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 '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.
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FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS, PIT AND THE PENDULUM, FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER.