Vault of Horror open again

Can you imagine a time when comic books were considered too indecent to be sold?

Such was the case in the early 1950s when William Gaines and Al Feldstein launched the horror comic book series The Vault of Horror, Haunt of Fear, and Tales from the Crypt.

The series, first penned in 1950, was published bi-monthly for five years by EC Comics and was extraordinarily popular with teenagers. The popular series trifecta was abruptly cancelled in 1955 when the authors tried to launch a fourth series called The Crypt of Terror. 

This came at a time when parents, teachers, psychologists and clergymen were all accusing violent comic books as the root of juvenile delinquency.

In 1954, the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency held a series of hearings and it was determined that violence in comics needed to be addressed to protect the morality of youth.

The comic book industry established standards to deal with these concerns and violence, the use of the words “terror” and “horror” were banned along with any references to the occult including things like ghosts, werewolves and vampires.

Thus, the Crypt Keeper, Old Witch and Vault Keeper, the fictional narrators of the terrifyingly formulaic series, were now out of a job as the series was cancelled by 1955. 

Until now.

I was a big collector of horror comics as a child in the 1970s. My local used bookstore in the Lake Bonavista Shopping Centre in Calgary had a huge selection of these series and for just 25 cents each so I loaded up every Saturday.

The comics were disturbingly delightful and frighteningly fantastic. (I was always fascinated with the morbid signing out a book about Halloween week after week from the library when I was in Grade 1.)

Fast forward to this week where I get to combine my two childhood loves, Halloween and horror comics, in our latest show The Vault of Horror.

My inner seven-year-old is going crazy with excitement.

New Vintage Theatre is bringing to life five Vault of Horror classics including Daddy Lost His Head, Terror on The Moors, and Lend Me A Hand along with some original sketches in the pulp fiction style written and performed by local playwrights Cat Bonner, Fatima Khan and Benjamin Stevens.

Popular local actors who will also be starring in the show include Brent Applegath, Kristi Hack, Randy Jernidier, Josie Morrow, Braeden Rachfall, Aly Rothery, Brock Gratz and Reid Gratz.

There will be candy and comic books with every ticket purchased for our live show along with some Halloween tricks and treats.

For those too scared to come out, we are also offering an online ticket to view a filmed version of the play by James Alton. This ticket can be purchased and viewed any time until Nov. 30.

Either way, we promise you a great evening of “juvenile delinquent” fun. Right now the arts need you and you need the arts, so support us and buy a ticket, OK? This show is suitable for 12 plus.

Tickets for New Vintage Theatre’s live Vault of Horror Oct. 29-30 shows at the Black Box Theatre are available at https://www.showpass.com/the-vault-of-horror-live-comic-book-performance/

Online tickets are available at https://www.showpass.com/the-vault-of-horror-online-comic-book-comedy/

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


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About the Author

Bonnie Gratz is an actor, director, and playwright. She is the Artistic Director of Kelowna's New Vintage Theatre, and a member of the Playwright's Guild of Canada and The Literary and Dramaturges of North America. 

For more on Bonnie, check out www.bonnie-gratz.com or check out www.newvintage.ca

Contact Bonnie at:  [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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