“The Vault of Horror”

Review on 1950s Audio Drama


Photo by Morgan Kasel

Entertaining Comics, a company well known for their thriller and suspense comics, also produced an audio drama. With over 60 voice actors in the first season, “The Vault of Horror” is perfect to listen to on a chilly autumn night.

Morgan Kasel, Assistant Editor

When we are not rushing to soccer practices, games or events, my family has a tradition of movie night on the weekends. My mom, dad, brother and I all take turns picking which film to watch. However, this “movie” night was a little different. Instead of turning on the TV, we turned on the speaker to listen to a 1950s audio drama based on a series of stories by Entertaining Comics.

Entertaining Comics, or EC, was established in 1944. While the company is most known for horror, mystery and dark fantasy comics, in 1956 EC decided to focus solely on their new comic, MAD, and stopped printing all other stories. However, comics such as “Tales from the Crypt and Crime SuspenStoriesare still popular to this day. 

Although I personally prefer reading over listening, my dad, after discovering EC’s “The Vault of Horror” audio drama, decided to replace family movie night with family radio night. We lit the fireplace, turned off all the lights and began the first story: “Portraits in Wax.”

The story takes place in Paris, France and follows two roommates who are struggling to make ends meet. Both characters are artists, however, while Robert makes beautiful pieces, he refuses to sell them because he does not want the fame or money that could possibly follow. Jealous of his roommate’s talent, Henri decides to sell Robert’s pieces to a rich art collector, claiming the artwork as his own. Eventually, his roommate finds out, but Henri is not about to give up his newfound money and fame.

As I stated before, I typically do not enjoy listening to audiobooks or podcasts, usually because there are only one or two narrators for all of the characters. However, as mentioned in the summary of the series, “The Vault of Horror’s” first season has a total of 60 voice actors. Every character in a story is played by a different actor, making the drama more similar to a theatre production than an audiobook reading. There is a narrator that introduces each story and provides context in between the dialogue, which perfectly ties the stories together and makes the plots easy to follow.  I became fully invested in the tales right from the start. 

Each episode contains two stories, so along with “Portraits in Wax,” my family also listened to “The Werewolf Legend.” I tend to avoid anything that has to do with horror as best as I can, and while both of these episodes were centered around a thriller theme, I enjoyed listening to the stories and trying to decipher the mysteries. Overall, the storylines were intriguing and since neither of the tales included any jumpscares, I was more than happy to listen.

The Werewolf Legend was a little more gruesome than the first story we listened to, mostly because of the sound effects that accompanied each death. When Walter Mallory starts having nightmares that he is a werewolf, he begins to see himself as a murderer, especially when the people he “dreams” he kills are discovered dead the next day. His cousin Gregory points out a strange legend that has accompanied the Mallory name for decades: the werewolf legend. Scared of what he is becoming, Walter attempts to seek help from the local police. However, is he really the killer? After all, there are no such things as werewolves, right? This story was probably my favorite out of the two, however, I found both parts of episode one every entertaining. 

There are a total of 11 episodes in “The Vault of Horror.” With interesting storylines, fun characters and engaging mysteries, I would definitely recommend this audio drama for a chilly autumn night. You can listen to “The Vault of Horroron Audible