The Haunted Palace (1963) Poster

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  • The title of The Haunted Palace is taken from a poem by American fantasy/horror writer Edgar Allan Poe [1809-1849] that is part of his story The Fall of the House of Usher, in which the unnamed narrator reads it prior to Madeleine's rise from the grave. However, the film is actually based on a novella, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, written in 1926 by another American author of fantasy and horror, H.P. Lovecraft [1890-1937] and first published in Weird Tales February 1928. Director Roger Corman originally started out making a straight adaptation of Lovecraft's novella but then had the Poe title forced on them by AIP who were seeking to exploit a connection with Corman's other Poe films. The Poe connection is tenuous, referring only to the house as a "palace" brought over from Europe and once the home of the infamous Spanish Inquisitioner Tomás de Torquenada. The village of Arkham is cursed, not haunted. At the end of the movie, Vincent Price gets to quote a couple of lines from Poe's poem in order to justify the connection.

  • Charles Dexter Ward (Vincent Price) is a descendant (great great grandson) of Joseph Curwen (also Vincent Price), a warlock who so angered the townsfolk of Arkham, Massachusetts that they burned him alive in 1765. Before dying, Joseph cursed the five men who burned him as well as the whole town of Arkham, saying he will rise from the grave years later to torment their descendants. Some 110 years later, Charles and his wife Anne (Debra Paget) arrive in Arkham to claim the Curwen estate, and the townsfolk fear that the madness will start all over again.

  • Curwen cursed Ezra Weeden (Leo Gordon), Micah Smith (Elisha Cook Jr.), Priam Willet (Frank Maxwell), Benjamin West (John Dierkes), and Gideon Leach (Guy Wilkerson). Their descendants -- Edgar Weeden, Gideon Smith, Dr Willet, and Misters West and Leach (no first names given) -- are all played by the same actors who played their ancestors.

  • Sure. Gasoline existed before internal-combustion engines, although it wasn't called gasoline. Before 1865 it was known as "petrol." It was used for the treatment of lice and as a cleaning fluid to remove grease stains.

  • No. Lovecraft made up the Necronomicon as a fictional book of the occult, containing rituals that would open the door to the Old Ones, a race of beings from another dimension that once inhabited the earth. It was supposedly written by the "Mad Arab" Abdul Alhazred and was first mentioned in Lovecraft's 1924 short story The Hound. The Necronomicon has been cited in various fantasy/horror stories so many times since Lovecraft fashioned it that many fans believe it to be a real book. Warning: Don't plunk down your life savings for a copy of it.

  • The creature was not identified in the movie. Dr Willet insinuates that Curwen was able to conjure up the Eldergods, "the Dark Ones from beyond who had once ruled the world." He mentions two names: Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth. In Lovecraft's short story, the creature is described as being "called up from imperfect salts" and "not wholly allied to any animal." Cthulhu's name is not mentioned, but Yog-Sothoth appears often in Curwen's chants. Consequently, it's most probable that the creature was either Yog-Sothoth or an offspring of Yog-Sothoth.

  • Cthulhu is a fictional monster that Lovecraft introduced in his short story, The Call of Cthulhu (1928). It is usually described as having a tentacled head, claws, wings, and a large, scaly dragonlike body. Lovecraft refers to it as "the green, sticky spawn of the stars." There have been many artists' renditions of the creature.

  • Yog-Sothoth is another fictional monster dreamed up by Lovecraft and introduced in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. Like Cthulhu, there have been many artists' renditions of the creature, who is said to look like a conglomeration of bubbles.

  • Charles/Joseph tries to send Anne back to Boston, but she enlists Dr Willet's help in an attempt to help her husband. They search through the palace but can't locate Charles until Willet finds a secret door that leads down to a hidden chamber. There, they find an altar holding the Necronomicon and, in a pit beneath the altar, they find a green amorphous creature. Suddenly, Charles appears. Aided by his three assistants -- the caretaker Simon Orne (Lon Chaney Jr.), Jabez Hutchinson (Milton Parsons), and Joseph's newly-resurrected girlfriend Hester Tillinghast (Cathie Merchant) -- Charles binds Anne's arms and prepares to offer her to the creature. Meanwhile, the townfolk decide that it's time to take matters into their own hands when they find Edgar Weeden and Gideon Smith burned to death. They storm the palace and burn the portrait of Joseph Curwen that's hanging over the fireplace. This serves to release Joseph's hold on Charles' body, and Charles make a gallant attempt to set his wife free. Although the palace is quickly becoming engulfed in flames, Willet leads Anne outside and then goes back in for Charles. As Willet and Charles emerge from the burning inferno, Anne rushes to her husband and asks, "Are you sure you're all right?" Charles turns to her with a sinister look in his eyes and says, "Perfectly sure, my dear. Perfectly sure."

  • Yes, here.

  • Those who have both seen the movie and read the novella claim that, if a person comes to this movie hoping to see a good version of Lovecraft's story, s/he will be disappointed. Only the names and the barest outline of the plot genuinely belong to Lovecraft. However, viewers of the movie say that it is still a "good dark spooky night old horror flick!"


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