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Vincent Price in Six Gothic Tales [UK] Blu-ray Review

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The Collection

[Rating:3.5/5]

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Vincent Price in Six Gothic Tales gathers together the six films produced and directed by B-movie filmmaking legend Roger Corman in is Edgar Allan Poe cycle of the 1960s. Of course, these films only very loosely resemble anything that Poe put to page, especially The Haunted Castle, which has the distinction of bearing Poe’s name and a title from his poem, but actually having a plot from H.P. Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.

The six films presented in this collection are The Fall of the House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, Tales of Terror, The Raven, The Haunted Palace, and The Tomb of Ligeia. Of these six films, the most outstanding are the first two, which arguably most resemble anything having to do with Poe’s most original works and are most believable as honest attempts at Gothic horror.

The Fall of the House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum have been previously reviewed on this site. Tales of Terror is actually an anthology of three Poe stories, the first involving a grieving widow who reunites with the daughter he blames for his wife’s untimely death, the second involves a drunkard, a black cat, and a man he believes to be having an affair with his wife. In the third story, a dying man agrees to be hypnotized at the moment of his death.

The Raven is arguably the most egregious misstep of the collection of films, turning Poe’s serious poem of longing and loss into a comedy. Peter Lorre plays the Raven, who, as it turns out, is actually a magician that was cursed by a rival wizard and turned into the bird. He turns to the sorcerer Dr, Erasmus Craven (Price) to help him get revenge on the powerful sorcerer who cursed him.

In The Haunted Palace, Vincent Price place Charles Dexter Ward who returns to claim his inheritance a century after his ancestor placed a curse on the surrounding village before they executed him. While staying in the palace he is meant to inherit he finds himself slowly assuming the activities and identity of his ancestor. The story for this film works, even if it isn’t exactly “Edgar Allan Poe’s” The Haunted Palace and belongs more to H.P. Lovecraft’s work.

Lastly, in The Tomb of Ligeia, Vincent Price plays the eccentric recluse Verden Fell who lives alone in with his manservant in the same, now abandoned abbey on the grounds where his late wife was buried. Obsessed with his dead wife, and believing she will one day return to him, he marries the beautiful Lady Rowena (Elizabeth Shepherd), only to interrupt any potential marital bliss with his obsession over his dead wife. The film is marked by the appearance of a strange black cat, a surreal dream sequence involving a dead fox, and Price’s dark sunglasses.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

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Each film in this Vincent Price Six Gothic Tales collection was transferred from original film elements from MGM. While they don’t look horrendous, they certainly do show their vintage with relatively course grain structure, some film softness, and varying degrees of crispness, most of the time wavering due to the process of duping employed for the visual effects of the day. Colors look rich, especially the primaries such as reds. Look at the red riding jackets and dresses in The Tomb of Ligeia as evidence of this. All films come in 2.35:1 AVC 1080p encodements on Blu-ray from Arrow.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3/5]

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The 1.0 LPCM monaural soundtrack for each of these films (The Fall of the House of Usher has a 2.0 LPCM monaural track) is in 48kHz/24-bit resolution. They all have the inherent limitations of the recording of the era and the limited channels, being a little thin and somewhat boxy, but do provide clear enough dialogue and listenable sound effects.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

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200-page Book Limited Edition Exclusive

  • Limited edition 200-page collector’s book containing new writing on all films, an interview with Roger Corman, extracts from Vincent Price’s autobiography and full reproductions of tie-in comic books for Tales of Terror, The Raven and The Tomb of Ligeia originally published in the sixties.

The Fall of the House of Usher

  • Audio Commentary with Roger Corman
  • Legend to Legend: Joe Dante Reflects Upon Roger Corman and the Poe Cycle (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:26:47) – An interview with director and former Corman apprentice Joe Dante.
  • The House is the Monster: Jonathan Rigby (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:32:58) – Interview with author and Gothic horror expert Jonathan Rigby.
  • Vincent Price (1.33:1; up-scaled HD, 1080p/24; 00:11:26) – An archival French television interview with Vincent Price.
  • Fragments of The House of Usher (2.35:1; 1080p/24; 00:10:47) – A specially-commissioned video essay by critic and filmmaker David Cairns examining Corman’s film in relation to Poe’s story.
  • Original Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24)
  • Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by author and critic Tim Lucas and an extract from Vincent Price’s long out of print autobiography, illustrated with original archive stills and posters.

The Pit and the Pendulum

  • Isolated Music & Effects Track
  • Commentary with Roger Corman
  • Commentary with Tim Lucas
  • The Story Behind The Swinging Blade (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:43:07) – Filmed exclusively for Arrow Video in 2013, this documentary looks at the making of The Pit and the Pendulum and features producer and director Roger Corman, star Barbara Steele, Vincent Price’s daughter Victoria Price and more.
  • An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:53:07) – Made for television in 1970, this programme features Vincent Price narrating four of Edgar Allan Poe’s most popular stories before a live audience. The stories featured are “The Tell Tale Heart”, “The Sphinx”, “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Pit and the Pendulum”.
  • Added Television Sequence (1968) (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:05:04) – When sold for television in 1968, the film was too short for the required two hour time slot, so additional footage was shot by Corman’s assistant Tamara Asseyev. This footage features Luana Anders who was the only cast member available at the time.
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:30)
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
  • Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Gothic Horror author Jonathan Rigby, illustrated with original archive stills and posters

Tales of Terror

  • The Directors: Roger Corman (1.33:1; SD; 00:58:32) – This hour-long episode of The Directors TV series, first screened in February 199, takes a career-encompassing look at Roger Corman’s work as director and producer, and includes contributions from James Cameron, Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, Ron Howard and others.
  • Kim Newman on Edgar Allan Poe (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:29:33) – Critic and novelist Kim Newman discusses the influence Poe had on cinema and some of the key adaptations of his work.
  • Anne Billson on Cats in Horror Films (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:09:12) – Anne Billson, critic, novelist, and creator of the Cats on Film blog, discusses the contribution our feline friends have made to genre cinema.
  • The Black Cat (1.66:1; 1080p/24; 00:18:21) – A 1993 short film adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tale, co-written and directed by Rob Green.
  • Theatrical Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:22)
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dan Mumford

The Raven

  • Audio commentary with David del Valle and Derek Botelho
  • Kim Newman on H.P. Lovecraft (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:27:59) – Critic and novelist Kim Newman considers the relationship between H.P. Lovecraft and cinema as well as the challenges faced when adapting his works.
  • A Change of Poe (1.33:1; 1080i/60-upscaled; 00:11:18) – Roger Corman discusses the making of The Haunted Palace in an interview conducted in 2003.
  • Gallery (1080p/24) – a gallery of various promotional materials and poster art.
  • Theatrical Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:14)
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Vladimir Zimakov

The Haunted Palace

  • Isolated Music & Effects Track
  • Audio commentary with David del Valle and Derek Botelho
  • Kim Newman on H.P. Lovecraft (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:27:59) – Critic and novelist Kim Newman considers the relationship between H.P. Lovecraft and cinema as well as the challenges faced when adapting his works.
  • A Change of Poe (1.33:1; 1080i/60-upscaled; 00:11:18) – Roger Corman discusses the making of The Haunted Palace in an interview conducted in 2003.
  • Gallery (1080p/24) – a gallery of various promotional materials and poster art.
  • Theatrical Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:14)
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin

The Tomb of Ligeia

  • The Directors: Roger Corman (1.33:1; SD; 00:58:32) – This hour-long episode of The Directors TV series, first screened in February 199, takes a career-encompassing look at Roger Corman’s work as director and producer, and includes contributions from James Cameron, Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, Ron Howard and others.
  • Kim Newman on Edgar Allan Poe (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:29:33) – Critic and novelist Kim Newman discusses the influence Poe had on cinema and some of the key adaptations of his work.
  • Anne Billson on Cats in Horror Films (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:09:12) – Anne Billson, critic, novelist, and creator of the Cats on Film blog, discusses the contribution our feline friends have made to genre cinema.
  • The Black Cat (1.66:1; 1080p/24; 00:18:21) – A 1993 short film adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tale, co-written and directed by Rob Green.
  • Theatrical Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:22)
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

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In America, Vincent Price was the king of the B-movie in the 1960s. For younger audiences, it may be difficult to understand just how far reaching his influence and recognition was. For myself, I never knew him at the height of his popularity and first remember him as the guy who did the voice over on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. I, of course, know much more about him now, and know well enough to know that anyone who calls themselves a serious horror aficionado must have this Poe cycle in their collection.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B00NQ49W92[/amazon-product]

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[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B00NQ49W92[/amazon-product]

 

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