Tales of Terror (1962) | blu-ray release

December 20th, 2015
Author: Meredith Taylor

Director: Roger Corman  Writer: Richard Matheson

Cast: Vincent Price, Maggie Pierce, Leona Gage, Peter Lorre, Joyce Jameson, Basil Rathbone, Debra Paget

89min   US   Horror

Roger Corman is well known for his contribution to American independent cinema. Innovation is born out of conflict and hard times and Corman knew both in his life having grown up during the Great Depression. Thrift was his watchword and after a brief career at 20th Century Fox, he began with a debut feature Monster from the Ocean Floor (195 . Filming and producing his auteurish fare on a shoe-string budget, he always delivered on time and garnered critical acclaim from the members of the Nouvelle Vague and Cahiers du cinema: he was the youngest director to have retrospectives in London, Paris and New York and was awarded an Honorary Academy Award in 2009.

But he didn’t only feather his own cap: Martin Scorsese, Jonathan and Francis Ford Coppola all benefitted from his wisdom and experience until he became a distributer in his own production company New World Pictures in 1970. Later he took on occasional acting parts in The Godfather II and The Manchurian Candidate to name but a few, working with directors who had been his long-term collaborators.

The seven Edgar Allen Poe films he directed in lush Cinemascope for American International Pictures (the eighth The Haunted Palace was partly an H P Lovecraft story) were slightly more gung-ho in nature and built up from the original sets – a bit added each time to a monstruous mansion or spooky seascape. These three stories feature Vincent Price in Morella playing a man who is in conflict with his estranged daughter whose mother died in childbirth. Humour enters the fray in the second story, a farcical and macabre thriller, The Black Cat which features deliciously comical turns from Peter Lorre and Vincent Price as witty and winsome wine buffs who compete to the grim death and The Case of Mr Valdemar, in which a terminally man (Price) hires a hypnotherapist (a suavely sardonic Basil Rathbone) to give him pain relief and prolong his life with disastrous consequences for all concerned including his vivacious wife (Debra Paget in fine form). A highly entertaining trio. MT




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