Friday, August 29, 2008

Very little hope, I assure you

The seven movies Roger Corman made from Edgar Allan Poe stories in the 1960's feel like variations of the same universal Poe story. Most have the same haunted mansion visual style, most star Vincent Price as the victim of neurotic obsessions, and premature burials and stern siblings abound. The plots are different from the stories, but the mood and the themes are as close to Poe as you'll get. House of Usher (1960) is the first and one of the best. Definitely the spookiest, with its wonderful ghostly dream sequence. Pit and the Pendulum (1961) is another good one. Vincent Price swoons a lot, which doesn't seem quite right. Premature Burial (1962) probably should have starred Vincent Price, but it does have a lot of premature burials. Tales of Terror (1963) is a bit cheesy. The Raven (1963) is a .. comedy. Yes, they turned Poe's great poem into camp. I gave up when the raven began to wisecrack like a Disney sidekick. Tomb of Ligeia (1964) is different and interesting. No, the word I'm looking for is 'bad', but it's a pity, because there's something unique here.

My favourite is The Masque of the Red Death (1964), which stands apart with its sadism, decadence and Satan-worship, and for once a truly evil Vincent Price. Just brilliant, I love it. Its dialogue was sampled beautifully by Theatre of Tragedy, listen and admire, (it's 3:55 in, I always wondered where that was from):



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