The first film to be reviewed by me for 2015 is thanks to Arrow Films and one of the films picked from their film set the Six Gothic Tales all starring film and genre legend Vincent Price. Now I have seen a lot of Vincent Price films in my life and I don't think there's been one that's escaped my viewing pleasure. I take it that almost every horror movie fan has at least one or two Vincent Price films in their collection. For me I have the ones I could get my hands on but there are some that escape my grasp as I can't find them or when I do someone has outrageously priced them. But enough about my adventures of trying to find Vincent Price films in the open markets of Flea Markets or retail stores.
This film is an anthology film dealing with three short sequences based off Edgar Allen Poe's short poems, "Morella", "The Black Cat" and "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdermar". This film is also the fourth film is a series of films called "Corman-Poe" films. Roger Corman having done 8 films based off the works of Poe during his time with American International Pictures. The first sequence of the film is started off with a narration from Price himself and then goes into "Morella".
"Morella" tells the tale of Lenora Locke who travels from Boston to be reunited with her father after not seeing him for nearly twenty-something years. As she enters the house discovering the house in despair and cobwebs. She finds her father drunken and depressed and soon accusing her of being the murderer of her own mother. As it turns out Lenora's mother Morella had died during childbirth with her and her father has gone mad cause of this incident. The supernatural element of this tale is Morella's spirit would rise from her death bed and kill the person whose responsible for killing her. Once Morella is resurrected she becomes alive and beautiful just as she was when she was originally alive but quickly turns on Vincent and stangles him in the process of setting the house on fire and the two female characters return to their own bodies. Lenora left laying on top of her father's corpse smiling while Morella begins to rot and cackles as the house goes up in flames. This story would later be revamped and loosely based in 1990 as a full length feature titled "The Haunting of Morella".
Our second sequence titled "The Black Cat" stars Peter Lorre as Montresor Herringbone who not only hates his wife, Annabelle but her black cat as well. One night he rambles around town being thrown out of various places before stumbling into a wine tasting event where he ends up challenging the town's foremost wine taster, Fortunato Luchresi played by Vincent Price. The comedy element is sure here in this sequence showing that Price could be comical as well as menacing in film. During the challenge Herringbone becomes drunk and Luchresi escorts him home to insure his safety. But once he gets Herringbone home he falls in love with Annabelle upon first sight and the two become intimate. Herringbone becomes aware of his wife's indiscretion and kills her as well as Luchresi as he inters their bodies in a wall he made from bricks in his basement. Its during this time that he starts to hallucinate seeing various dangerous animals crawling around his house and then the bodies of the people he killed coming back to get him only to rip his head off his body. Its when he police get wary of him and investigate his house. They discover a sound coming from behind the wall but Herringbone tries to tell them that there's nothing there and the sound is coming from his head. The police make a ghastly discovery as they find the bodies of Annabelle and Luchresi entombed inside this wall and the mistake that Herringbone made as he had entombed the black cat with them as well which was alive and gave him away.
The final sequence of the film is "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdermar". Vincent Price stars as Valdermar whose dying from a deadly disease and employs the help of a hypnotist, M. Carmichael, played Basil Rathbone, to help him deal with his pain by putting him in various trances to alleviate the pain of the disease that's killing him. During a trance Valdermar dies and his soul is trapped between the world of the living and the world of the dead. He begins to beg Carmichael to let his soul go so he could rest in peace but Carmichael's assistance has now turned to greed as he as done something that's groundbreaking and doesn't want to end his experiment just yet. Valdermar's own doctor, played by David Frankham tries his best to stop Carmichael but fails as he reveals to the doctor that any attempt at killing him would only mean that Valdermar's spirit would be trapped forever in this state. Carmichael even attempts to force Valdermar's wife to marry him but once she refuses he attacks her and tells her she will have no choice to marry him. Its in that moment that Valdermar awakens and his body begins to putrify as he kills Carmichael. The doctor breaks into the room to see Valdermar's putrified corpse on top of Carmichael's body as he gets Vadlermar's wife out of the scene of horror.
And that my friend's is the anthology film Tales of Terror. Now with any anthology film your bound to have the sequences or stories that you will like and have one or two that you'll be bound to dislike. This film has the right blend of horror and fright mashed together with the humor to break up the horror element. Corman's film was filmed over a three week period in which Roger Corman even reused a set and some footage from a previous film, The House of Usher in Morella. I got five more films to review from this boxset and already I am happy that I started off with this one and wasn't let down. Arrow Film's did a great job on converting this to Blu-ray and the film looks beautiful.
If you have a Region B player or a Region Free player then here's the link for you to buy the set if you've been trying to get your hands on a copy of it.
Below are pics from a testing of Vincent Price's make up test for the putrified scene from The Facts in the Case of M. Valdermar.
reviewed by Bucky