Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Masque of the Red Death (1964)

Who's In It: Vincent Price (Tower of London, The Hollywood Squares), Hazel Court (The Curse of Frankenstein, The Raven), and Jane Asher (The Prince and the Pauper, Alfie)

What It's About: A sadistic prince (Price) offers his castle as sanctuary from a brutal plague to other nobles willing to obey his every whim. But when he also includes and begins to seduce a young village girl (Asher), his current romance (Court) starts a scheme of her own.

How It Is: I've said before that I prefer film noir Vincent Price to horror Vincent Price. I should rephrase that, but it's movies like Masque of the Red Death that make me think it. I quite enjoyed him in The Raven and The Haunted Palace, because those roles gave him a chance to be funny, or at least complicated. In Masque, he's pure abomination and while he's good at that, I get tired of it quickly. Turns out, I want to like Vincent Price, even when he's eeeevil.

Masque is a great-looking movie though. Especially compared to other, cheaper Corman films I've seen, but I don't need to set it next to those to see its beauty. It makes glorious use of color in the castle decor and in the crimson, plague-heralding specter that gives the movie its name.

The story is compelling, too; I just don't especially like any of the characters. Francesca (Asher) is particularly frustrating, because I start off liking her, but Prospero (Price) leads her through a seduction and transformation that should be fascinating, but turns out unconvincing.

Rating: 3 out of 5 rainbow revenants.


Anonymous said...

I know I'm late but the impetus to comment is more recent. Have you seen "Comedy of Terrors"? I enjoyed the humor and the cast. Price is a financially challenged undertaker, Peter Lorre is his able assistant. Basil Rathbone makes an appearance like none I've seen before (from him). Also appearing are the beautiful Joyce Jameson with the singing voice of an angel (maybe), Joe E Brown (Some Like It Hot), and Boris Karloff. Price schemes to make money quickly in order to pay a debt to Mr. Black (Rathbone) but things do not go quite as planned.

Your humor may be different than mine though - you may be more of a Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (gotta look for the scene with the family portraits - every one is a character that Price has played). There is a sequel that I have not watched - Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs.

Michael May said...

I haven't seen Comedy of Terrors yet. It's been on my long list for a while, but I'm moving it to my For Sure list for next Halloween. Thanks!

Michael May said...

Oh... and I've been aware of the Dr Goldfoot movies for a while, but wasn't sure if I wanted to watch them or not. I'll add them to the list, too.


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