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House of Usher
The Fall of the House of Usher

USA 1960
produced by
Roger Corman, James H. Nicholson (executive) for Alta Vista/AIP
directed by Roger Corman
starring Vincent Price, Mark Damon, Myrna Fahey, Harry Ellerbe
screenplay by Richard Matheson, based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe, music by Les Baxter

AIP's Poe-cycle, Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe-adaptations, House of Usher

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Philip Winthrop (Mark Damon) has come to the House of Usher - an old and decaying mansion brought to the USA from the UK brick by brick - to pay his fiancée Madeline (Myrna Fahey) a visit. However, her brother Roderick (Vincent Price) refuses to let him see her, claiming she has got some terrible sickness, but refusing to go into detail. Winthrop is not satisfied by Roderick's explanations and excuses since he remembers Madeline as a very healthy woman - and he is right too, within a few minutes Madeline appears, apparently very healthy, and she even asks Winthrop to spend the night in the castle, despite or even because of her brother's opposition. However, when Philip asks her to go away with him and marry him, she finds all sorts of feeble excuses not at all unlike those of her brother ...

Eventually, Roderick promises to tell Philip the true reason why he and Madeline can't marry, but then he starts mumbling about the curse of the House of Usher and even tries to relate an accident from the other day - Philip was almost squashed by a chandelier - to the curse. Usher's whole speech only upsets Philip and makes him more determined than ever to take Madeline and leaves the house for good, the sooner the better ... and wouldn't you know it, this time Madeline agrees, and the two decide to leave in an hours time.

Then though Madeline gets into an argument with Roderick about the whole affair - and argument that leaves her dead from a heart attack. With the biggst of haste, Roderick has her buried in the family crypt, then he once again urges Philip to leave the house - and with his fiancée gone, Philip agrees ... until he learns that catalepsia runs in the Usher family and thus Madeline might not be dead at all - and when he opens her coffin, he finds her gone.

It turns out that Roderick has put her into another coffin which he chained shut in a secret hiding place within the mansion, and despite Philip threatening him, he won't give away the secret place. Finally, Philip looks for the coffin himself, but when he finds Madeline has already freed herself with the strength of a madman, and now she goes after her brother ...

The finale has Madeline, mad as a hatter, strangling Roderick to death while the House of Usher simultanuously catches fire and falls apart. Only Philip can save his own hide ...

 

Roger Corman's very first Edgar Allan Poe adaptation (he made 8 in total) is a triumph in atmospheric moviemaking. Despite up to now having filmed primarily in black and white, Corman turns out to be a master in choice of moody colours, even though he has learned his trade in fast-paced drive-in cinema, he is perfectly able to adapt his directorial style to the deliberately slower pace of this film, and despite the great number of silly (but often wonderful) sci-fi pics he has made up to now, Corman proves himself perfectly capable of understanding the more subtle undertones of the film's plot (even if it's considerably removed from Poe's short story.

Like most of Corman's Poe-adaptations, this one is a deserved horror classic.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD