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Tales of Terror
Schwarze Geschichten / Der Grauenvolle Mr.X

USA 1962
produced by
Roger Corman, Samuel Z. Arkoff (executive), James H. Nicholson (executive) for Alta Vista, AIP
directed by Roger Corman
starring Vincent Price, Maggie Pierce, Leona Gage, Peter Lorre, Joyce Jameson, Basil Rathbone, Debra Paget, David Frankham, Edmund Cobb, John Hackett, Lennie Weinrib, Wally Campo, Alan DeWitt, Scott Brown
screenplay by Richard Matheson, based on the stories Morella, The Black Cat, A Cask of Amontillado and The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar by Edgar Allan Poe, music by Les Baxter, special effects by Pat Dinga

AIP's Poe-cycle, Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe-adaptations, Edgar Allan Poe's Black Cat, The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Three tales based on stories by Edgar Allan Poe that are otherwise unrelated, and there is no linking narrative:

  • Morella: Locke (Vincent Price) has gone into seclusion 26 years ago, since the death of his wife Morella (Leona Gage) shortly after the birth of his daughter Lenora, whom he has since sent away, to live alone in his crumbling castle with the mummified corpse of his dead wife. Now Lenora (Maggie Pierce), who hasn't seen her father in all these years, has returned home, to see her father one more time before she - being terminally ill - has to die too. At first, daddy Locke does want to see nothing of her, but soon they reconcile and start bonding - much to the dismay of Morella, who still seems to live in the house as a spirit - and soon enough, she strangles her daughter, takes over her body, and strangles Locke, while the house goes up in flames.
  • The Black Cat and A Cask of Amontillado: Montresor (Peter Lorre) is an old drunk, but he also knows his way around wine, and eventually, at a winetasting, he holds his own against noted wine-tasting champion Fortunato (Vincent Price). Eventually though, Fortunato has to carry Montresor home - where he meets Montressor's lovely wife Annabel (Joyce Jameson), and before you know it the two of them start having an affair, meeting every time Montresor's out drinking. Montresor is no whole fool though and eventually finds out about it - and to have his revenge, he invites Fortunato to dinner, drugs his wine and eventually chains him up and walls him in together with Annabel, to die in agony. It seems to be the perfect crime, but eventually the police become suspicious about the disappearance of both his wife and the popular winetaster, and start asking Montresor questions - which seem to lead to nowhere though, until they hear a creepy sound from behind one of the walls, and when they tear down the wall, they find the dead bodies of Montresor and Annabel and the very much alive body of Montresor's black cat, which Montresor unintentionally walled in with the both of them ...
  • The Facts in the Case of M.Valdemar: Valdemar (Vincent Price) is slowly dieing, and he has hired a hypnotist (Basil Rathbone) to at least relieve him of his pain, but then he truly dies and the hypnotist just won't let his soul leave his body - until undead Valdemar rises from his deathbed and strangles the hypnotist ...

In the early 1960's, Roger Corman has made a string of Edgar Allan Poe-adaptations, some great and some at best so-so, but all highly atmospheric and very accomplished in direction. Normally, Corman (or rather his screenwriters) took one (or two) of Poe's short stories and beefed it (them) up to feature length - with very mixed results. Here though screenwirter Richard Matheson went for the anthology approach with each story getting a screentime more suitable to its short story format (and in one cse he ahs even merged two - very similarly themed - stories) - and the film really profits from it, presenting the audience with three macabre stories that are high on atmosphere and pretty true to Poe's source material, with the top honours of course going to the second episode that features a great acting duel between overacting Vincent Price and understating Peter Lorre, which works so particularly well because despite of their different acting approaches they treat each other as equals and never try to concsiously upstage each other. Their chemistry was so great in fact that production company AIP immediately teamed them up in two more movies, The Raven and Comedy of Terrors, both horror films which put an emphasis on comedy.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

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directed by
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written by
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starring
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