For the regular readers here at Mike’s Take, you know I love the works of my “friend” Vincent Price. Not just the films but the many other endeavors he took to. Not just his TV guest appearances as both himself or as a featured actor in everything from The Brady Bunch to Columbo but even his advertising campaigns for products in 30 second ads. The Hangman board game always comes to mind. His work for Roger Corman in the Poe cycle of films may very well be the titles he’s most remembered for as far as film fans are concerned. While you may love Preminger’s Laura or DeMille’s Ten Commandments, it’s that low budget director for AIP that gave us the film’s that Vincent is most associated with along with his earlier ventures into the cinema of scares like The House of Wax and The Tingler and the later ones like Dr. Phibes and Theater of Blood.
So here is a treasure trove of artwork that we can only hope Vincent would champion and quotes featuring the man who I would see on countless mornings eating my cereal and listening to him wax poetic……
Movies like these can also prove to be a driving force to youngsters as well to pick up a book and read. Seeing the Poe name above the titles spurred this youngster to nag his parents to get him a book of Poe tales. I’d like to think that’s a good thing even if the film’s had very little in common with the stories of Poe.
It’s fitting that his first Poe/Corman film is the one I believe was my introduction to the series of titles at an early age. Scared the hell out of me. All I could recall for years in between nightmares was the bloodstained corridors that Price was walking through by candlelight in search of his sister and his finding her in the terrifying finale. Now it’s time to imagine the voice inflections of Vincent Price poetry and read on.
“Yes… and even so I could hear you coming: every footstep, every rustle of your clothes. I could hear your horse approaching, hear the clatter of his hooves across the courtyard, your knock – the grating of the door bolt was like a sword-stroke to my ears… I can hear the scratch of rat claws in the stone walls! Mr. Winthrop, three-quarters of my family have fallen into madness, and in their madness have acquired a, a superhuman strength… so that it took the power of many to subdue them.” ……….. ” Did you know that I could hear the scratching of her fingernails on the casket lid? “
“Do you know where you are, Bartolome? I’ll tell you where you are. You are about to enter Hell, Bartolome, HELL!… The netherworld.The infernal region, The Abode of the Damned… The place of torment. Pandemonium. Abbadon. Tophet. Gehenna. Naraka. THE PIT!… And the pendulum. “
It’s while in the Pit that Price meets Steele.
“This is the beat of a human heart. Sit very still and listen. Is your heart beating in this same rhythm? You are experiencing the heartbeat of a dying man. And it is with death and dying that we concern ourselves. What happens at the point of death? What happens afterwards? What happens after death to someone who does not choose to stay dead, someone like Morella? “
“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, / Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore. / While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, / As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door./ “‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door. / Only this and nothing more.”
More Lovecraft than Poe? ” As surely as the village of Arkham has risen up against me, so shall I rise from the dead… against the village of Arkham. Each one of you! Ezra Weeden, Micah Smith, Benjamin West, Priam Willet, Gideon Leach, all of you and your children and your children’s children shall have just cause to regret the actions of this night. For from this night onward, you shall bear my curse.”
“If a god of love and life ever did exist… he is long since dead. Someone… something, rules in his place. “
“Christopher, not ten minutes ago I… I tried to kill a stray cat with a cabbage, and all but made love to the Lady Rowena. I succeeded in squashing the cabbage and badly frightening the lady. If only I could lay open my own brain as easily as I did that vegetable, what rot would be freed from its grey leaves? “
Note the Poe name is nowhere near as pronounced for this release……”Atlantis? Perhaps; a name is as good as another. “
“They swim… the mark of Satan is upon them. They must hang. “
” That mad dog that you all thought the product of sorcery is DEAD. Now drink, dance, and be merry. “
Along the way Vincent narrated Spirits of the Dead for the art house circuit and there was a TV special titled An Evening With Edgar Allan Poe that was broadcast in 1970 that saw him recite some of Poe’s tales with accompanying scenes filmed for the medium. If you’ve noticed, I left one title out. I do this in order to reach into the vault here at home and offer up an original one sheet from my personal collection. It’s the 1969 Poe inspired tale that saw fellow horror icon, Christopher Lee join in the fun with Price on the set of The Oblong Box.
Now go out and watch yourself one of these wonderful terrors featuring a man who always looked to be enjoying himself during each and every minute of each and every frame.