The signs depend on where you are, but they are unmistakable. It may be the turning of the leaves, the chill in the air, a whiff of bonfires in the wind or the sudden appearance of 15 different kinds of pumpkin beer in the grocery store but they all indicate the same thing: it’s almost Halloween!

For me (and cable television programmers everywhere), Halloween is the time to pull out the classic horror movies. There are plenty on TV almost every night, but over the next couple of weeks I am going to point you in the direction of a few with ties to magic… and be warned: that pretty much means that magicians are depicted as pure evil!

First up is a little gem with a former Doctor Who star and a magician as a main character. The Fright Night remake? No; like most of the country, I couldn’t quite force myself to buy a ticket to that. Instead I offer you 1973’s Vault of Horror, the second Amicus Productions film based on classic EC Comics (Tales From The Crypt appeared the previous year). It is an anthology and all stories are adaptions of stories that actually ran in EC titles, although ironically none of them actually appeared in issues of Vault of Horror! That might be why the film is sometimes billed as Tales From The Crypt II.

The film opens with a meeting of several apparently unconnected people sharing the stories of their nightmares. Among the offerings are stories of an artist (Doctor #4 Tom Baker) who can kill with his voodoo doll-like paintings, a fun bit of vampiric cannibalism justice, a wife being driven insane by her new husband’s OCD tendencies and an overbearing English magician willing to kill to discover the secret of the Indian Rope Trick.

Although this movie is hardly kid friendly family viewing (unless you are the family from Texas Chainsaw Massacre), it is actually one of the milder offerings I’ll be serving up this October. Even though only one of the stories is magic related, if you like a bit of moderation in your scary movies, this is probably one for you.