Countdown to Halloween Day 31 – House of Wax (1953)

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Countdown to Halloween Day 31 – House of Wax (1953)
Cast:        Vincent Price as Professor Henry Jarrod
Phyllis Kirk as Sue Allen
Frank Lovejoy as Detective Tom Brennan
Paul Picerni as Scott Andrews
Carolyn Jones as Cathy Gray
Dabbs Greer as Sgt. Jim Shane
Charles Bronson (billed as Charles Buchinsky) as Igor

Story by Charles Belden
Screenplay by Crane Wilbur
Directed by Andre De Toth

Release Date: April 25, 1953

Plot: When his max museum is burned down, creator Professor Henry Jarrod survives to once again open a new museum. But where does he find the lifelike bodies?

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Richard’s Review: Having just watched Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) a few months ago, it was interesting to watch House of Wax and do some compare and contrasting. Personally, I prefer Price over Lionel Atwill but there was less mystery here as to who was the scarred man. I kind of missed the reporter role but the vivid colors here are spectacular. But I could have done without the somewhat annoying barker segment, placed to utilize the 3D effects. Beautifully filmed, this is truly one of Vincent Price’s masterpieces. Highly recommended!

Karla’s Thoughts: I loved House of Wax as Vincent Price was awesome in one of his best roles. The colors were amazing. It is definitely different at times from the original, such as in the prolonged opening sequence and the lack of the reporter role. The lead actress here had so much more to do than Fay Wray in the original because of the way the story revolved around her more. I would definitely watch this one again.

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Trivia:

  • Andre De Toth was actually blind in one eye, made all the more interesting considering this movie was made in 3D.
  • Vincent Price was nearly burned when the wax museum fire scene got out of control.
  • Phyllis Kirk is well-known actress for her television roles in such shows as The Twilight Zone, Suspense and Tales of Tomorrow.
  • Frank Lovejoy usually played hard-edged or detective-type roles in films, such as Brub Nicolai opposite Humphrey Bogart in the film In a Lonely Place (1950).
  • Carolyn Jones is best remembered for playing Morticia Addams in The Addams Family. She also starred as Marsha, Queen of Diamonds on Batman in the 60s.
  • Paul Percini had a long-running career with over 200 credits on screen and television, including roles in Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Zorro, The Time Tunnel and Batman.
  • Dabbs Greer is better remembered Reverend Alden in Little House on the Prairie but also starred in Science Fiction Theatre, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).
  • Charles Bronson worked with Vincent Price again in Master of the World (1961) but is best remembered for his Death Wish film series and other film roles, such as The Magnificent Seven (1960) and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968).
  • Bela Lugosi appeared at the film premiere wearing a vampire cape and with a man in a gorilla suit on chain.

Availability: House of Wax is available on Blu-ray from Warner Brothers, which also includes Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933).

Countdown to Halloween Day 30 – Masque of the Red Death (1964)

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Countdown to Halloween Day 30 – Masque of the Red Death (1964)
Cast:        Vincent Price as Prince Prospero
Hazel Court as Juliana
Jane Asher as Francesca
David Weston as Gino
Nigel Green as Ludovico
Patrick Magee as Alfredo
Skip Martin as Hop Toad
Verina Greenlaw as Esmerelda
John Westbrook as The Man in Red

Based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe
Screenplay by Charles Beaumont & R. Wright Campbell
Directed by Roger Corman

Release Date: June 24, 1964

Plot: When Prince Prospero discovers the Red Death has arrived in a nearby village, he takes the lovely Francesca to his castle where he and his guests worship Satan and partake in sins of the flesh. However, the mysterious Man in Red has other plans.

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Richard’s Review: I absolutely love this film and it’s one of my favorites of Vincent Price. He is so deliciously evil as Prince Prospero. The cast of oddball characters surrounding him are entertaining, especially Hop Toad, whose mannerisms and dialogue made me think of Tyrian from Game of Thrones. However, I have to say I was a little disturbed by Esmerelda being played by a young girl as Alfredo stared at her in lust. Aside from that odd moment, the movie is dark and wicked…and I love it.

Karla’s Thoughts: Vincent Price was amazing and flawless but I really hated to see him play such an evil role. The story was good but a little too dark for me at times. The senseless deaths, such as killing the villagers, and taking pleasure from watching others suffer, was a little hard to watch. This is a really good movie but I’d probably not watch again because it was too dark.

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Trivia:

  • Each of the men in various colors at the end of the film are meant to represent a different form of death, such as gold for leprosy and black for the black death.
  • Corman had originally wanted this to be his second Poe flick but decided to wait as he felt elements of the film were similar to The Seventh Seal (1957).
  • Two miles of corridors were constructed to enhance the visual scope of Prospero’s castle.
  • Hazel Court starred in numerous genre films, including The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) with Peter Cushing and The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959), both starring Christopher Lee. She also worked with Vincent Price and Boris Karloff in The Raven (1963).
  • Jane Asher brought a random friend to the set one day and introduced him to Roger Corman, who did not know who he was. The next day, he read that the young man was Paul McCartney.
  • David Weston also starred in Witchcraft (1964) as well as episodes of UFO and The Tomorrow People, as well as seven episodes of Doctor Who.
  • Nigel Green also starred in Corridors of Blood (1958) with Boris Karloff, Jason and the Argonauts (1963), The Skull (1965) with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and Countess Dracula (1971).
  • Patrick Magee also appeared in Dementia 13 (1963), The Skull (1965) and Die, Monster, Die (1965) with Boris Karloff.
  • Skip Martin also starred in Corridors of Blood (1958), Vampire Circus (1972) and Son of Dracula (1973).
  • Verina Greenlaw was only 8 years old but was supposed to be playing an adult woman. Her role was voiced by an unknown adult actress.
  • John Westbrook also starred in The Tomb of Ligeia (1964) and appeared in numerous British television series including Blake’s 7.

Availability: Masque of the Red Death was available on Blu-ray as part of The Vincent Price Collection I. However, unless you already have it in your collection or have a spare $400 lying around, your better bet is to find the out-of-print Midnite Movies DVD but be patient as you shop around for the best price (pun intended).

Countdown to Halloween Day 29 – Tomb of Ligeia (1964)

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Countdown to Halloween Day 29 – Tomb of Ligeia (1964)
Cast:        Vincent Price as Verden Fell
Elizabeth Shepherd as The Lady Rowena Trevanion/The Lady Ligeia
John Westbrook as Christopher Gough

Based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe
Screenplay by Robert Towne
Directed by Roger Corman

Release Date: January 20, 1965

Plot: Verden Fell buries his wife Ligeia and becomes a recluse until he meets the lovely Rowena. Upon marrying her, old memories and a promise from his late wife that she’d never die continues to haunt him.

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Richard’s Review: The location shots make this the brightest and perhaps most real-world of all of Roger Cormen’s Poe flicks. Price is great as always and while Elizabeth Shepherd seemed closer in age to Price than some of his other co-stars, I personally don’t think they had the chemistry needed to convincingly pull off the romantic angle. However, the good script, despite its’ odd plot contrivances, works to tell an entertaining story. It’s definitely a fun and atmospheric movie for the Halloween season.

Karla’s Thoughts: I really liked The Tomb of Ligeia but sad that it didn’t have that happy ending of them being together. Price was great and I really liked Elizabeth Shepherd . I loved the exterior shots but struggled with the lack of accurate science. It was also weird that they randomly pulled Egyptian lore into it, along with a lot of other seemingly random supernatural elements. But, I did enjoy it overall and I would definitely watch it again.

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Trivia:

  • Roger Corman considers this the biggest of his Poe films due to the location shooting at Castle Acre Priory, which nearly doubled his usual filming schedule of 15 days. It would be the last of his Poe adaptations despite American International Pictures wanting him to continue.
  • The wedding scene with Verden and Rowena took place in the 900-year old Church of St. John.
  • This was Robert Towne’s second motion picture, following The Last Woman on Earth (1960). Other credits include The Outer Limits and the first two Mission: Impossible films.
  • Elizabeth Shepherd appeared in numerous British television series but genre fans may also remember her from Damien: Omen II (1978).
  • Elizabeth Shepherd loved working with Vincent Price, stating “he made everything seem easy” and that he had a “wickedly witty sense of humor” off screen according to an interview in Scarlet Street in the summer of 1992.
  • John Westbrook also had an uncredited role in The Masque of the Red Death (1964) and appeared in numerous British television series including Blake’s 7.

Availability: Tomb of Ligeia is available on Blu-ray as part of The Vincent Price Collection II.

Countdown to Halloween Day 27 – Escapes (1986)

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On episode 634 of the Dread Media Podcast, I walk into dangerous territory with one of Vincent Price’s hardest to find films, Escapes (1986)! This film is practically lost and, honestly, it should be. Don’t say you haven’t been warned!

After recording this segment, I did discover that Escapes has been released on Blu-ray as an extra on the Dark Harvest (1992) release. Or you could just watch it for free on YouTube.

As always, tell ’em Monster Movie Kid sent ya!

Countdown to Halloween Day 26 – The Monster Club (1981)

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Countdown to Halloween Day 26 – The Monster Club (1981)
Cast:        Vincent Price as Eramus
John Carradine as R. Chetwynd-Hayes
Barbara Kellerman as Angela
Simon Ward as George
Donald Pleasance as Pickering
Britt Ekland as Mother
Stuart Whitman as Sam

Based on the novel by R. Chetwynd-Hayes
Screenplay by Edward & Valerie Abraham
Directed by Roy Ward Baker

Release Date: May 27, 1981

Plot: Author R. Chetwynd-Hayes is invited to a special club where weird music plays and three tales unfold.

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Richard’s Review: This movie seems very out-of-place for 1981 as the simplicity would have worked better in the 60s or 70s. The 80s flavored rock music is an obvious attempt to appeal to a then modern audience that might have considered the film old fashioned, which it really was by 1981 standards. That said, its’ quirkiness adds to its’ charm and I enjoy this one a little more with each viewing. Price outshines John Carradine at every turn in a rather interesting framing story. The second story seems a little out of place as it’s more comical while the final segment is quite creepy indeed. Not a classic but definitely worth checking it.

Karla’s Thoughts: This isn’t a horrible movie and I liked Vincent Price as usual. However, the weird 80s rock music and obviously fake monsters make the club sequences very odd at best. As an anthology, it’s well-written with the last story being the creepiest and the vampire story the weakest. It was fun to watch and I’d probably watch it again if it popped up on TV.

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Trivia:

  • Director Roy Ward Baker also worked on numerous genre films, including The Vampire Lovers (1970), Scars of Dracula (1970) and Asylum (1972).
  • Writer R. Chetwynd-Hayes had previously written stories that were adapted for Night Gallery and From Beyond the Grave (1974).
  • John Carradine had 351 acting credits, including one of his first roles in The Invisible Man (1933). He also played Count Dracula five times (House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, Matinee Theatre, Billy the Kid Versus Dracula and Nocturna) and Dr. Frankenstein (Frankenstein Island). He worked alongside Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and, of course, Vincent Price.
  • This marked the only film in which Vincent Price played a vampire.
  • Barbara Kellerman also worked with Vincent Price in The Oblong Box (1969).
  • Simon Ward appeared in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), Dracula (1974) and Supergirl (1984).
  • Donald Pleasance is best remembered for his role of Dr. Loomis in five of the Halloween films, as well as countless other genre roles in such films as Escape from New York (1981), Prince of Darkness (1987), Fantastic Voyage (1966) and as Blofeld in You Only Live Twice (1967) opposite Sean Connery’s James Bond.
  • Britt Ekland is best remembered for her role in The Wicker Man (1973) as well as in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), both starring Christopher Lee.
  • Stuart Whitman might want to forget his other horror film, Night of the Lepus (1972).

Availability: The Monster Club is available on Blu-ray from Ronin Flix.

Countdown to Halloween Day 25 – Madhouse (1974)

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Countdown to Halloween Day 25 – Madhouse (1974)
Cast:        Vincent Price as Paul Toombes
Peter Cushing as Herbert Flay
Robert Quarry as Oliver Quayle
Adrienne Corri as Faye Carstairs Flay
Special Participation by Boris Karloff & Basil Rathbone

Based on the novel by Angus Hall
Screenplay by Ken Levison & Greg Morrison
Directed by Jim Clark

Release Date: May 24, 1974

Plot: Paul Toombes has played the character of Dr. Death on-screen for years but suffers a nervous breakdown after finding the murdered body of his fiancée. After years in an institution, he returns to once again play the role but when cast and crew begin to die, he questions his sanity as all leads point to him.

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Richard’s Review: I’ve warmed up to this one a little more over the years. Price is fun but I don’t think he’s up to his usual standards. It was fun to see him and Peter Cushing finally work together but it was sad to see them on opposite sides. I loved seeing the various old clips interspersed throughout the film. However, I didn’t care for the character of Faye Flay. Sorry, not a big fan of spiders. I’d definitely watch this one again but it isn’t one of my personal favorites.

Karla’s Thoughts: I really enjoyed Madhouse but it was kind of sad to see Peter Cushing play the villain. I really wanted to see him and Vincent Price work together not against each other. Price was great as usual. The young girls’ guardians at the beginning of the film seemed a little odd and out of place and there was an odd lack of police presence throughout the film. Not a great film but still fun. I wouldn’t seek it out but would definitely watch it if it popped up on TV.

Trivia:

  • This was the final film Price made for American International Pictures, ending a 14-year working partnership.
  • This was the third of four films Peter Cushing and Vincent Price worked together on but it was only the first time they actually appeared together on screen at the same time.
  • Scenes from Pit and the Pendulum (1961) and The Haunted Palace (1963) are incorporated into the film, as well as The Raven (1963) and Tales of Terror (1962).
  • This was the last of Jim Clark’s eight films as a director.
  • Robert Quarry actually wears his costume from Count Yorga, Vampire (1970), a film role he is best remembered for alongside his appearance in Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972).
  • Peter Cushing dresses as Count Dracula at a costume party as an in-joke to his several Dracula films where he played Van Helsing.
  • Vincent Price sings the song playing over the final credits.
  • Adrienne Corri worked with Boris Karloff in Col. March of Scotland Yard (1956).

Availability: Madhouse is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.