Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Fab at 50 | 1963's The Haunted Palace - just one of seven Vincent Price films celebrating their 50th anniversary

1963 was certainly a very good year for the merchant of menace Vincent Price as he had seven films hitting US cinemas throughout the year. The Raven, which also starred Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre, was released on 25 January, while the underrated Diary of a Madman came out on 6 March.

In July, he had a cameo as Big Daddy in July's Beach Party musical, while August saw the Italian-made swashbuckler Rage of the Buccaneers (which was actually made in 1961) and the HP Lovecraft-inspired chiller The Haunted Palace heading into cinemas and drive-ins (with Palace being today). Capping off the summer, Twice-Told Tales, featuring Vinnie in three different roles, would be released in September, while The Comedy of Terrors, which again teamed him up with Karloff and Lorre, as well as Basil Rathbone, would close the year, coming out on Christmas day.

Happy 50th anniversary one and all...


Monday, 26 August 2013

Friday, 23 August 2013

Blu-ray review | The Fall of the House of Usher (1960) | Roger Corman’s American gothic classic rises again in lush HD

In this striking 1960 elaboration on Edgar Allan Poe’s 1839 short story, Philip Winthrop (Mark Damon) arrives at the crumbling New England mansion of the Usher family to seek out his fiancĂ©e Madeleine (Myrna Fahey) and is promptly warned by her brother Roderick (Vincent Price) against marriage because the family is cursed with 'a history of savage degradations' which sends them mad. When Madeleine suddenly dies, Philip goes into mourning and his intended bride is quickly interred in the family crypt. But he is unaware that Roderick has buried his catatonic sister alive…

Vincent Price in House of Usher

At the end of the 1950s, rubber suit monsters were the mainstay of American horror films, while over the pond Hammer was packing cinemas with their full-blooded restaging of the Frankenstein and Dracula characters. Indie maverick Roger Corman quickly followed suit, combining America’s answer to the gothic, Edgar Allen Poe, CinemaScope and his trump card, Vincent Price.

The result was this minor masterpiece, which stays faithful to Poe as it tells the story of Roderick Usher (played by Price as a white haired, ashen faced aesthete, decked in a blood red robe) who longs for an end to his family’s curse which has impregnated the very walls of his crumbling mansion and has distorted his psyche and that of his sister - which is chillingly echoed in the line: 'The slightest touch and we may shatter'.

Price gives an intentionally concentrated, eerie and sad turn here and lends the film a mellifluous quality that brings to life Corman's Freudian take on Poes themes of inner corruption. It was a performance that would solidify Price’s new status as the crown prince of horror - that had kicked in while he was working on William Castle’s House on Haunted Hill and The Tingler - and which makes this film so chillingly memorable over half a century on.

Richard Matheson's intelligent script is enhanced by Floyd Crosby's atmospheric widescreen cinematography, whose psychedelic scenes tapped into the counter-culture movement of the day, while Daniel Haller makes the hired-in Universal sets look even more sumptuous. Coupled with Corman’s whip-smart direction and quick turnaround (the film was shot in 15 days), a rousing Les Baxter score and Price’s star quality, the style established here would be carried over in seven more Poe films, ending with The Tomb of Ligeia in 1964. But they would never have been made had Usher not set the box-office alight, which it did - earning in excess of $1 million back from its $250,000 budget ($50,000 of which was Price’s fee) when it premiered in the US on 18 June 1960.


In a world first, Arrow presents a Region B HD Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the feature, transferred and restored using the original film elements by MGM and original uncompressed 2.0 Mono PCM Audio. Optional SDH subtitles.

• The Roger Corman audio commentary is the same as on the previous MGM DVD release, but the maestro is still a joy to listen to. (79:19)
Legend to Legend Director Joe Dante gives his thoughts on the film and on working with Corman. (26:47)
• Gothic horror expert Jonathan Rigby provides an informative insight into the history of the film, and on Corman and Price. (32:58)
Fragments of the House of Usher This video essay by critic and filmmaker David Cairns is a super little film studies analysis. I never knew the original story had gay overtones or that the film was ‘the perfect marriage of the oneric to the economic?’ (10:47)
• This French interview with Vincent Price has popped up on other DVD releases, but the transfer here is the best yet. It was shot at Price’s Malibu cottage in July 1986, the same year that he was doing The Great Mouse Detective for Disney, which was one of his last best performances. Ever the consummate raconteur, he provides the interviewer with some wonderful quotes, like the following, about why his horror films have stood the test of time. (11:26)

The secret of those films and why they have lasted so well is that you scream at the terror of them, but then you find yourself ridiculous for having screamed and you laugh at yourself, maybe that’s the clue to life.

• Unrestored US trailer with the most hilarious copy writing ever: 'The screen's foremost delineator of the Draculean!' (2:30)
• Reversible sleeve on the standard release, featuring artwork by Graham
• Booklet featuring Tim Lucas essay, Vincent Price autobiography extract, archive stills and posters.

The Fall of the House of UsherThe Fall of the House of Usher800__fall_house_usher_blu-ray_11_

The opening shot of Mark Damon riding towards the Usher mansion through a bleak, blackened wilderness of charred trees, ash and fog was achieved by Corman filming the sequence in the aftermath of a forest fire that had torched part of the Hollywood Hills just prior to filming.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

New Vincent Price Action Figure | House on Haunted Hill's Frederick Loren

From the same company that launched the Edward Lionheart action figure last year, comes a 12inch custom figure of Vincent Price as eccentric millionaire Frederick Loren in William Castle’s 1959 spookfest House on Haunted Hill in both a colour and black and white version. I’ve only ordered the colour one from Monsters in Motion because the UK’s VAT import tax is a real stinger, but Fred is going to feel right at home next to Lionel, Anton and Vinnie (from Executive Replicas).

Vincent Price 1928 European Travel Journal | Exploring Paris nightlife | 22&23 August

With the final stop in the Vincent Price 1928 European Travel Journal being Paris, Vincent and his group make the most of the city's nightlife - including a trip to the infamous Hell cafe in Pigalle. Read on by following the link by clicking on the photo above.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Vincent Price 1928 European Travel Journal | World War One battlefields and the wonders of the Louvre | 20&21 August

With only six more days left of the tour, latest post from the Vincent Price 1928 European Travel Journal finds Tour 22 exploring the World War One battlefields of France before heading into Paris to take in the wonders of the Louvre. Click on the photo above to read on…

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Vincent Price 1928 European Travel Journal | Rome - The Eternal City | 11&12 August

The Vincent Price 1928 European Travel Journal continues with Vincent entering the Eternal City - Rome. Read all about it on the blog by clicking on the picture above.

Arrow Video releases The Fall of the House of Usher on Blu-ray in the UK on 26 August

On 26 August 2013, Arrow Video releases the UK Blu-ray debut of Roger Corman’s 1960s American gothic horror classic The Fall of the House of Usher

The special features included are as follows:
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the feature, transferred and restored using the original film elements by MGM.
- Original uncompressed 2.0 Mono PCM Audio.
- Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing.
- Audio commentary with director and producer Roger Corman.
- Legend to Legend: An interview with director and former Corman apprentice Joe Dante.
- Interview with author and Gothic horror expert Jonathan Rigby.
- Fragments of the House of Usher: A Specially-commissioned video essay by critic and filmmaker David Cairns examining Corman’s film in relation to Poe’s story.
- Archival interview with Vincent Price.
- Original Trailer.
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham
Humphreys [Standard Release only].
- Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by author and critic Tim Lucas and an extract from Vincent Price’s long out of print autobiography, illustrated with original archive stills and posters.  

To celebrate the release, here's some fantastic stills to savour. Enjoy!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Vincent Price 1928 European Travel Journal | Skulls, Crossbones and Vesuvius | 7 July

The latest post from the Vincent Price 1928 European Travel Journal finds young Vincent Price travelling from Florence to Naples, via a church in Rome decorated in skulls. Read all about it on the blog by clicking on the picture above.

On this day in 1973 | Vincent Price starts filming Madhouse in London

Yes, it was on this day back in 1973 that Madhouse (aka The Revenge of Dr Death) began shooting, with Vincent Price and Peter Cushing finally sharing equal screen time as aging former horror star Paul Toombes and actor-turned-writer Herbert Flay, who unite to revive Toombes' screen character Dr Death for a TV series. But death stalks the corridors of the television studio in the form of a skull masked killer and several members of the show's cast and crew are murdered in grisly reenactments of Dr Death's greatest movie moments (as depicted in clips from some of Price's Poe/Corman films).

While the film in general is a bit of a letdown, the scenes between Price and Cushing are priceless as the two vets brilliantly play off each other leading to a big showdown when it transpires that Cushing is behind the killings. 

Here's some rare behind-the-scenes footage from a UK TV news report from the set back in 1973.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Monday, 5 August 2013