“Famine, pestilence, war, disease, and death — they rule this world.”
Response to Peary’s Review:
“… that the denouement will contain the standard triumph of good over evil, but this is not the case” — rather, “the Death that claims victims does not choose according to whether one believes in God or Satan”. He argues that the “film is in its way as philosophic as Bergman’s picture; Corman’s characters are as hopelessly confused and terrified, because the God in whom they had faith abandoned them”. He points out that this movie, “filmed in England, in Technicolor” is “the most handsome of Corman’s films”, with “the set design by Daniel Haller and photography by Nicholas Roeg” “exceptional”.
I chose to (re)-watch The Masque of the Red Death as part of my ongoing revisit of all the Poe-inspired films made by Roger Corman, not quite realizing exactly how timely this tale would feel during our COVID-19 pandemic. This film about an evil nobleman and his willing compatriots denying refuge to plaintive villagers provides a potent cautionary tale about the need to continuously support one another through the hardest of times, across all boundaries: social, economic, racial, and religious. The “Red Death” can come at any time, to anyone, and no amount of denial or cruelty can stop its path. Viewers should be prepared for some surprisingly disturbing scenes — such as Price nastily ordering his guests to act like beasts (“How like a worm you are. Be one.”); Magee openly leering at a young woman (Greenlaw) who looks like a girl (and was actually performed by a child); Court orgiastically bonding herself to the devil through self-branding an upside-down cross onto her bosom; and Price voicing countless creepy lines (“The way is not easy, I know, but I will take you by the hand and lead you through the cruel light into the velvet darkness.”)
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)