3 horror stories based on the writings of Nathaniel Hawthorne. In the 1st story titled "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment", Heidegger attempts to restore the youth of three elderly friends. In "... See full summary »
Three stories adapted from the work of Edgar Allen Poe. A man and his daughter are reunited, but the blame for the death of his wife hangs over them, unresolved. A derelict challenges the local wine-tasting champion to a competition, but finds the man's attention to his wife worthy of more dramatic action. A man dying and in great pain agrees to be hypnotized at the moment of death, with unexpected consequences. Written by
David Carroll <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The "Black Cat" segment was recycled for The Comedy of Terrors (1963) (even the presence of a meddlesome cat). Many of the same actors appear in both films, only here Peter Lorre plays the drunk married to devoted Joyce Jameson, with Vincent Price introduced as the third member of the triangle; in "Comedy of Terrors" Price and Lorre exchange roles, and Jameson essentially repeats her performance. Not only that, but Price's line "What place is this?" from the "M. Valdemar" segment of "Tales of Terror" is recycled as a running gag for Basil Rathbone in "Comedy of Terrors". See more »
In the Black Cat tale, after the police knock open the wall and shows close up of Annabel and the cat, you can she her chest move as she exhales a breath. See more »
Roger Corman's "Tales of Terror" is a terrific mix of horror and comedy. In an era of horror films that take themselves so seriously, it's great to find a film that has its' tongue firmly in cheek. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to enjoy this film as much as i did, but the more I thought about it, weren't Poe's stories one big sick joke themselves?
Vincent Price appears in all three segments and he does a good job under the circumstances. Out of all three segments, the best (and funniest) is "The Black Cat", which also adds a dash of "The Cask of Amontillado" to the mix. Peter Lorre also stars in this segment and the wine tasting contest is among one of the funniest scenes Corman has ever filmed. I have only one quip: a simple switch in casting (Price as Montresor and Lorre as Fortunato) would have made the segment even better. But as it is, it's great stuff.
The opening sequence "Morella" is atmospheric and eerie. The recent remake was nowhere near as effective, so Corman's film provides proof that big budgets aren't necessarily better. Also, making Morella the heroine instead of the victim was an improvement.
The final sequence "Valdemar", has a great revenge ending involving a melting Price and Basil Rathbone. The acting is excellent and it achieves an odd mood the story didn't. It's a testament to Corman's abilities as director.
The technical credits are strong. Floyd Crosby's Panavision photography perfectly changes moods and textures depending on the story. It's exceptional work and should have won an Oscar. Daniel Haller's sets are exqusite. According to Corman himself, these were stock sets purchased from major studios that were altered depending on the story. They look great and real expensive and this gives the film additional class. Richard Matheson's script doesn't overcome its' horror with humor. It finds that thin line between the two and never falters. And Corman himself continues to grow as a filmmaker with each film. He may have made over 100 films, but many of them have stood the test of time, whether they be good, slick trash ("A Bucket of Blood") or important, groundbreaking films ("The Intruder", "House of Usher"). His films should be required viewing by anyone who wants to direct and learn how.
**** out of 4 stars
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