“I’ll not have my fill of revenge until this village is a graveyard!”
In the late 1700s, warlock Joseph Curwen (Vincent Price) is burned at the stake by the villagers of Arkham, and vows revenge. More than 100 years later, his great-grandson (also Price) arrives in Arkham with his new wife (Debra Paget), and becomes possessed by a painting of Curwen. With the help of his loyal servant (Lon Chaney), Curwen attempts to raise his mistress (Cathie Merchant) from the dead, and to kill off his murderers’ descendants.
Made as part of AIP’s cycle of “Poe” pictures (but actually based on a story by H.P. Lovecraft ), this Corman-directed flick is a compelling treat for fans of gothic horror. With its opulent sets, fog-drenched cinematography, and brass-heavy score, The Haunted Palace has atmosphere to spare; and Corman-favorite Vincent Price is at his hammy best in dual roles as both Ward and Curwen, effortlessly shifting from hapless husband to malevolent warlock with a simple arch of his eyebrows. Because Curwen is treated so viciously by his neighbors in the opening sequence of the film — his dying screams as he’s burned at the stake are bloodcurdling — we can actually sympathize with his desire for revenge; the snively residents of Arkham (many of whom are mutants) almost seem to deserve their fate. Paget is fine as Ward’s unfairly put-upon wife, and Chaney (in ghoulish-green facial makeup) is appropriately creepy as Curwen’s eternally loyal servant — but this is Price’s show all the way.
P.S. Watch for the final compelling shot of the movie, which takes one by surprise.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Vincent Price as Curwen and Ward
- Daniel Haller’s baroque production design
- Atmospheric cinematography (by Floyd Crosby) and direction (by Corman)
- Ronald Stein’s instantly hummable score
Yes, for Price’s performance, and as a most enjoyable “Poe” adaptation by Corman.
Posted on April 3rd, 2009 by admin
Filed under: Original Reviews