Horror junkies might have to wait till 2023 until Mike Flannagan’s production of House of Usher premieres on Netflix, but that doesn’t mean they have to spend this Halloween without Edgar Allan Poe. There are plenty of cinematic adaptations of the prolific writer’s work, but no one understood Poe as a creator or a person better than Vincent Price.
Price and Poe are two horror geniuses who have often been together in various ways. Thanks to Roger Corman’s “Poe Cycle,” the actor has been the gold standard for performances of the writer’s work since 1960 and continues to be a permanent fixture of the genre. With Halloween fastly approaching, it’s high time to start streaming these gothic classics.
9/9 The Oblong Box (6.0)
Poe was notorious for his tales of premature burials and deeds done in the dead of night, but Corman’s adaptation goes a little over-the-top than readers of the author’s work probably expect. That being said, the production does bring together the forces of Vincent Price and Christopher Lee for a tale of grave robbing, deceptions, death, and voodoo rituals.
It’s not exactly what Poe scholars would call accurate, largely thanks to the introduction of the magic element, but it’s an interesting adaptation of the story. Plus, seeing Price and Lee together in a gothic horror film will win the approval of many horror buffs.
8/9 The Tomb Of Ligeia (6.4)
If there was ever an actor who understood the gothic drama genre to its most intricate nuances, it was Vincent Price. The Tomb of Ligeia wasn’t his scariest work, but it was arguably his most Poe-influenced performance. Haunted castles, ghosts, black cats, and melancholy lovers abound in this adaptation of one of Poe’s most terrifying works.
A haunted and heartbroken widower remarries after the death of his beloved Ligeia, only to be stalked and terrorized by his first wife’s vengeful spirit. Contrary to typical casting, Price is not the villain of this story but rather the victim who wanders the halls of his castle alone and tormented. Easily one of the most recognizable fixtures in his filmography, Price made this melodramatic production a heart wrenching affair.
7/9 The Raven (6.5)
Poe was not really a writer associated with comedies, but this humorous horror film is both a love letter to his greatest poem and a gathering of beloved horror alum all in one package. Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, and even a young Jack Nicholson deck out the cast list of this laudable and laughable adaptation of “The Raven.”
Price, Lorre, and Karloff star as a trio of wizards locked in a vicious rivalry, and haunted hilarity ensues. What essentially boils down to an elongated wizard’s duel is a blend of Poe’s work and Corman’s gift for visually stunning horror films. It might fly under a few viewers’ radars, but it’s certainly a solid watch for the spooky season.
6/9 The Haunted Palace (6.7)
The best way to describe this film would be “Poe meets Price meets Lovecraft,” as the production takes a mixture of elements from Poe’s “The Haunted Palace” and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward by H.P. Lovecraft. With this mixture of elements and individuals from the horror genre, it makes for a truly traditional haunted house film.
A village haunted by an evil warlock, a large gothic mansion, cults of Cthulhu and Yog Sohoth, and performances from both Vincent Price and Lon Chaney Jr. are what fuel this entry in Corman’s “Poe Cycle” and it’s a wildly eerie production. Not only is it a triumph for Corman and Price, but it was one of the first films to bring Lovecraft to the big screen.
5/9 Tales Of Terror (6.8)
Anthology films are a common practice in vintage horror, and anything featuring legends of the genre like Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Basil Rathbone in a trilogy of tales by Edgar Allan Poe is a horror fan’s dream come true. Not only does the film bring tales like “Morella,” “The Black Cat,” and “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” but it does it in a deliciously black-comedic way as well.
Price, naturally, stars in all three stories, and he is certainly at the top of his game, especially his portrayal of Fortunato Luchresi in the second segment. A tame entry compared to some of the actor’s other work, but one that’s practically made to introduce new fans to Price’s work.
4/9 Masque Of The Red Death (6.9)
Masque of the Red Death is arguably the most frightening feature in Vincent Price’s career, and certainly the most intense entry of Corman’s “Poe Cycle.” The film consists of a deadly blood plague, depictions of torture, human sacrifice, satanic rituals, and a surprising amount of gore for 1964. Of course, an actor of Price’s caliber would be required to bring this monster to life.
Price portrays the infamous Prince Prospero, a devilish despot who holds the titular masquerade in the halls of his palace. He tortures his own subjects, murders his wife, and tries to seduce a young Jane Asher all before the ebony clock strikes midnight. Fortunately, his comeuppance arrives in the form of a crimson masked guest with a gory party favor.
3/9 House Of Usher (6.9)
Vincent Price has always been known for his gift for over-the-top delivery, and Corman’s House of Usher is a prime example of that fact. The plot of the movie itself is a gothic masterpiece concerning the titular House of Usher and the infamous siblings that call it home, but Price’s portrayal of Roderick Usher is so gloriously over-the-top that it’s almost cliché.
Familial curses, murder plots, and haunted houses are all par for the course in Edgar Allan Poe’s work, but this production brings them all boiling to the surface. If fans are unfamiliar with the films of Poe or Roger Corman, this is certainly a great place to start.
2/9 The Pit And The Pendulum (7.0)
To say Price works best when he’s allowed to play the villain, and his career is loaded to the brim with villainous roles. While Prince Prospero is certainly his evilest, the dual role of Sebastian and Nicholas Medina is perhaps his most violent. In this adaptation of Poe’s “Pit and the Pendulum”, Price plays both an inquisitor and his son in a tale of torture chambers and traumatic pasts.
Like so many Corman films, the atmosphere is the star of the show. A haunted castle with iron maidens, a bloody history, and the titular pit and pendulum is an ideal horror setting for any terrifying plot. Price’s performance is simply the words that sell the tune.
1/9 An Evening Of Edgar Allan Poe (7.4)
Although not part of Corman’s filmography, Vincent Price’s love for Poe and his work brilliantly shine in this made-for-TV production of the author’s work. However, those expecting Price to simply just read or recite a few stories and poems are in for a ghoulish delight as the actor not only recites them but performs them in front of an audience as all the characters.
With his iconic style, Price elates and performs “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “Cask of Amontillado,” The Sphinx,” and “The Pit and the Pendulum” with a phenomenal theatrical flare. It’s been said before, but this movie makes it worth repeating, if there’s one man viewers need to hear the words of Poe from, it’s Vincent Price.
NEXT: The 10 Best Horror Movies By Universal Pictures (According To IMDb)