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During the 1960s, Vincent Price became super famous as a horror actor--starring in countless low budget horror flicks. Many of them were very cheap and rather forgettable but he also did a few dandies that were quite watchable. In that latter category I would place this film. It's very enjoyable and despite the plot being awfully far-fetched, it is carried off well. Price plays a nice judge who visits a madman about to be executed. At this meeting, the evil spirit controlling the maniac jumps into Price's body and as a result, he goes from a saintly life of a life of evil and depravity. The acting and writing are good, but I must admit this sort of fare isn't going to be for everyone--deep intellectual stuff this isn't! But, if you like a good scare, give the film a viewing.
Vincent Price, as Simon Cordier, is possessed by an evil spirit and is
forced to kill. Can he overcome the beast that haunts him
Dug this out of my collection and gave it another view. I really like this one and feel it has been underrated by many. The only major problem I have with it is the story would have been better served had the existence of the Horla been left more to question. Still I really enjoyed this, especially Vincent Price in the lead. It's got that old-time 1960s AIP Horror feel to it even though it wasn't made there.
Vincent Price plays Simon Cordier a kind man who is a judge. He is
possessed by a Horla (never shown--you only hear its voice) who thrives
on evil. It sets Price out to commit evil deeds even though he fights
against it. Then he meets sweet Odette (Nancy Kovack) and things go out
Well-made, colorful (some BEAUTIFUL set design here), low-key horror film. The plot is interesting and the acting is good (especially Price and Kovack). There's next to no violence in this one (the one murder scene is badly faked)...it mostly concentrates on Price fighting against the Horla. There's a few very interesting discussions between Price and the demon about good, evil and morality. It all leads up to a great climax. If you're looking for a blood and guts movie this isn't it but it is an intelligent thoughtful horror film. Recommended.
Most horror movies made between the '50's and '70's weren't very much
psychological once and featured for instance monsters, gore and tons of
blood. In that regard "Diary of a Madman" is a quite refreshing movie.
It lies its emphasis on the psychological aspects of the movie and uses
it for its tension, mystery and just overall horror, even though the
movie still features a 'supernatural' horror theme.
The movie has a well build up and constructed story, that only gets better and better as it heads toward the ending. The movie begins quite typical but soon becomes very intriguing when it becomes obvious that just is not just another average standard '60's horror flick, with Vincent Price in the lead role. The movie shows how the highly respected magistrate/sculptor slowly looses his mind when he is being possessed by a strange mysterious spirit called an Horla. Of course no one believes him at first when he starts to hear and see things. He starts to question his own sanity, until the Horla has him in his almost complete control. Good old Vincent Price however decides to fight back and we already at the start sort of know what has happened, since the movie is told in the past time, when people read his diary in which he described the strange events that had happened.
So you don't really have to expect an horror movie with monster, gore and scare effects. This movie is mostly about its build-up and overall atmosphere. It's a psychological movie, though visually the movie is also a good one.
The movie features quite some early and variating special effects and other cinematic tricks. It's quite clumsy looking all of course but at least you can say that they really tried and put some effort in it to making something new.
Vincent Price of course always had been at his best in roles such as these, so this movie forms no exception to that. He is highly convincing as the respected magistrate but also as the 'madman'. Two of course total opposite elements, which Price perfectly knows to handle, without ever making anything look ridicules or totally unbelievable.
It's a real surprisingly good and quite different '60's horror flick, that deserves to be seen and known better, starring genre-legend Vincent Price!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
We begin with the end -- the funeral of Magistrate Simon Cordier
(Vincent Price). It was his wish that certain individuals gather after
the funeral, for the opening of a small chest he had entrusted to
Jeanne D'Arville (Elaine Devry). At the D'Arville Gallery, the chest is
opened and they learn that he kept a diary of his last days.
Simon Cordier, was a judge who sentenced a murderer to death -- a man who claimed to have been possessed by the HORLA (an evil spirit) that had driven the man to commit murder. The HORLA then holds Cordier responsible for the death of his slave and reveals that he has chosen Cordier to take his place.
The creature constantly taunts Cordier, breaking him under it's will to kill and commit acts that he had always condemned.
Is he mad? Or is the HORLA real? These questions are the core of the story -- and we are left (along with the mourners at the end) to ponder and answer the question ourselves.
This film was written and produced by Robert E. Kent and adapted from the stories of Guy de Maupassant . This film was done with the same level of quality that Roger Corman would exercise with Price in his adaptations of the stories by Edgar Allen Poe.
I have always considered this to be one of Vincent Price's finest performances.
It is a classic.
I saw this movie on late-night television when I was about 10 years old, just before my bedtime. I couldn't get to sleep! Even through tightly-closed eyelids, I kept seeing images from the movie, floating in the dark. There were several horrific scenes that really stuck with me. After all these years, I still think this is one of the scariest movies I've ever seen. I highly recommend this movie, if you want to spend half the night awake after seeing it!
The late and great comedian Flip Wilson had a sketch he did on his
popular TV show in which, when confronted by tell-tale evidence, he
would look into the camera and exclaim, "The Devil made me do it." In
"Diary of a Madman," Simon Cordier (Vincent Price) attempts to
exonerate himself from murder in flashback fashion with the excuse,
"The Horla made me do it." In Cordier's tale, the evil force manifests
itself to its victims and takes control of their minds. When under the
Horla's powers, the victim's eyes emit a strange light indicative of
possession. The special effects are not bad for 1963 except for this
light which now looks cheap, almost humorous, in execution.
Cordier is a well-respected judge who wants to understand what drives humans to cold-blooded murder. His police friend, Captain Robert Rennedon (Stephen Roberts), has a more pessimistic view of human nature, believing killers are born that way, sort of a bad seed type outlook. When Cordier visits a murderer that he has sentenced to die, the condemned man tells Cordier of the Horla, physically attacks Cordier and in the scuffle the man dies. The Horla leaves the man's body and takes up residence in Cordier. Cordier is advised by his doctor to renew his old hobby of sculpturing to rid himself of his anxiety (caused by the Horla). In the process of obtaining a model for his new endeavor, a beautiful yet crafty and greedy woman, Odette Mallotte DuClasse (Nancy Kovack), enters his life. He falls in love with her not knowing that she is already married to a young artist, Paul (Chris Warfield), who finds it difficult to satisfy her pecuniary needs. The Horla intervenes with other plans for Odette and her husband.
Price, already an established actor for over twenty years, turned more and more to horror films following his success in the 1953 3-D thriller, "House of Wax." Price was no stranger to the genre. One of his first lead roles was in "The Invisible Man Returns" in 1940. Price was such a versatile actor that he did comedy as expertly as he did drama. Most of his exercises in the macabre were played with a tongue-in-cheek rascality that movie goers loved. He became associated with Roger Corman and later with Michael Jackson for his "Thriller" masterpiece.
"Diary of a Madman," loosely based on a story by Guy de Maupassant, is a typical Vincent Price flick from the 1960's with lots to recommend for the lovers of this type horror show. If you are, like me, an avid fan of Vincent Price, it is a must-see.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Personally, this is one of my favorite Vincent Price movies. I think he played what could be construed as a victim of another more diabolical creature. A creature that turned a just, peaceful and artistic gentleman into a mindless killer. I always thought that Price had a great way of playing a suave and sophisticated gentlemen killer and Diary of a Madman is him to perfection. I do not think this is like Jekyll and Hyde for the reason that Dr. Jekyll was experimenting on himself, whereas Price's Judge character was content to do his job and live his life, with only a fascination for how a criminal mind works in relation to his delegating justice. He was a mad who had enough tragedy in his past and wanted to quietly go about his life. The story was excellent and some of the effects weren't too bad either. The cast and the acting were first rate too. Warning spoiler ahead. You didn't need much blood and gore to get the point across in dealing with the murder of Odette DuClass in the story. The point was made by the her head behind the clay.If you weren't a fan of Vincent Price as a sophisticated killer then this movie will help. In spite of being a possessed murderer, you could not help but pull for his character to destroy the Horla.Vincent Price pulled off the role of a good man becoming a possessed killer excellently. This movie shows that you don't need a special effects monsters to have a scary killer.This is one of Price's classic movie roles!
Probably the "magnetic" nature of this movie as referred to above was due solely to acting and as-expected sinister nature of Vincent Price. For me, any movie starring this superb character actor was always a guarantee of my liking it. Noting that several movies with this title have been made, I would like to be able to compare them with this version. Also, in his "genre", Guy De Maupassant could always be relied upon to tell a good story. I have "experienced" quite a few of them, both in movie and written formats. I think that *that* is about all I have to say in this particular instance. To have to write any more would merely constitute "padding". I most certainly would recommend this movie to those viewers who enjoy this type of movie.
This is the type of films that Vincent Price started to appear in when his acting career made a new change and the interest in horror films was a big hit in the 1960's after an all time low. Boris Karloff also had a revival in his career during this period of time. Director, Roger Corman even brought back to the screen Peter Lorre in Edgar Allen Poe's stories. Vincent Price( Simon Cordier) is a kind and fair judge in his local town and meets up with a man who is sentenced to death and this prisoner passes on an evil gift to Simon. Simon even becomes very interested in a model, Nancy Kovack,(Odelle Mallote DuClasse) who poses for Simon. Odelle is a married woman and Simon still hits on her and even wants to marry her. There is a "Horla" involved in this film and sometimes when the actors mentioned this name, it sounded like they were saying whore! This is definitely not one of the greatest horror films, but it is a Classic Price film.
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