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Reginald Le Borg
Loosely based on H.P. Lovecraft's novel THE CASE OF CHARLES DEXTER WARD, this fright flick opens with a warlock placing a curse on a group of villagers about to burn him at the stake. Generations later, the warlock's descendant returns to the village to pick up where his ancestor left off. Written by
Roger Corman directed this film in the midst of his Poe cycle. It has most of the typical features of those films. Lots of eerie atmosphere, swirling fogs, and wonderfully painted back-drops, a fine acting troupe headed by the incomparable Vincent Price, and ably assisted by a sober-looking Lon Chaney Jr. and a beautiful Debra Paget, a fairly tight script, a marvellous score by Ronald Stein, and always the look of a lot of money spent despite the knowledge that you know it was cheaply made. The film is titled based on a small Poe poem found within "The Fall of the House of Usher" and this film has little to do with it. It really is much more of an H. P. Lovecraft film as its main protagonist is called Charles Dexter Ward(Price), but also bears little relation to that great story. It does, however, incorporate many Lovecraftian touches. The names of characters and the town(Arkham) come from the works of Lovecraft, as does the plot thread dealing with an elder god of sorts in a well for the purpose of breeding and the fabled book of supernatural knowledge, the Necromonicon. Despite the complexity and borrowing nature of the script, the story makes sense and is entertaining. Vincent Price plays a man with two personalities, and he does so brilliantly. As always, he is a joy to watch. The rest of the cast is very good. One scene in particular stands out as Price and Paget walk alone in the streets of Arkham only to be slowly surrounded by human mutants. The scene is quite eerie with all its swirling fog, and creeping pace.
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