Sunday, 14 December 2014

Vincent Price in Six Gothic Tales Blu-Ray Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Richard Matheson (The Fall of the House of Usher / The Pit and the Pendulum / Tales of Terror / The Raven)
Charles Beaumont (The Haunted Palace)
Robert Towne (The Tomb of Ligeia)

Directed By
Roger Corman

Genre
Horror

Cast

Vincent Price as Roderick Usher (The Fall of the House of Usher), Nicholas Medina (Pit and the Pendulum), Locke, Fortunato Luchresi, Ernest Valdemar (Tales of Terror), Dr. Erasmus Craven (The Raven), Charles Dexter Ward, Joseph Curwen (The Haunted Palace), Verden Fell (The Tomb of Ligeia)
Mark Damon as Philip Winthrop (The Fall of the House of Usher)
Myrna Fahey as Madeline Usher (The Fall of the House of Usher)
John Kerr as Francis Barnard (Pit and the Pendulum)
Barbara Steele as Elizabeth Barnard Medina (Pit and the Pendulum)
Peter Lorre as Montresor (Tales of Terror), Dr. Adolphus Bedlo (The Raven)
Basil Rathbone as Carmichael (Tales of Terror)
Boris Karloff as Dr. Scarabus (The Raven)
Jack Nicholson as Rexford Bedlo (The Raven)
Debra Paget as Helena (Tales of Terror), Ann Ward (The Haunted Palace)
Lon Chaney Jr. as Simon Orne (The Haunted Palace)

Year Released
1960 (The Fall of the House of Usher)
1961 (Pit and the Pendulum)
1962 (Tales of Terror)
1963 (The Raven), (The Haunted Palace)
1964 (The Tomb of Ligeia)

Certificate
12

Synopsis

From the Merchant of Menace, Vincent Price, and the King of the Bs, Roger Corman, come six Gothic tales inspired by the pen of Edgar Allan Poe.

In The Fall of the House of Usher, a young man learns of a family curse that threatens his happiness with his bride-to-be. In Pit and the Pendulum, a brother investigates the untimely death of sister, played by Barbara Steele. Tales of Terror adapts three Poe classics, Morella, The Black Cat and The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, each starring a horror icon. The Raven is a comic take on the famous poem concerning three rival magicians. In The Haunted Palace, a newcomer in a New England town is suspected of being a warlock. And in The Tomb of Ligeia, filmed in Norfolk and at Stonehenge, a widower’s upcoming marriage plans are thwarted by his dead first wife.

The six films boast a remarkable cast list: not just Price and Steele (Black Sunday), but also Boris Karloff (Frankenstein), Peter Lorre (M, The Beast with Five Fingers), Lon Chaney Jr (The Wolf Man, Spider Baby), Basil Rathbone (The Black Cat) and a very young Jack Nicholson. Adapted for the screen by Richard Matheson (The Twilight Zone, I Am Legend) and Robert Towne (Chinatown), these Six Gothic Tales now rank as classic examples of sixties horror cinema.

Special Features

The Fall of the House of Usher
  • Audio commentary with director and producer Roger Corman
  • Legend to Legend: An interview with director and former Corman apprentice Joe Dante
  • Interview with author and Gothic horror expert Jonathan Rigby
  • Fragments of the House of Usher: A Specially-commissioned video essay by critic and filmmaker David Cairns examining Corman’s film in relation to Poe’s story
  • Archival interview with Vincent Price
  • Original Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys

Pit and the Pendulum
  • Audio commentary with director and producer Roger Corman
  • Audio commentary by critic Tim Lucas
  • Behind the Swinging Blade – A new documentary on the making of The Pit and the Pendulum featuring Roger Corman, star Barbara Steele, Vincent Price’s daughter Victoria Price and more!
  • Added TV Sequence – Shot in 1968 to pad out the film for the longer TV time slot, this scene features star Luana Anders
  • An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe with Vincent Price [52 mins] – Price reads a selection of Poe’s classic stories before a live audience, including The Tell-Tale Heart, The Sphinx, The Cask of Amontillado and The Pit and the Pendulum (with optional English SDH)
  • Original Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx

Tales of Terror
  • The Directors: Roger Corman, an hour-long documentary on the filmmaker featuring contributions from James Cameron, Martin Scorsese and Ron Howard
  • Cats in Horror Films, critic and novelist Anne Billson discusses the contributions of our feline friends to genre cinema
  • The Black Cat, a 1993 short film adaptation of Poe’s classic tale directed by Rob Green (The Bunker)
  • Kim Newman on Edgar Allan Poe, the novelist and critic looks at Poe’s influence on the big screen
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dan Mumford

The Raven
  • Peter Lorre: The Double Face, Harun Farocki’s 1984 documentary, subtitled in English for the first time
  • Richard Matheson: Storyteller, an interview with the legendary novelist and screenwriter
  • Corman’s Comedy of Poe, an interview with Roger Corman about making The Raven
  • The Trick, a short film about rival magicians by Rob Green (The Bunker)
  • Promotional Record
  • Stills and Poster Gallery
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Vladimir Zimakov

The Haunted Palace
  •  Audio commentary by Vincent Price’s biographer David Del Valle and Ron Chaney, grandson of Lon Chaney, Jr
  • Kim Newman on H.P. Lovecraft, a look at the relationship between Lovecraft and the cinema, and the challenges of adapting his work
  • A Change of Poe, an interview with Roger Corman
  • Stills and Poster Gallery
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin

The Tomb of Ligeia
  • Audio commentary by director and producer Roger Corman
  • Audio commentary by star Elizabeth Shepherd
  • All-new interviews with cast and crew members including co-writer/production assistant Paul Mayersberg, first assistant director David Tringham, camera assistant Bob Jordan and composer Kenneth V. Jones
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil
  •   Limited edition 200-page collector’s book containing new writing on all films, an interview with Roger Corman, extracts from Vincent Price’s autobiography and full reproductions of tie-in comic books for Tales of Terror, The Raven and The Tomb of Ligeia originally published in the sixties.

Review

Arrow Films is renowned for their reissues of classic movies and here they have presented us with a limited edition collection of six Roger Corman classics all revolving around the classic words penned by Edgar Allan Poe.

With each of their classic movies seemingly getting better and better with each release, I was wondering just how they would match or even top their previous releases.

Here, not only do they top them, they release one of the best reissues sets that I have seen released by anyone not just Arrow Films.

We have a collection of six movies here that really run the whole gauntlet of the different styles that Corman is so famous for.  Yes you can see the slightly lower budgets in some of them and even the reuse of a set piece or two but that was always one of Corman's strengths.  The man certainly knew how to use a budget to his favor and these movies all tie that together brilliantly.

Cast wise, it's a veritable who's who of the Hollywood world.  You have the legendary Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre and more but you also have the superb Jack Nicholson in an early role as well.  Don't let that make you think the rest of the casts aren't important because they more than hold up their own against the powerhouses of the lead characters.

As well as the brilliant movies here, it's the special features that really make the set an absolutely essential purchase for fans.  The special features here are a treasure trove with so many gems unearthed for not only the Corman and Vincent Price fans out there but also to fans of good movies full stop.  I would even go so far as to say that the things that we are given here are some of the best special features that I have seen Arrow Movies release and when you consider that their past ones have been some of the best movies that cinema has seen, that is high praise.

Movies 9/10
Picture 9/10
Sound 9/10
Special Features 10/10
Overall 37/40