For the best of the Horror/Cult/Exploitation film experience
Tales of Terror (1962)
As part of the recent Vincent Price
Collection Fox Home Entertainment has re-released director Roger
Corman's Poe anthology "Tales of Terror" to DVD. Corman is well known
for his "Poe" films from "The Pit and the Pendulum", "House of Usher",
and "The Tomb of Ligeia". So it was only fitting that "Tales of
Terror" which is an excellent vehicle of Vincent Price's to be included
in the set.
All three of the stories are adapted from works of writer
Edgar Allen Poe. All of them featuring Vincent Price as well as actors
like Basil Rathbone, and Peter Lorre. The stories that are adapted are
"Morella", "The Black Cat", and "The (Facts in the) Case of M.
Valdemar" which happen to be loose representations of the actual Poe
The first story is called "Morella" and is about a women who
travels to see her father, who hasn't been apart of her life for twenty
six years. When she visits him she finds out about her mother who died
just months after giving birth to her. This one is more ghost story
than anything else and although a bit flat still shows Vincent Price as
a great character in Locke. It's a tragic story at it's base although
it's not really given the appropriate time to get where it needs to
go. The story was adapted to screenplay by the great Richard Matheson
so I was expecting a bit more from that alone. The set design on this
one is excellent and shows just how well Corman was with working in a
limited budget situation. Although it's not bad, it's easily the worst
out of the three stories in the film.
Second up we have my personal favorite entry into "Tales of
Terror" which is the Corman/Matheson adaptation of Poe's "The Black
Cat". It stars Peter Lorre who puts on a very memorable performance as
Montresor Herringbone, a local drunk who cares more about his booze
than he does his own wife. But the real reason to watch this one is
for Vincent Price playing Fortunato the wine taster. He's extremely
funny in the role as it's written more comedic for him and he is
hamming it up big time. It's like Price knew that Lorre was going to
put out a great performance, so it had to turn it up a notch. Not only
that but this is one of the most unique adaptations of "The Black Cat"
as it's easily the most comedic one I've seen. Apparently there were
quite a large amount of restrictions that Hollywood studios were
imposing at the time, so they went away from the originally more dark
story of Poe's. Either way, it works out wonderfully and might have
been my favorite adaptation of the famous story that I've seen.
Finally we have The Case of M. Valdemar starring Price as Mr.
Valdemar himself and Basil Rathbone here as the scumbag Carmichael
character. It's a creepy little story with a nice Zombie twist to it
that is the closest to the source than any of the other versions here
in the film. Valdemar was interested in using hypnosis as a way to
counter the effects of death only to have an evil, power hungry
Carmichael take his power and run with it to get what he wants out of
life, which happens to be Valdemar's wife.
Personally I thought that this was a rather enjoyable
anthology of Poe stories that really mesh well together. It was also
great to see Vincent Price step it up and play three different
characters in all three stories. Also with Peter Lorre and Basil
Rathbone added in there was some pretty good acting throughout the
movie. All of that mixed in with Corman's low budget charm and the
fact that all of the stories were pretty solid I would say that this
has to be a welcome addition to the Vincent Price Collection. HIGHLY
Rating - ***