Monday, June 7, 2010

The Masque of the Red Death (1964)

Roger Corman returns to the works of Edgar Allen Poe with what many may consider to be his finest film. When the local noblemen are threatened by the plague of the Red Death that is ravishing the countryside, they seek safe haven within the walls of the maligned Prince Prospero's castle. Prospero engages them in extravagant feasts leading up to his grand masquerade ball, while also including them in his Satanic rituals in order to secure their souls for his master. As the contagion quickly approaches, Prospero is left to decide the fates of the remaining peasants that are left pleading for sanctuary at the gates of the castle as well as the fates of his corrupt companions. MASQUE'S depiction of profanity and excess that rules the upper class serves to drive the struggle between the peasants and their lords. Their ironic end proves that money and power are just an illusion in the face of death. Prince Prospero becomes one of Vincent Price's most profoundly sinister roles, which he plays without a hint of camp or silliness unlike in many of his other performances of the time. Corman's lavish color palette and baroque stylism are reflective of his long time influences Ingmar Bergman and Frederico Fellini. Of the many stunning compositions laid out on screen, Juliana's nightmarish dream sequence and the eloquently evil masquerade ball that is alluded to in the title stand out as being two of his most impressive visual achievements. With THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, Roger Corman seals his place as one of the Masters of Horror.

Rating: 9/10.
Number of views: 1.

If you liked THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, check out:
FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS, PIT AND THE PENDULUM, FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER.


5 comments:

  1. My biggest memory of that film is still the midget couple which consists of a male 'little person' and a little girl whose voice is dubbed in by a woman. For some reason, that sticks with me.

    I will say that this is one of Corman's more lavish and impressive production values. As usual, he gets a good performance out of Price.

    I do wish that there was a better and more available DVD version. The only one I know of is the Midnight Movie set with this movie and 'The Premature Burial.' Thanks, but I really just want the Price film!

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  2. I am always hit or miss with Price, but he was very good in this role. The problem is he just sticks out like a sore thumb, which is what took away from his performance in Witchfinder as well.

    I snagged the double feature at FYE for $4 new somehow, but Premature Burial really was a bore

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  3. I enjoyed all the Corman/Price/Poe movies, the one's without Corman, not so much. WITCHFINDER will always be one of his best for me. Love that movie. I ended up buying it three or four damn times, lol.

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  4. After all the time it took for 'Witchfinder' to get a real DVD release, my expectations were high for it. I was not disappointed.

    All of the Behind The Scenes stuff related to that movie is almost more interesting than it to me though. The whole thing with Price and the director not getting along, culminating in the scene where Price is welted with a plastic axe for a dozen takes.

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  5. WITCHFINDER had a R2 special edition release prior to the R1 release. Haven't checked to see if if the R1 is the same yet, but the R2 has an awesome documentary on Michael Reeve's movies with special emphasis on the Price film. It's called 'Blood Beasts: the Films of Michael Reeves'.

    The R1 has a commentary track which the R2 doesn't have. The R2 also purports to have two different versions of the movie, but I can't tell what's supposed to be different from one cut to the next aside from footage spliced in from another source on both versions.

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