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This is a compilation of three short films based on Nathaniel Hawthorne
works--Heidegger's Experiment, Rappaccini's Daughter and The House of
Seven Gables. All feature Vincent Price in a lead role. In Heidegger's
Experiment, Dr. Carl Heidegger (Sebastian Cabot), obsessed with his
deceased fiancée for 38 years, discovers a possible fountain of youth.
But will restored youth bring happiness? In Rappaccini's Daughter,
Professor Rappaccini (Price) discovers a "treatment" that will prevent
his daughter from committing or being subjected to the same evils as
his wife. And in The House of Seven Gables, a 150-year-old injustice
leads to a unshakable curse.
First, a "warning" of sorts to potential viewers who are not acclimated to films of bygone eras. When compared to modern horror such as Saw (2004), Twice-Told Tales is relatively slow, talky, stagy, and uneventful. It may even be relatively slow, talky, stagy and uneventful compared to many films of its era. That doesn't mean it isn't a good film. But if you're not acclimated to the style, it takes some getting used to.
It's definitely worth getting used to, because these three short films by director Sidney Salkow are atmospheric, captivating stories, full of horror if you are able to slow yourself down and be absorbed by them. The film's fine technical elements--the sets, costumes, cinematography, lighting, music and so on--help draw one in to the proceedings.
As with most Hawthorne, the stories have strong moral subtexts, often hinging on just deserts for questionable ethical decisions, which are often themselves made with an aim of protecting ethical "purity" in some way. Or in other words, a few bad decisions combined with trying to do the "right thing" often leads to horrifying situations due to a kind of karmic retribution--basically kicking oneself in the bum. There are occasionally innocent parties--such as Rappaccini's daughter, but they tend to be few and far between. Speaking of Rappaccini's Daughter, it's interesting to note that this could easily count as an early sci-fi tale from Hawthorne.
For horror fans, the most important aspect of the film is that Twice-Told Tales' scenarios are macabre and frequently terrifying. Although you certainly shouldn't expect gore in a film like this, there are a few skeletons, crispy critters and a surprising amount of blood in one segment. But gore in itself doesn't necessarily produce the feeling of being horrified, which is more a sinking feeling in the pit of one's stomach at the realization that everything has suddenly gone to hell. Although I agree that gore wouldn't hurt (I'm a big Fangoria fan, too), what creates the horrific in Twice-Told Tales are the impeccably established characters and relationships followed by tragic changes in their relationships. Salkow and the cast slowly but flawlessly build tension in this way, and all of the segments have wonderfully nihilistic endings. Only the House of Seven Gables offers a slight glimpse of hope at the end.
Twice-Told Tales isn't the first compilation film or even the first horror compilation film, but it is one of the earlier, better and influential examples. Salkow's impact on horror wasn't to end here, as he went on to co-direct the excellent Price vehicle The Last Man on Earth in 1964, which was a big influence on subsequent films such as 28 Days Later (2002). He also directed a few episodes of "The Addams Family", before finishing out his career with a few westerns.
Excellent little drive-in thriller thinly disguised as a literary adaption.
Seeing all-time screen scream queen Beverly Garland share the screen with
the master Vincent Price is a joy to fans of hammy acting everywhere!
Richard Denning is also there with very strange hair and his usual straight
Some pretty weird, morbid tales, done with some intelligence while still giveing lots of opportunities for gore of the hanging skeleton variety. I especially liked the second story, with the killer plant, as I thought it was a refreshing idea and that the colors in the garden were quite nice. A worthy competitor to AIP's other excellent trilogies of terror.
Twice-Told Tales is a trio of horror stories based on the writings of
Nathaniel Hawthorne. Each story stars horror maestro Vincent Price, and
this allows the man to show his range in a series of different roles
throughout the film. All of Price's roles allow him to show his dark
side, but it's the way that he is allowed to show this that makes each
one stand out. Vincent Price is my favourite horror actor, and he's
arguably the best ever. The fact that he stars in each segment of this
film is reason enough alone to see it. The fact that every tale is good
is another one. In true omnibus style, the first story is the least
memorable; but it's still well worth seeing. We follow two friends who
discover a virgin spring in the crypt of one of their loves. This story
is good because it follows the ever-present dream of ever-lasting life.
The way that the plot builds is somewhat predictable, but still good as
we get to see the great horror master turn his performance around from
do-gooder to something more sinister. Not the best opener to an omnibus
film; but a long way from the worst.
The second story is by far the best and, in a way, it's a shame that this story was a part of the omnibus. The second tale is a fairytale horror story of love, protection and madness and follows the tale of an overbearing father that takes steps to ensure that his daughter doesn't sin like her mother did. This story is a variation on the classic 'Romero and Julliet' story, and takes in all the tragedy of that tale by its conclusion. Tale number two is highly original and would make this film worth viewing even if the other two tales were absolute rubbish (which, of course, they're not). The third and final segment is the weakest of the trio, but still manages an excellent Gothic style and a solid story. The reason it's the weakest is mainly because it's really slow; but once it gets started, this tale of greed, witchcraft and murder provides a satisfying end to this trio of stories. With a running time of two hours, Twice-Told Tales is a very long omnibus; and it could have done with being a bit shorter. However, this doesn't harm it too much, and if you're a fan of sixties horror, and/or Vincent Price, this will be a must see.
I may not be very objective in reviewing this movie, because I've seen it for the first time when I was young and was very impressed then, an impression, which one doesn't forget of course... I still love it, each time when I see it again, because of the three intelligent stories (one about an elixir of life and a tragic love triangle, one about a poison which separates two lovers, and one about a haunted house), which of course in view of the movie's age don't contain splatter elements but unfold a subtle horror and especially because of the atmosphere with the wonderful kitschy set and colors, which gives the movie, beside of the dated special effects, the typical and irresistible charm of old trash...
In "Twice-Told Tales", Vincent Price does what he does best: be
mysterious. He appears in three macabre stories. In the first, he plays
a man helping another man try to resurrect his dead fiancée. In the
second, he plays a man who has a most unusual relationship with his
plants. In the third...well, let's just say that there's a dark old
house (you can figure it out from there).
I try to imagine being a horny teenager going to see these movies back when they were first released. This would have been the perfect movie to see while on a date with a girl. Thank God that even in the darkest days of "family fun", you could always count on Vincent Price!
"Twice-Told Tales" is a movie composed of three timeless shorts based
on horror tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne with Vincent Price.
(1) "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment": In 1859, Alex Medbourne (Vincent Price) and Dr. Carl Heidigger (Sebastian Cabot) have been best friends for decades. Carl has been grieving the loss of his beloved bride Sylvia Ward (Mari Blanchard) for thirty-eight years, on the eve of their wedding, and misses her. In a stormy night, her crypt opens and Carl and Alex find her corpse preserved. Carl notes a drop of liquid on her coffin and he collects a sample. Carl discovers that the water is a virgin spring and he restores his and Alex's youths. Further, he resurrects Sylvia with the water and plans to immediately marry her. However, he discovers a dark secret about Alex and his beloved Sylvia.
This is a tragic and dramatic story about the dream of the fountain of youth and restoration of the eternal youth, obsession and betrayal, with great special effects for a 1963 movie.
(2) "Rappaccini's Daughter": In Padua, the young Giovanni Guasconti (Brett Halsey) meets the gorgeous Beatrice Rappaccini (Joyce Taylor) in the garden and they immediately fall in love for each other. However, Giovanni learns that Beatrice is cursed, poisoning everyone and everything that she touches with her hands. Further, she was inoculated with a potion of poisonous plants by her insane father, the brilliant scientist Dr. Giacomo Rappaccini (Vincent Price) that wants to avoid that she makes the same mistakes her mother did, abandoning him. Giovanni meets Dr. Giacomo and opens his heart about his love for Beatrice, and the scientist promises to let him be closed to Beatrice forever.
This is another tragic and dramatic story about impossible love and madness visibly inspired in "Romeo and Juliet".
(3) "The House of the Seven Gables": In 1841, Gerald Pyncheon (Vincent Price) arrives with his wife Alice Pyncheon (Beverly Garland) to The House of the Seven Gables, where Gerald's sister Hannah Pyncheon (Jacqueline deWit) lives. The Pyncheon family has been cursed for one hundred and fifty years, when the blacksmith Mathew Maulle (Floyd Simmons) was murdered and buried below the house. Gerald comes to the house to seek a vault with the family fortune, and Alice is haunted by ghosts in the moment that she arrives in the house.
This is another tragic story of greed, injustice and curse, with an ambitious man returning to the family house and awaking powerful forces from the past.
My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Nos Domínios do Terror" ("In the Domain of the Terror")
Note: On 12 April 2015, I saw this movie again.
Nathaniel Hawthorne is not Edgar Allan Poe. His stories do contain elements of horror and terror, but much of it is fodder for the religious symbolism that tears through much of his work. That being said, some will find the three tales used in Twice-Told Tales comparitively slow to those of Poe. What they lack in speed, however, they more than make up for in thematic exploration, symbolic meanings, and suspenseful pacing. The first story is Dr. Heidegger's experiment. Vincent Price and Sebastion Cabot play two very old friends that get together on the good doctor's birthday. Both men talk about the harsh realities of growing old, but Cabot talks of his growing old more as a means to be with the one he loved so many years ago, the woman who died on their day to be wed, and now reposes in a crypt nearby outside. A storm opens the crypt, the two men investigate and find that the body of the girl has not aged at all thanks to some trickling water that seems to keep it in its natural state upon death. The doctor takes the water and experiments with its powers on himself, his friend, and the corpse. The end result becomes Hawthorne's look at human beings...given a second chance. Would they change or do the things that brought them unhappiness any different? The story, although changed greatly from the original Hawthorne story, is visualized very nicely with Price turning in one of his more subtle performances and Cabot doing a splendid job. The second story is Rappicinni's Daughter. It tells of a girl that has been altered by her scientist father to not touch any living thing. This way she will always be pure....innocent of the evils of men and, in particular, unknown to the touch of men. The story is highly symbolic and beautifully directed. Price plays the scientist who specializes in plants of unknown origins. A well-crafted selection to be sure. The third story is easily the weakest because it tries cramming a novel into an anthology sized space. The House of the Seven Gables tells of sins of a past family against another and how these sins have been borne by the family manse. Some of the special effects here are rather good, but the acting by Richard Denning and Beverly Garland is not so good. Price carries the segment with his slightly over-the-top performance and a real acting gem is given by Jacqueline de Wit as his sister. All in all, the three tales are very representative of Hawthorne's unique vision, his religious background, and taut narration. This is a good film, but it's not a Poe film...once that is realized maybe some viewers can appreciate it on its own merits rather than a constant intentional or unintentional comparison to the king of horror.
The second story is the best, but the first one is good. If you watch this
movie, do not bother viewing the third one, which is a shortened version of
"The House of Seven Gables" with Vincent Price in the villain role [he was
the hero in the much superior 1940 version].
Other good things about this movie are the music and the sets [especially in the first tale].
Episodic films, such as this one are not always winners. At times they feel like there wasn't enough material for a feature, so they kind of flubbed it. I'm mainly thinking of films like "Four Rooms" and others along those lines. I think the horror genre is the exception to this rule(think "Tales from the Crypt" (1972) and "Creepshow" (1982)). With "Twice-Told Tales" there are three stories to enjoy and there's a fair chance that at least two of the three will excite your imagination. The first is a story about friendship, love, and immortality. The third is a variation on the old haunted house seen in many old chillers. The second, and my favorite of the three, is just so twisted I don't know if anything can be said about it to not spoil it for you. Here's an attempt ... it's an extreme version of Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" 'A'. Well worth a look!
Trio of horror stories based on works of Nathaniel Hawthorne. The first
story is "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment," about two elderly friends, Dr.
Carl Heidegger (Sebastian Cabot) and Alex Medbourne (Vincent Price) who
discover magical water that they use to become young again. Heidegger
decides to use the water on the corpse of his long-dead love Sylvia
(Mari Blanchard), with surprising results. The second story is
"Rappaccini's Daughter." Giovanni Guasconti (Brett Halsey) falls in
love with beautiful Beatrice Rappaccini (Joyce Taylor) at first sight.
Beatrice is the daughter of scientist Giacomo Rappaccini (Vincent
Price) and, much to Giovanni's horror, her father has injected her with
plant toxins that make her deadly to touch. The third, and most famous,
story is "The House of the Seven Gables." Gerald Pyncheon (Vincent
Price) returns to his ancestral home with his new bride (Beverly
Garland). Ignoring warnings of a family curse he scours the house
looking for a treasure reportedly buried somewhere inside.
All of these stories are loosely adapted from Nathaniel Hawthorne stories. The segments are of varying quality but they are all watchable and enjoyable enough. The first story is probably my favorite, helped in large part by Sebastian Cabot's sensitive portrayal of Heidegger. The second is my least favorite and the third is OK. Price is in all three and, as usual, is excellent. Price was also in the 1940 film adaptation of "The House of Seven Gables." It was far superior to this version so please check it out if you can. Twice-Told Tales is an enjoyable time-killer but nothing exceptional. Vincent Price fans will love it more than most.
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