October, 27, 2015 – It’s that time of year.
For Halloween, serve up twice the horror: a double feature of Edgar Allan Poe and Vincent Price.
Poe was undoubtedly the master of the macabre, having written dozens of classic horror stories before horror was even a genre. Although they were written in the first half of the nineteenth century, Poe’s stories mystify, frighten and disturb us today.
And who could better embody the world of Edgar Allan Poe than one of film’s most frightening actors: Vincent Price. Price would star in his first horror film, The Tower of London, in 1939. He would return to the genre throughout his career, until well into the 1970’s. Known in real life to have been an educated gentleman, he was the personification of evil, madness and horror for most of his prolific acting career.
One of Poe’s most acclaimed (and frightening) stories is The Pit and the Pendulum, set in part during the Spanish Inquisition. In the film, Price plays Nicholas Medina, whose wife has died in suspicious circumstances. His brother-in-law (John Kerr), visits to try to learn what happened to his sister and comes to feel that Medina may have gone mad after witnessing his father, an agent of the Spanish Inquisition (and also played by Vincent Price), torture people — including Nicholas’ mother — in the castle’s torture chamber.
Stephen King considers the final scenes of the film to be among the most significant in post 1960s horror films.
In Tales of terror, Vincent Price plays three roles from three of Poe’s short stories. In Morella, he is a man who blames his child for the death of his wife and send her away. She returns 26 years later and takes revenge on the demented man who cast her out. In The Black Cat, a man (played by Peter Lorre) realizes that he is being cuckolded and buries his wife and her lover (Price) alive. In The Case of M. Valdemar, Price plays Valdemar, a man put into a state of suspended animation by a hypnotist (played by Basil Rathbone) who covets Valdemar’s wife.
Watch The Pit and the Pendulum and Tales of Terror at FilmRise.