After a long journey, Philip arrives at the Usher mansion seeking his loved one, Madeline. Upon arriving, however, he discovers that Madeline and her brother Roderick Usher have been afflicted with a mysterious malady: Roderick's senses have become painfully acute, while Madeline has become catatonic. That evening, Roderick tells his guest of an old Usher family curse: any time there has been more than one Usher child, all of the siblings have gone insane and died horrible deaths. As the days wear on, the effects of the curse reach their terrifying climax. Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher and Nina <firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com>
"I suggest you live, mr. Winthrop. No? Then perish with us".
This is Roger Corman´s first Edgar Allan Poe-based movie and probably the best of them all in terms of direction, acting and script. It´s certainly the best adapted one, because it manages to build a larger story around the events of the tale without borrowing material from other tales and without making it seem obvious, unlike the sequels. Anyway, probably my favorite is still "Masque of the red death" which is also my favorite Poe tale. The rest deserves a look, of course, but it doesn´t get any better.
Vincent Price stars as Roderick Usher, a man obsessed with the tragic history of the Usher clan, filled with psychopats, murderers of all kinds and people who die of incurable illnesses. He forces his sister Madeline (Myrna Fahey) to stay in the house waiting for death to spare the world the horrors of the Usher family in years to come and even builds two separate coffins for them. Madeline´s fiancee (Mark Damon) goes looking for her to the house and is received by the obedient butler Bristol (Harry Ellerbe). From there on this four characters will go through a lot of arguing, running around the House (which, like in the Poe tale, is a character itself, one of a really menacing nature) and digging on ancient secrets. Any Corman or Poe afficionado can figure out the rest of the story by himself, but it´s a joy to watch it evolve here.
The star of the show is Vincent Price, of course. He puts in a black robe or a red silk suit and speaks in a low, soft, modulated voice, throwing his overwrought dialogue while the others just stare at him with surprise and fear. He has a special weakness of the hearing (I have the same problem, BTW, although not to this extent) and in one scene the fiancee screams at him hard enough to make him twitch in pain. In that scene you realize just what a genius he is. The set decoration is also to be noted (you won´t forget easily the paintings of the Usher family members by Burt Schonberg), as is the music and practically everything that sets the unbelievable mood this movie has.
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