Motion Pictures Greatest Terror Personalities: Vincent Price, Basil Rathbone, Peter Lorre – Together for the first time!
This trailer from TALES OF TERROR provides an interesting glimpse into how movies were sold to audiences back in 1962. Curiously, the omnibus film’s three episodes are presented in reverse order from their actual appearance in the film. Also noteworthy: the tongue-in-cheek middle episode is acknowledged as being “sardonically humorous” – a tactic that distributor American International Pictures would avoid when releasing the comical THE RAVEN a year later, presenting it as a straight horror thriller.
As part of Cinefantastique’s 50th anniversary tribute to TALES OF TERROR (1962), we recently posted a podcast discussing producer-director Roger Corman’s three-part omnibus of horror inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe. As scintillating as the podcast conversation might be, it cannot capture the aesthetic achievements of the film, which features impressive production design (by Daniel Haller) and lovely cinematography (by Floyd Crosby). Therefore, we present this pictorial retrospective, showcasing horror stars Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Basil Rathbon, in the episodes MORELLA, THE BLACK CAT, and THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR.
With no new horror, fantasy, or science fiction films opening this weekend, Cinefantastique stalwarts Lawrence French and Steve Biodrowski keep their Sense of Wonder alive by turning the clock back five decades for a retrospective celebration of TALES OF TERROR (1962), producer-director Roger Corman’s fourth film inspired by the work of Edgar Allan Poe. With a witty screenplay by Richard Matheson (THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN), and a cast including Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Basil Rathbone, this three-part anthology serves up the expected chills and thrills, along with a perhaps unexpected dose of merriment, in MORELLA, THE BLACK CAT, and THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR. The result is a classic example of 1960s terror cinema, colorful and atmospheric, with impressive art direction by Daniel Haller, beautifully captured by cinematographer Floyd Crosby, with an ethereal score by Les Baxter.
So listen in as Steve and Larry open the vault to exhume the buried behind-the-scenes secrets and the arcane aesthetics of this popuri of Poe. The result is a scintillating CFQ Spotlight podcast, which answers the immortal question: What the hell happened to that missing limbo scene?
“X” THE MAN WITH THE X-RAY EYES / TALES OF TERROR “MORELLA”: LIMITED EDITION LLLCD 1174
Music by Les Baxter Limited Edition of 1200 Units STARTS SHIPPING JUNE 7th
SPECIAL SALE PRICE: $14.98 (reg. $19.98)
ORDER “X” THE MAN WITH THE X-RAY EYES / TALES OF TERROR “MORELLA”: LIMITED EDITION” starting JUNE 7th at www.lalalandrecords.com at a special sale price of $14.98) Sale price good thru 6/20/11.
Presenting the world premiere release of selections from acclaimed composer Les Baxter’s (THE DUNWICH HORROR, PANIC IN YEAR ZERO, HELL’S BELLES, BEACH BLANKET BINGO) original scores to Roger Corman’s 1963 classic shocker “X” THE MAN WITH THE X-RAY EYES and the “MORELLA” chapter of Corman’s 1962 Edgar Allan Poe-themed anthology feature TALES OF TERROR. After an exhaustive search, only the final two-thirds of X-RAY’s score was recovered, but contained within those ¼ inch elements was the partial score to the Vincent Price-starring “Morella” segment of TALES OF TERROR. Both are presented here and feature the immortal Baxter at his jazzed-infused gothic best.
Produced by Ford A. Thaxton and painstakingly mastered by James Nelson from MGM vault elements, this release features in-depth liner notes from film music writer Randall D. Larson. A must-have for film music enthusiasts, especially those Baxter and Corman fans! This is a limited edition of 1200 units.
“X” THE MAN WITH THE X-RAY EYES
1. End Title (Extended) (3:38)
2. Penthouse (1:50)
3. Fast Twist (2:07)
4. Nude Twist (1:55)
5. Casino Lounge (2:31)
6. Posh (2:29)
7. Desert Chase/Helicopter Pursuit/
8. Pluck It Out/End Credits
(Film Version) (3:20) TALES OF TERROR: “MORELLA”
9. The Corpse and The Ghost (1:29)
10. Lenora / Morella /Fire & Smoke / Eerie House (4:53)
11. End Credits (2:45)
Bonus Material From
X: THE MAN WITH THE X-RAY EYES
12. X Main Title (with sound effects) (1:51)
13. Las Vegas Lights (with sound effects) (1:02)
14. Organ Interlude (3:53)
15. Outtake Suite (2:44)
Total Time: 42:37
NEW RELEASE SPECIALS! To celebrate our new Les Baxter release, we’re offering his PANIC IN YEAR ZERO, HELL’S BELLES and BEACH BLANKET BINGO limited editions at a special sale price of only $9.98 each.
And to salute Green Lantern’s new upcoming big screen epic, grab Rob Kral’s uber-cool GREEN LANTERN: FIRST FLIGHT score for a special sale price of only $4.98. Get ’em now! These special prices are good thru JUNE 20th. Only at www.lalalandrecords.com
This week, Netflix added a bloody barrel-full of horror movies from the 1960s and ’70s to their list of titles available for Instant Viewing. Many of these are classics made by Hammer Films in England or by American International Pictures in the U.S. In some cases, the titles are not available on DVD, so this is a much-needed opportunity for fans to have access to them.
Here is a brief rundown:
THE COMEDY OF TERRORS: a 1963 AIP production, with horror stars Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, and Basil Rathbone sending themselves up.
THE CRIMSON CULT: a weak 1968 British effort, distinguished only by the presence of horror stars Barbara Steele, Boris Karloff, and Christopher Lee (not on DVD).
DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN: Vincent Price is back as the abominable Doctor, this time outracing a rival (Robert Quarry) for the secret of eternal life.
HANDS OF THE RIPPER: a 1917 Hammer horror in which the spirit of Jack the Ripper may live on in his daughter (not on DVD).
THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH: Vincent Price stars as Prince Prospero in this, the best of Roger Corman’s Poe adaptations.
THE RAVEN: an amusing 1963 horror-comedy from Roger Corman, with Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, and Hazel Court.
TALES OF TERROR: a triptych of Poe tales from Corman, with Price, Rathbone, and Lorre.
THEATRE OF BLOOD: Vincent Price plays a Shakespearian actor out to kill the critics who denied him an award. Ghoulish, bloody, and funny.
TOMB OF LIGEIA: Corman’s 1965 swan song to the Poe cycle is another fine effort, this time with an emphasis on doomed romance, with Vincent Price and Elizabeth Shepherd.
THE VAMPIRE LOVERS: a 1970 Hammer production based on J. Sheridan LeFanu’s Carmilla, starring Ingrid Pitt as the eroticaly charged vampire countess.
VAMPIRE CIRCUS: a 1972 tale of a travelling circus that arrives at a town quarantined by a plague, this is one of the best Hammer films from this era; it pushed the envelope, moving from sexual innuendo to actual sex (not on DVD).
The key titles here are HANDS OF THE RIPPER and VAMPIRE CIRCUS, due to their lack of DVD availability; these are truly worth checking out. THE CRIMSON CULT is also not available on DVD, but it is of lesser interest.
So far, I have sampled only a portion of DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN. The picture quality (with a high-speed internet connection through a Roku box to a high-def television) is quite good but clearly not up to the level of a Blu-ray disc – closer to DVD. UPDATE: I finished watching the DR. PHIBES sequel and I am pleased to say that the version shown on Netflix includes the correct music at the end: Vincent Price singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN is one of many AIP films that suffered soundtrack problems when originally released to video, with original cues replaced by alternate tracks. In this case, the effectiveness of the ending was totally ruined by the use of inappropriate music, so it is nice to report that the this problem has not been repeated here.
Friday Cat Blogging is an Internet tradition not much associated with cinefantastique, but we are doing our best to change that. Not so long ago, we did an installment dedicated to Stuart Gordon’s MASTERS OF HORROR adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat.” This week, we’re taking a look at producer-director Roger Corman’s TALES OF TERROR, a 1962 anthology film that includes an episode inspired by the very same story.
In Corman’s triptych of tales inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, “The Black Cat” shows up in the middle episode (which includes elements of “The Cask of Amontillado”). Rotund Peter Lorre plays Montresor Herringbone, a jovial alcoholic who introduces his wife to a handsome wine-taster (Vincent Price). When he discovers they are having an affair, he kills them and walls the ir bodies in the cellar but inadvertently entombs the cat as well, its mournful wail alerting the police to the corpses.
To provide a change of pace from the first and third episodes in this anthology film, screenwriter Richard Matheson turned “The Black Cat” into a black comedy and left out the more gruesome elements (in the story, the demented narrator plucks out the cat’s eye and later hangs it to death, only to be horrified when an exact duplicate – down to the rope mark on its neck – arrives to haunt him). The actors do a fine job of playing the horror for laughs, and Lorre is particularly adept at being both funny and menacing, but the title character (first scene atop a sign as Herringbone walks home) is not one of the most memorable screen felines – more innocuous than ominous, it is an object of Herringbone’s hatred more than a symbol of his guilty conscience. Fortunately, the nameless pet (known as Pluto in Poe’s story) does provide a memorable final close-up when discovered on the head of its dead mistress, wailing with rage.
Despite the comedic liberties, the adaptation is closer to Poe than either of the two films that Universal Pictures named after the story (in 1934 and 1941 respectively). One might gripe that Lorre’s Herringbone is a drunken lout from the moment we meet him, so we never see his descent from normalcy, but Corman does capture the essential element: driven by drink, a man brings about his own self-destruction, aided by a cat that – deliberately or accidentally – exacts vengeance for being mistreated. Also noteworthy: scenes of Lorre carousing in bars – and being tossed out for not paying – seem to have inspired similar footage in Stuart Gordon’s more faithful 2006 version.