Ironically, none of the stories are actually from Vault of Horror comics. All but one are from Tales from the Crypt, and one is from Shock SuspenStories (see the issue citations below). Also missing from the movie is the Vault-Keeper character.
Five strangers meet in a lift in a non-descript office block in London. They find themselves taken to the sub-basement level, although none of them appears to have pressed for that location. Once there, they discover a plush room they think is a gentlemen’s club, and find that the lift door has closed behind them and they can’t get out. Resigned to waiting for help, they settle down with some drinks and discuss their lifelike recurring nightmares.
Midnight Mess (Tales from the Crypt #35) - Harold (although credited as Rodgers) (Daniel Massey) tracks down his sister Donna (Anna Massey) to a strange little town and kills her so that he can claim their inheritance. After settling down for a post murder meal at the local restaurant, he discovers the town is home to a nest of vampires, his sister may not be as dead as he thinks, and he is the dish of the day when his jugular vein is tapped out as a beverage dispenser.
The Neat Job (Shock SuspenStories #1)– Gritchit (Thomas) is an obsessively neat individual who marries Eleanor (Johns), a younger trophy wife who turns out not to be the domestic goddess he hoped for. His constant nagging and bullying about the mess she makes eventually drives her mad and she hits him over the head with a hammer before cutting him up and stacking the pieces neatly in jars in their basement – including his “odds and ends.”
This Trick’ll Kill You (Tales from the Crypt #33)– Sebastian (Jurgens) is a magician on a working holiday in India, where he and his wife are trying to find new tricks. Nothing impresses until he sees a girl charming a rope out of a basket with a flute. Unable to work out how the trick is done, he persuades her to come to his hotel room, kills her and he and his wife try to make the trick their own. The rope has other ideas though; his wife disappears, an ominous patch of blood appears on the roof, and he is left hanging.
Bargain in Death (Tales from the Crypt #28) – Maitland (Craig) is buried alive as part of an insurance scam concocted with his friend Alex, but Alex double-crosses Maitland, leaving him to suffocate. Two trainee doctors (Robin Nedwell and Geoffrey Davies) bribe a gravedigger (Arthur Mullard) to dig up his “corpse” to help with their studies. When Maitland’s coffin is opened, he jumps up gasping for air, causing the doctors to run out into the middle of the road in front of Alex’s car, which crashes. The gravedigger kills Maitland, apologising to the doctors for the damage to the head.
Drawn and Quartered (Tales from the Crypt #26) – Moore (Baker) is a poor painter living on Haiti. When he finds that he has been cheated by members of the art establishment, he goes to a voodoo priest and his paintings are given voodoo power – what is done to them happens to their subjects. He paints his betrayers and takes his revenge, but leaves a self portrait in his glass-roofed studio below where men are working with turpentine, and suffers for his art.
When the story of the final dream is told, the five ponder the meaning of their nightmares. The lift door opens, and the five find themselves looking out onto a graveyard. They walk out and disappear one by one. The last (Jurgens) explains that they are damned souls doomed to tell the story of their evil deeds for all eternity.
This version is edited, with some of the gorier scenes removed/altered:
The supposedly complete, restored uncensored version was first shown on the British TV channel Film4 on August 25 2008. However, even this version omitted the original closing shots of the film, where the main characters are seen with skeletal faces, indicating their clearly-deceased state.