Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released on June 22, 1960
Directed by Roger Corman
Written by Richard Matheson, based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe
Cast: Vincent Price, Mark Damon, Myrna Fahey, Harry Ellerbe, and as the uncredited ghosts: Bill Borzage, Eleanor LeFabre, John Zimeas, Nadajan, Ruth Oklander, Mike Jordan, David Andar, George Paul, Geraldine Paulette, Phil Sulvestre
Also released to theaters with the title The Fall of the House of Usher (and trust me, it fell!), this uneventful Gothic horror melodrama seemed to begin well ahead of the story at hand, as if I’d come in a reel or two late, and opened with a man arriving at the eerie House of Usher, a lonely mansion in the middle of fog-shrouded nowhere, who meets up with his fiancé and soon finds himself having to contend with her brother Roderick Usher (played winningly by Vincent Price), who opposes the marriage, and plans to do something about it.
Based on a story by Edgar Allen Poe, and the first of several Poe tales filmed by Roger Corman in the 1960s, I found this entry to be too proper, stuffy, and serious for my tastes, with a dearth of chills and shocks in both Corman’s direction and the script by Richard Matheson, whose short stories and contributions to The Twilight Zone I’ve always been a fan of. Perhaps if Matheson had delivered his usual touches to the script, and had fudged a little with Poe’s story, I might’ve been more entertained.
Admittedly, there was plenty of atmosphere, and some strange goings-on involving death and burial, but judging by either title, I’d always assumed the end result would be a little more sinister than it was. In fact, probably the biggest heart-stopping shock came from seeing Price sporting a headful of wavy, platinum blond hair! Beyond that, I can’t say there was much going on worth staying up for. Or caring about, for that matter.
However, I must be missing something, because everywhere I’ve looked this production has received high marks; maybe it was the Gothic aspect of the presentation, or the plain fact it was dry as a bone, that so quickly had my eyes rolling up in their sockets and my thoughts drifting elsewhere. If you’re a fan of such proceedings, then please give it a go…but when you conk out on the couch and your date storms off in a huff, don’t say I didn’t warn you. (4/10)