- Nox 2019
Tales of Terror
Schwarze Geschichten / Der Grauenvolle Mr.X
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
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 ...
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- 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
review © by Mike Haberfelner
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