“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.
- Debra Paget Films
- Elisha Cook Jr. Films
- Lon Chaney, Jr. Films
- Roger Corman Films
- Vincent Price Films
- Witches, Wizards, and Magicians
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.
Note: 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.
- Noteworthy Performance(s)