Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Vincent Price festival announced

A first-time festival dedicated to horror film legend Vincent Price will be staged in London this November, headed by the late actor’s daughter Victoria Price and award-winning Vincent Price blogger and expert, Peter Fuller.

Price, who starred in over 100 films, including such cult classics as The Abominable Dr Phibes and Theatre of Blood, was a lifelong Anglophile, a noted art lover, collector and lecturer, and a self-confessed foodie.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of his acclaimed cookbook, A Treasury of Great Recipes, Victoria and award-winning Vincent Price blogger Peter Fuller, will be hosting series of events in and around London commemorating Price’s love of art and food, while also paying tribute to some of his most iconic screen roles that were made in the UK.

Among the events planned are tours to the original locations used in the classic horror films Witchfinder General, Cry of the Banshee and Theatre of Blood; a multi-media remembrance by Victoria Price; a musical performance of the cult sci-fi The Last Man on Earth; and a special breakfast tour of Harrods Food Halls to mark the UK launch of A Treasury of Great Recipes. Plus, they’ll be a special Vincent Price-themed foodie event held in the capital.

For more information, including how to buy tickets: check out the website:

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Percy's Progress (1974) | The British sex comedy rises again on Blu-ray!

What do you get when you mix Master of Menace, Vincent Price, some Hammer Glamour screen sirens, Edna Everage and a handful of famous British comedy stars? The 1974 sex comedy Percy’s Progress – that’s what! To celebrate its UK high-definition restoration release (Monday 13 April), here’s a look back at the very 1970s oddity.

With a bounty of Bollinger 1969 stored onboard his yacht, Percy Edward Anthony (Leigh Lawson) takes to the high seas to escape his notoriety as the well-endowed recipient of the world’s first penis transplant.

But when the entire male population becomes impotent after the US-made PX-123 drug accidentally gets into the water supply, Percy becomes the British Government’s secret weapon in reversing the world’s falling birth rate.

After ‘servicing’ the representatives of several countries in the Miss Conception International contest, Percy decides he’s done his patriotic duty and goes back into hiding – which doesn’t go down well with his advisors or the bevy of beautiful birds who only want a favour most men would be happy to oblige…

This 1974 British sex comedy was director Ralph Thomas and producer Betty E Box’s sequel to their box-office hit Percy, based on Raymond Hitchcock’s 1969 debut novel, with Leigh Lawson packing into Hywel Bennett’s briefs as the sexed-up anti-hero with a rather enviable manhood.

Drawing on themes originally exploited in the 1933 sci-fi musical comedy, It’s Great to Be Alive (a remake of the 1924 silent, The Last Man on Earth), and in the 1946 Pat Frank novel, Mr Adam, Percy’s Progress comes off like a poor-man’s Carry On. It should have been a saucy seaside postcard delight, but it’s not. Director Thomas, who was responsible for the ar superior Doctor series of comedy films, and Up Pompeii! writer Sid Colin have merely served up a series of flaccid, vulgar jokes about impotence.

Getting into bed with Lawson (who famously wedded both Hayley Mills and model Twiggy), are some well-known Hammer glamour stars, including Jenny Hanley, Madeline Smith, Julie Edge and Judy Matheson. But it’s the roll call of famous names that’s the real reason to check this oddity out. Among the embarrassed faces on display in the messy farce are Elke Sommer, Milo O’Shea, Denholm Elliott, Bernard Lee, Anthony Andrews, Ronald Fraser, Alan Lake and Anthony Sharp.

As the Aristotle Onassis-styled tycoon Stavos Mammonian, Vincent Price is confined to a wheelchair (the last time he did that was in 1953’s House of Wax); while Harry H Corbett (who wrote some of the dialogue, along with comedy legend Ian La Frenais) gets in an hilarious Harold Wilson impersonation (albeit with a Yorkshire accent) as the British PM.

Following his multiple roles in the crude but entertaining Barry McKenzie movies, Barry Humphries takes on the dual role of scientist Dr Anderson (sporting a great whistling speech pediment) and an ‘Australian TV lady’ who bears an uncanny resemblance to his Moonee Ponds housewife, Edna Everage. Judy Geeson, meanwhile, has a very odd role as Dr Anderson's overly cheery assistant who become instrumental in reversing the drug's sterility factor.

Interestingly, author Raymond Hitchcock ended up publishing a novel based on Sid Colin’s screenplay, while the film’s theme tune ‘God Knows I Miss You’ was co-written by The Seekers’ Keith Potger and Tony Macaulay, who had a string of hits for the likes of Long John Baldry and The Hollies.

EMI Films originally released the film in the UK in August 1974, but it took another two years before a US distribution was announced. Retitled, It’s Not the Size That Counts, trimmed by 90-minutes, and with additional scenes of a penis transplant and a dwarf (played by one-time Ewok, Luis De Jesus) tacked on, the film was eventually released Stateside in November 1978. You can watch a US TV trailer below.

Released as part of Network's British Film collection, Percy’s Progress gets a brand-new high definition transfer from the original film elements, in its original aspect ratio, and in both Blu-ray and DVD formats. The special features include original theatrical trailers, image gallery and promotional material (pdf).





Monday, 18 May 2015

Twice-Told Tales (1963) | The vintage Vincent Price horror anthology gets a bare bones UK DVD release

Out this week from Final Cut Entertainment in the UK is the DVD re-release of director Sidney Salkow's 1963 horror anthology Twice-Told Tales, based on the stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne, and each starring Vincent Price.  

Dr Heidegger's Experiment tells the tale of an elderly physician who develops an elixir of life, and uses it to resurrect the woman he was to have married; Rappaccini's Daughter finds a botanist, who has been deserted by his wife, turning his daughter into a poisonous creature whom no one can touch; and The House of the Seven Gables concerns newlywed Gerald Pyncheon scouring his cursed ancestral home for a hidden fortune.

No preview copies were available to check out the quality of the print, while there are no extras to speak of.

Monday, 4 May 2015

The Eve of St Mark (1944) | This World War Two drama made Vincent Price proud

The Eve of St Mark was a 1944 World War Two drama based on a successful 1942 Broadway play by Maxwell Anderson which followed a group of American soldiers undergoing training before heading for combat duty an island in the Philippines, where they come under heavy attack by Japanese forces.

Directed by John M Stahl (who also lensed Keys of the Kingdom and Leave Her To Heaven before his death from a heart attack in 1950) and based on a screenplay by George Seaton, who supplied a morale-boosting new ending, The Eve of St Mark gave Vincent Price one of the best roles of his career.

As soft-speaking southerner, Private Marion, Price brought humanity, humility and an air of cultured refinement to the character, who spouts lines from Shelley, Shakespeare and Keats to woo girls and amuse his fellow conscripts. He also has a weakness for Cuba Libras. Stricken down with malaria in the second half of the drama, while the battle rages outside a cave in which his patrol is holed up in, Price's cynic ends up delivering a heart-moving speech which inspires his pals to 'stick it out another day'.

Price’s character was based on former soldier turned novelist/screenwriter, Marion Hargrove, whose 1942 light-hearted memoirs See Here, Private Hargrove, spent 15 weeks on top of the New York Times bestseller list, Two movies were also adapted, in 1944 and 1945, with Robert Walker in the lead, while a pilot for a TV series was produced in 1965.

Coming three years after Pearl Harbor, the film was regarded as rather dated by critics, with The New York Times calling it ‘brashly theatrical’, but the heroism of embodied by the characters was anything but. Price, who regarded the role as one of his proudest achievements, got some super reviews, with many tipping him as a promising star. Five months after this film's release, Price would appear as another southern gent, although one with less morality, that of playboy peacock Shelby Carpenter in Laura.

'Marion could be cynical, with his pathetically ridiculous quotations, but there was a funny honestly about the guy that I enjoyed'.

Here's a condensed version of the movie, in three parts, featuring Price's scenes as Private Marion.