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Though his ancestor Curwen (Vincent Price) was burnt here as a
warlock for conducting unholy experiments with the villagers, with many
genetic deformities blamed to his name, Charles Dexter Ward (Price
again) wants to settle in the small fishing village of Arkham, where he
has inherited Curwen's palace. But the situation seeems to be doomed
right from the beginning, when he & his wife Anne (Debra Paget) are
rejected by townsfolks, while finally at their palace, mysterious
caretaker Simon (Lon Chaney jr) already awaits them. The mild mannered
Ward soon changes his attitude though when being possessed by the spirit
of Curwen, who seems to live in the large portrait in the hall, & he
has some big plans: not only does he - along with Simon & professor
Jabez Hutchinson (Milton Parsons), who mysteriously survived the last
110 years - want to resurrect his wife & awake the Elder Gods, he
also wants to exact his revenge on the villagers by killing the
descendants of those who once burned him. But the villagers are of
course quick to blame all the killings on Ward/Curwen, build a
lynch-mob, go to his palace, torches in hands, & of course burn the
place, & with it, Curwen's portrait, releasing Ward - who is saved
in the nick of time by the village doctor (Frank Maxwell) - of that
man's evil spell ... but does it really one wonders when Ward's face, in
the final shot, shows his sinister streak again.
ads & the title claimed otherwise, not based on Edgar Allan Poe but
on a story by H.P.Lovecraft, but filmed in the same style, with similar
actors & sets, as Corman's Poe-adaptations. It doesn't work out all
that well though, since Lovecraft's concepts of the Elder Gods do not
work all that well in the very artificial sets that Corman also used for
his Edgar Allan Poe-movies, & Price as the movie's undoubtable center
does also seem a little out of place here (although his acting once
again is impeccable), plus the film's story does seem a little muddled.
It's still an entertaining & enjoyable movie, however in comparison
with Corman's real Poe-adapations, it definitely loses.