by Al Feldstein
Gloria hurriedly hails down a taxi cab and demands to be taken to the nearest train station. You see, her husband Ralph is planning on murdering her. Gloria started suspecting this when Ralph began exhibiting peculiar behaviors, like when he brought a jar of poison home, only cryptically intoning that he wished to use it for his own purposes. Gloria also caught Ralph standing over her in bed one night, a kitchen knife clutched in his hand. He said that he had found beneath Gloria�s pillow, but she knew better. After Ralph tells her that he has taken out some expensive life insurance policies for the both of them, she knows the terrible motive behind her husband�s deeds. But she can�t escape him so easily. Just as the train begins to chug away, Gloria catches a glimpse of a man who resembles Ralph boarding the train at the last minute. Distraught with fear, she heads to the club car for a strong drink only to see Ralph�s face appear for an instant in the smoky mirrors. That night as she sleeps, Gloria is awoken by a piercing shriek and soon discovers that she is aboard a train full of slaughtered corpses. Making her getaway at a lonely cabin in the country, Gloria soon finds a terrible fate waiting for her within the strangling confines of a casket. At the climax of her terror, the horrible truth behind her night of horror will be revealed to her�
An awesome tale of suspense to wrap the issue up. I've always enjoyed Feldstein's crisp drawing techniques. His art may come off as a bit stiff (heh heh) to some, but to me it is an exquisite example of classic comic book art. And boy can he draw the best faces of fear. Gloria's anguished visages remain in one's mind in stark detail for some time. Just be sure not to leave her up there for too long. She'll drive you batty.
Awhahaha! What can I possibly add to what's already been said? The issue serves as an exclusive look into the great things EC would do in the future. The stories are frightening, the art is superb, and to the horror connoisseur it's tastier than a pile of rotting chum! I give it two chuckling fins up! Dohohohohoho!

Labels: , , , , , ,