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Haunting Tale of Mystery
JamesHitchcock18 August 2005
"The Tomb of Ligeia" was one of a cycle of films made by Roger Corman in the sixties based on the works of Edgar Allen Poe. Verden Fell, an English country gentleman of the 1820s has become obsessed with his dead wife Ligeia. Indeed, although she has been buried in a tomb he built for her, he believes that she is not dead but has, as she promised she would, survived death in some form and will return to him. This obsession survives Fell's remarriage to Rowena, the daughter of a neighbouring landowner. Indeed, his obsession worsens, as he comes to believe that Rowena is possessed by Ligeia's spirit.

This is an unusual horror film in that much of it takes place not only outdoors but also in daylight. The sort of images of ruin and decay traditional in horror films- Fell lives in a gloomy, crumbling, cobwebbed manor house close to the ruins of a mediaeval abbey- are contrasted with sunlit scenes of the beautiful, verdant English countryside. The difference between life and death is the central idea of the film- which ends with a quote from Poe himself: "The boundaries which divide life from death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends and where the other begins"- so this contrast is possibly symbolic, with the outdoor scenes symbolising life and the indoor ones death. The two main female characters (both played by the same actress, Elizabeth Shepherd) are differentiated in a similar manner. Rowena is a healthy-looking, "English Rose" type blonde with a love of outdoor pursuits, especially hunting. Ligeia is dark haired and gaunt with an unhealthy pallor.

Like many films of this period, and unlike later films such as "The Exorcist", this is an example of an understated horror film, with the horror mostly being implied rather than shown directly. Ligeia makes an appearance in the film, but we are never sure whether this is really her ghost returning from the grave or a hallucination conjured up by Fell's distraught mind. Although it is understated, however, it is genuinely frightening, not because of Exorcist-style special effects, but because of the eerie mood that Corman is able to create. Apart from the atmospheric setting, various objects take on a sinister significance- a bunch of flowers, a dead fox and, most of all, a mysterious, malevolent black cat which may be the reincarnation of Ligeia's soul, or may be just a cat.

The acting is also very good, especially from Shepherd in the dual role of Rowena/Ligeia and from Vincent Price as Fell. In a way this is also a dual role, as there are two separate aspects to Fell's character. On the one hand he is sinister and frightening, the man who threatens Rowena's happiness, her sanity and even her life. (The adjective "fell" significantly means cruel or fierce). On the other hand he is a pitiable character, a victim of his own obsessions and (possibly) also of his late wife's ghost. This duality is very much in keeping with the mood of the film, which is one of ambiguity and doubt. As befits one based upon the work of Poe, it is a tale of mystery and imagination. 7/10
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Very moody and stylish.
barnabyrudge9 September 2003
I was asked recently if I could name any genuinely scary films made before The Exorcist in 1973. The only titles I could come up with were Rosemary's Baby and Night of the Living Dead from the late '60s. I could suggest many horror titles made before 1970, but none were genuinely flesh-crawling enough to make the list. At the time, I had not seen The Tomb of Ligeia. Now I have seen it and, wow! This is one seriously under-rated gem.

It is one of the many Roger Corman films from this era based on an Edgar Allan Poe story. Intelligently scripted by Robert Towne, and acted to perfection by Vincent Price and Elisabeth Shepherd, this film is a treat from start to finish. Shepherd plays a well-to-do lady in Victorian England who falls in love with a mysterious loner (Price) who resides in a crumbling abbey and seems haunted by memories of his previous (now-dead) wife Ligeia. She marries Price, but her chances of love are blighted by spooky happenings which may be the work of the ghost of his jealous ex-bride.

The dream sequence, featuring a dead fox hidden in a bouquet of flowers and a terrifying metamorphosis midway through a passionate kiss, is a marvellous and memorable scene. All scenes featuring the weird black cat are eerily effective. There's also a wonderfully creepy hypnotism episode. The photography is lovely, with colourful outdoor lensing of a real English abbey and superb blending of light and shadows during the ghostly indoor sequences.

So, if you're after a truly spine-tingling film from before 1970 - here you go!
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Corman finally brings a Poe film outdoors.
capkronos30 December 2003
Well, at least for a little while! His last of eight Poe films as director is (loosely) based on the Poe work of the same name and is a solid metaphorical ghost story. Lady Rowena (the wonderful Elizabeth Shepherd) falls in love with Verden Fell (Vincent Price) despite his strange behavior and questionable past. Soon after their marriage, he starts disappearing, she's menaced by that old Poe stand-by (the evil black cat) and plagued by horrific nightmares involving Verden's deceased former wife Ligeia (also played by Shepherd), whose ghost seems intent on ruining the union. Price, in top hat and strange sunglasses in many scenes (his vision being "dangerously acute"), seems a bit too old for the role, but still manages to come through with an effective performance. Corman has always been underrated for effectively capturing period detail on a limited budget and it's his keen eye for the crumbling ruins, lush green countrysides, oceanfronts and shadowy castle corridors that make much of this film work. Screenplay by future Oscar-winner Robert Towne (CHINATOWN). LIGEIA was Corman's last horror film as director until 1990's FRANKENSTEIN UNBOUND.
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The best of the Corman Poe's.
mjecornah11 May 2000
There is an assumption among movie fans that the longer a movie series exists, the worse the later films will be. Although the films Roger Corman made of some of the stories of Edgar Allan Poe began well and continued with no obvious sense of decline, it is my opinion that the best was kept for last. The most overtly spectacular film in the series was 'The Masque of the Red Death' with its fine sense of colour and effective sense of homage to Ingmar Bergman's 'The Seventh Seal'. I have always enjoyed this film and in terms of a deliberate departure from the series norm, it is exceptional. However one enjoys any series for the familiar as well as the unusual, and in this respect 'The Tomb of Ligeia' is the most memorable for me in the way it builds upon and enhances what has gone on in previous films. The logical departure from the previous films which had been (very happily and effectively) studio-bound, was to move to location. Corman's choice of Castle Acre Priory in Norfolk, was an inspired one. An large amount of location filming was done there and this grounded the film in a realistic (yet unusual)setting. Gone were the fog machines and 'blasted heath' effects of 'House of Usher' and 'The Premature Burial'. Many critics have mentioned their disquiet at the absence of Barbara Steele, at that time undoubtedly the actress most associated with this type of picture. Wonderful though Miss Steele was in, say, the last thirty minutes of 'The Pit and the Pendulum', I feel that the presence of the English actress, Elizabeth Sheppard, adds to the sense of realisim, while taking little away from the shock effect of one actress playing both a good and an evil role. Roger Corman is on record as saying that he had to keep a written record as to when Rowena was herself and when she was Ligeia. All I can say that it is happily obvious on the screen when each side of the romantic coin is in evidence. I think that Elizabeth Sheppard's performance, grounded in reason, and when added to the inevitable polish that was being obtained by this stage in the series, showed a welcome extra sense of belief, to point out the advances and progression that had been made by this, the last film, in the series. Two scenes stand out : the entrapment of Rowena in the bell tower by the black cat (representing Ligeia.) I am also very impressed by Rowena's hynotism ; first to her own childhood and then to the persona of Ligeia. This film has not been available for viewing in the UK for many years. It is to be hoped that this situation will be reversed before long. I remember with affection the moment when great talents (from both sides of the 'pond') collaborated with great effcetiveness to come up with the ultimate 'Corman Classic'.
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Stylish but ponderous
Hermit C-231 July 1999
"Ligeia" is one of my very favorite E.A. Poe stories, a masterpiece of suspense that doesn't reveal its secret until the very last word. Like a lot of Poe's stories, however, the transformation to the screen isn't always an easy one. A great deal of the action in the short story takes place in the narrator's head, and to make a feature length movie out of it there must be some added action and characters.

The screenwriter here, Robert Towne, would go on to bigger and better things and garner fame and awards while doing it. But this early script of his is a rather modest one. The action drags more and more as the film goes on and the sense of horror and tension dissipates rather than builds as the film progresses. Plus there's that annoying black cat (left over from another Poe story, perhaps?)

What points this movie does get are for style. Roger Corman wasn't a schlock director by any means; he had a great eye and and gave his films a distinctive look and feel. The cast is a very good one as well. Vincent Price does the usual fine job we expect from him and I liked actress Elizabeth Shepard as the Lady Rowena, Price's wife who succeeds Ligeia. I wasn't familiar with her before seeing this movie and I found her very watchable. But 'The Tomb of Ligeia' is hardly classic Poe or a memorable horror film. But fans of Corman and the Hammer Films type of productions may want to see it.
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builds scarily
christopher-underwood18 January 2009
Very fine Poe adaptation. I had always reckoned Masque of the Red Death, from the same period to be far superior, but not so. Viewed again this is very well put together, especially the first half, which is really only setting the scene for the Poe tale to be told. Not quite as stylish as the aforementioned film, this is still, nevertheless, possessed of a very strong dream like quality and builds scarily as doors rattle, animals squawk and the inevitable black cat scrambles, leaps and screeches. Wonderful setting of Castle Acre Priory helps give the film greater authenticity and Corman mixes the Shepperton Studio interiors well with the beautiful Norfolk countryside and the marvellous grandiose priory remains. I don't know why the tomb of the title had to be so shining white and new looking but never mind, a really good Corman outing with excellent performances from Price and the leading lady Elizabeth Shepherd, who regrettably seems to have otherwise worked almost exclusively in television. She has real presence here in a double role successfully mixing the seductiveness of Lady Rowena and the satanic steel of Ligeia.
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Corman at his most POEtic and stylish best
matheusmarchetti30 July 2010
"Tomb of Ligeia" was the last of Corman's popular Edgar Allan Poe adaptations of the 60's. Because of how it's totally different in style from the previous entries in the series, many have deemed it as an inferior effort, though I personally think it's the total opposite. There's no doubt in my view that "Ligeia" is Corman's finest Poe adaptation. All the flaws present in his earlier films (even in the more well praised "Masque of the Red Death"), that have become even more visible with aging, have served as a lesson as to what not to do, and are thankfully not present here. The most effective change was the change of setting. Instead of using painted backdrops posing and excessive sound stage interiors posing as European settings, this one was actually filmed on-location in the British countryside, with studio indoors scenes kept to a minimum. The gorgeously photographed exterior locations, with the dark and imposing ruins clashing against the peaceful, idyllic nature surroundings, add immensely to the film's brooding Gothic atmosphere, and it's a real shame it wasn't used more often in other films of the same period. Not since Jean Epstein's haunting "Fall of the House of Usher" in 1928, has Poe's style been so faithfully adapted to the silver screen. This is mostly due to Corman's stylish and original direction, an intelligent script by Robert Towne (of "Chinatown" fame) and to Vincent Price's acting. Without resorting to over-the-top melodramatic gestures (as seen in 1961's "Pit and the Pendulum"), Price plays to perfection a suave, mysterious, eerily seductive and haunted lead - the ultimate Poe lead, and one of his best performances, up there with his work in "Witchfinder General". Elizabeth Sheppard, whom you might remember as the doomed journalist from "Damien: Omen II", is equally effective as the female lead, both as Ligeia and Lady Rowena. As Rowena, Sheppard doesn't go for your typical 'damsel in distress' performance as it could've been, and plays as a much stronger willed, not so innocent, independent, yet likable character. Though her role as creepy raven-haired Ligeia has less screen time, she does manage to leave an impression, and manages to be genuinely creepy. Another bonus is the surreal dream sequence that happens somewhere in the middle of the film. A trademark Corman treat, this scene is filled with vivid colors, brilliantly otherworldly camera-work and bizarre, nightmarish imagery, it's one of the film's scariest moments, and also one of the director's most memorable set pieces. Also, I love the subtly creepy and disturbingly poetic approach Towne and Corman take at the controversial necrophilia subplot. This subject matter would get an equally elegant treatment 10 years later in Mario Bava's "Lisa and the Devil". The film's flaws come basically from the final confrontation between Price and Sheppard, which comes back as a more typical Corman-ending-to-a-Poe-film, coming off as a bit anti-climatic, considering how much build up there was it. Nevertheless, it's fun and stylish, even if it's slightly campy tone doesn't match the otherwise seriousness of all that came after. Overall, an exquisite Gothic gem from the 60's, and essential viewing for fans of the genre. Even if you're not a fan of the director's work, do check it out, as it might as well come off as a pleasant surprise. 9.5/10
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"The eyes, they confound me… they do not readily yield up the mystery"
ackstasis27 September 2009
Roger Corman is often celebrated for his economies, but nobody ever told me that he was also a wonderful cinematic craftsman. 'The Tomb of Ligeia (1964)' is my second Corman film (after the throwaway cheapie 'The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)'), and I'm now intrigued by the prospect of seeing his other Edgar Allan Poe-inspired creations. Horror maestro Vincent Price stars as Verden Fell, a wealthy widower who becomes obsessed by the possibility that his deceased wife somehow survives. Inexplicably drawn to Verden's sinister charms, the lovely Lady Rowena (Elizabeth Shepherd) agrees to marry him. However, on their wedding night, she is tormented by the memory of her predecessor, who seemingly takes the form of an ominous black cat. Though one could argue that nothing much happens in this film, it is nevertheless exceedingly dense with atmosphere, almost stiflingly so, every frame an overwhelming banquet of garish colours. The darkness of the nighttime is vividly punctuated by the gleaming scarlet of blood, hellish yellow flames, and an invisible black enemy that skulks in the shadows.

While I don't expect that 'The Tomb of Ligeia' stays particularly close to the original story, the screenplay from Robert Towne (later to write 'Chinatown (1974)') emulates the gloomy Gothic overtones of classic Poe. Discomfort is gleaned, not only from the dialogue, but the silences between words. Not that Verden Fell is not given his fair share of dialogue; the film is so apparently entranced by the dark, charismatic tones of Price's voice that he often breaks off into superb, meandering monologues that give voice to the obvious. Not that the audience is complaining, of course – the way Price presents himself to the camera, with complete and utter conviction, is mesmerising. While the film, of course, owes a debt to Poe's literature, it is also an expansion of the Gothic melodrama sub-genre of the 1940s. Consider Hitchcock's 'Rebecca (1940),' in which young innocent Joan Fontaine is plagued by the "ghost" of her husband's previous wife; or Mankiewicz's 'Dragonwyck (1946),' which finds Gene Tierney harassed by her mentally deranged husband – played, appropriately, by Vincent Price.
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Corman's best?
didi-59 June 2003
Of all the collaborations between director Roger Corman and sensuous, creepy actor Vincent Price, this is probably their best. There's the small cast of characters, mainly Ligeia, buried in a marble tomb in the grounds of a sinister old abbey, Rowena, a lady horserider looking for someone she can be 'drawn' to who is more interesting than her beau Christopher, and Verdon, Ligeia's bereaved husband, with his black shades and mood swings. There's also a cat. And this cat is really the true star of the film, watching, attacking, influencing.

The film benefits from its heavy use of locations, and makes it stand apart from the studio interiors of other adaptations. This is a decadent, decaying England with strange happenings and curses. It is a superb film, and lifts the Shepperton Poe adaptations to a new level.
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A tragic romance story
Giallo196329 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I wanted to get more familiar with horror movies from the 60's and I couldn't find a better reason than Edgar Allan Poe adaptions. It is a decision I am glad to have taken, because I am now familiar with Vincent Price and Roger Corman. I was mesmerized by Vincent Price playing Verden Fell, I thought he was so smooth, so elegant in his portrayal of the character yet he gave off vibes of tragedy and sadness that was pretty intriguing and immersing. But he also gave a vibe of brutishness that felt like it was well hidden beneath his elegant and well-spoken exterior. Verden Fell is a deliciously mysterious and complex character. I have not read the short-story yet, but I feel the story was adapted pretty well. It was dark, poetic, romantic and tragic. It felt like Poe. With the horror of the story slowly unfolding as the movie progresses. I gotta say, Roger Corman did a good job introducing the characters first then slowly set out the plot which I feel made the impact of the story stronger. Also quite a story! It makes me wonder what horrors went inside the head of Edgar Allan Poe. The great, dark poet.

Director: Roger Corman; writers: Robert Towne and Paul Mayersberg; based on Edgar Allan Poe's short story "Ligeia"; Year of release: 1964; Starring: Vincent Price and Elizabeth Shepherd; themes: Jealousy, possessiveness and obsession. I must also mention Elizabeth Shepherd as Rowena Trevanion/Ligeia, I felt she played her characters pretty well. She was both vulnerable but still without being such a damsel-in-distress as Rowena. There was adequate reason for Rowena to be curious about her husband's odd behavior. Which made for an interesting drama between the two main characters. She also portrayed Ligeia with a strange fury yet authority you could see why a character such as Verden would be under her control. Verden was an intelligent yet torn man, torn between two worlds: that of Ligeia and the one he is trying to live in. Ligeia sounds like a cruel woman, putting a spell upon Verden before she died. Which is by the way a reflection of man's jealousy and possessive nature. Ligeia might have gone but she held so dearly onto Verden she did such a cruel thing. It can also be a representation of man's refusal to move on with his life, after the loss of a dear one.

I have not read the short story yet, but I have read some of Poe's stories and I gotta say it is a memorable adaption that is full of gloom, dread and tragedy. 9/10
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"Edgar Allan Poe's The Tomb of Ligeia???"
Janine-211 March 2003
Warning: Spoilers
<spoilers herein!>

In the opening credits this film is presented as "Edgar Allan Poe's The Tomb of Ligeia."

The only similarities I can note between Poe's story and Corman's movie are: a dead raven-haired beauty and a blonde Lady Rowena, both of whom our narrator (and Verdon, in the film) did love. The similarities do end there.

In the story, we see things from the narrator's point of view. We see his love for and obsession with Ligeia. When she dies, he is deeply saddened, yet remarries. His new wife is a fair Lady Rowena. Lady Rowena appears to be a much obliging wife, but our narrator is tormented by her. Soon Lady Rowena becomes very ill, and dies. Or so we think. Ligeia is reborn from the dead Lady Rowena.

In the film "The Tomb of Ligeia," it begins with the funeral of Lady Ligeia. Verdon (Price) refuses to believe that she is dead. The whole thing seems a little silly, why is he giving her a funeral and large headstone if she is not really dead?

Eventually he falls in love with the fair-haired Lady Rowena. They met when she stumbled upon Lady Ligeia's grave. Rowena is haunted by the memory of Ligeia... she never falls ill. Therefore, the shocking and oddly beautiful rebirth scene never takes place in the movie as it does in Poe's story. Instead there is a very confusing scene where Verdon is strangling Lady Rowena and Lady Ligeia, but they seem to be the same person. They switch back and forth a few times: "But I knew it was not Rowena's body, but Ligeia's!" And Verdon goes up in flames with the body of Ligeia. The only idea the audience has of Ligeia and Vernon's relationship was that it was a morbid and unhappy one. Meanwhile Lady Rowena has come back to life, riding away from Verdon's home with an old friend.

It does seem to be a bit of a hint that the movie will not be at all true that the title is "The Tomb of Ligeia." Poe never wrote a story of that title. "Ligeia" was part of the trilogy of stories about beloved wimmin that fell ill, including "Bernice" and "Morella." All three are beautiful stories. I would be much more likely to spend my 81 minutes reading them than watching that film. Of course, if you are looking for a good Vincent Price movie, "The Tomb of Ligeia" is not your worst bet... but not your best either.
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Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
radiobirdma24 September 2016
If you want to know why Ligeia is the most Hammer-esque of Roger Corman's Poe adaptations, check cinematographer Arthur Grant's records, among them The Devil Rides Out and Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed. The splendid photography alone makes the last entry in the series a standout, along with Kenneth V. Jones's lush, pseudo-Victorian score. Enter Corman/ Poe regular Vincent Price, this time an amateur egyptologist living in a decaying abbey mourning his deceased ex and soon after falling in love with a blonde lookalike of his dead spouse – who acts out her jealousy in feline form. All-too-conscious of not being in a Poe story, but in a delirium fusion of Vertigo and Rebecca, Price plays his perv Maxim de Winter/ Norfolk Necrophiliac role with a tongue-in-cheek aplomb Laurence Olivier garnered not until eight years later in Joseph L. Mankiewicz's Sleuth, and wait until Vince gets in cat chasing mood. Though a bit convoluted, Ligeia is morbid, meow & kinky fun, actually Corman's last noteworthy movie as a director (next was his racist swastika biker dreck The Wild Angels). And the darn critter? Moved on to Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento flicks. That's called Hello Kitty déjà-vu.
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admirable work
Kirpianuscus24 October 2017
Poe, Corman and Price. and an almost predictable result of this collaboration. because all remains impressive. the script, the acting, the atmosphere, the cinematography. so, not surprises. only a horror as example of admirable old fashion recipe. because it is more than an excellent adaptation. it is an impressive show, seductive, ambiguous, preserving the flavor of the abbey and the mystery in elegant and subtle manner. so, a real good film. with many chance for become memorable for the viewer.
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He Always Gets the Girl
Hitchcoc14 October 2015
These Poe adaptations by Roger Corman are always fun. Vincent Price is a hoot in this one. As is the case with most of these protagonist, he is in perpetual agony. Here he has over sensitive eyes (in other films, it is his hearing). He frequently visits the tomb of his late wife, Ligeia. She was a raven haired beauty who led him by the nose. There is something strange about the tomb and about her death. Enter a pretty blonde lady of a chance taking spirit. For some reason she falls in love with this nut. He is spooky and almost strangles her at one point. But she is determined. The problem is that she is in competition with the dead ex. An issue I have with this film is how rambling the ending is. It goes on for the longest time. Obviously, it is about transmigration. By the way, what's with the fire that happens to be burning in the house. Is it a big fireplace or did I miss something? Anyway, it is always a pleasure to observe the perpetually pained Price mug and emote for the camera.
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A horror to watch
Thomas_S21 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I had programmed the video recorder to tape this film, but the first 10 or 15 minutes were missing for some reason. When I had seen the rest of the film, I realised that this mistake had saved me from wasting another 15 minutes.

If you're afraid of black cats, then this film is for you. Showing a black cat that jumps in the face of people and otherwise behave in a most 'un-catly' way is at the centre of the strategy for scaring you. As a cat lover, I hate seeing people throwing things after cats or telling staff to destroy them, by the way.

A lot has been done to create a scary atmosphere in the abbey, but yet it still failed completely on me for some reason. If a film repeatedly reminds me that this is going on in a studio set, then something is wrong.

I even guessed some of their surprises, without ever having heard of this film or book before. When Ligeia is shown being suffocated, I just knew that we would see that it was Rowena having been suffocated the next moment.

There is nothing really scary about this film, although it looks like it was intended to. The horror comes when you realise how much time you have wasted watching it.
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My Least Favorite of the Corman Poes I've Seen
gavin694226 September 2010
Verden Fell (Vincent Price) was married to a demon woman, Ligeia, and even after death she haunts him. When he takes a new wife, Rowena, things quickly go very badly for both of them as Ligeia begins to possess Fell's new love.

This was the last of Roger Corman's "Poe" series, and although considered his best by some, I found it highly lackluster. Perhaps it is because Richard Matheson was not responsible for the script? I do not know, but as good as this one was, it just fell short for me.

Vincent Price is, of course, good as always. Is he ever less than the best? But the credit here should go to Elizabeth Shepherd, who played both Ligeia and Rowena. I honestly could not tell they were the same actress until the credits, and that says something for the makeup department, but also Shepherd's ability to command range of personality within a single film. She deserves to be better known.

Ivan Butler shares my sense of doubt when he says the film is "a falling off from its predecessor" and "the epic sense of grandeur and doom may be missing". He goes on to praise the film, more so for its deep psychological implications and what he sees as an homage to Cocteau.

Howard Thompson in the New York Times of May 6, 1965 wrote that "these low-budget shockers generally evoke a compelling sense of heady atmosphere and coiled doom in their excellent Gothic settings, arresting color schemes and camera mobility... Mr. Corman has made stunning, ambient use of his authentic setting, an ancient abbey in Norfolk, England, and the lovely countryside. The picture is not nearly as finished as Masque of the Red Death... But the Corman climate of evil is as unhealthy and contagious as ever." That sums up the film in a manner far better than I could.
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man has trouble keeping his old lady in her place...the crypt
helpless_dancer1 October 1999
Fairly good picture filmed in a beautiful old ruin. This one followed pretty close to several other of these Poe tales in that it had the lightning storm, the nutty castle owner, and the burning stone domicile which mysteriously turns to wood after catching on fire. Also had one of the baddest black cats around. And those wigs! Price's was bad, but the woman's! They couldn't even match it to her hair color. Not to bad, but a bit low key except at the end. Could have been scarier.
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Corman, Price and Poe team up and deliver another classic film!
The_Void2 February 2005
The Tomb of Ligeia sets itself apart from the rest of Roger Corman's Poe cycle because much of the tale takes place outdoors. It's almost strange to see a Poe story set outside as we're so used to seeing them set in grand, lavish indoor locations - but I'm all for changes, so it was a welcome change as far as I'm concerned. It's not all change, however, as The Tomb of Ligeia features many of the aspects that Poe has become famous for writing, including such lovely themes as a black cat, hypnosis and being buried alive. The story itself falls somewhere between a psychological thriller and a Gothic horror story and it follows Verden Fell, who is played by the one and only Vincent Price. Verden is bereaved after the death of his beloved wife, Ligeia and has become so obsessed with his loss that he has decided to dress in black and wear dark sunglasses at all times, especially while visiting the lady's tomb. When he meets Lady Rowena Trevanion and decides to marry her, things should get better for our hero, but it's to the contrary as he begins to believe that the soul of his dead wife is inhabiting his new one! And what's the deal with that black cat...

The Tomb of Ligeia is Poe at his most malicious and sickening and that is evident when the final twist is revealed. Roger Corman's Poe films are such a delight to view because he has a great respect for his subject material and that translates to the screen excellently and with the exception of his rather silly (but good) take on 'The Raven', you get the impression that the stories are portrayed how Poe intended them. Vincent Price fits into that equation also, and it is unimaginable to see anyone else playing the roles that Vincent Price has done so well in many horror films. His performance in this film is a cross between the pathetic characters that he played in films such as "The Fall of the House of Usher" and the more malevolent, evil men he played in films like "The Masque of the Red Death". The performance bodes very well with the premise of the movie, and Vincent Price proves that he able to play a range of emotions on screen. Also impressing in the film is Elizabeth Shepherd, who delivers two excellent performances as both the Lady Ligeia and Lady Rowena Trevanion.

The Tomb of Ligeia isn't the best film in Corman's Poe cycle, but it's certainly up there with the best. This is one of the more rare films in the cycle, and thus it doesn't garner as much praise as some of the others. However, you shouldn't let that put you off as Ligeia is highly recommended!
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Stylish...but NOTHING HAPPENS!!!!
preppy-313 September 2004
In Victorian England Verden Fell (Vincent Price) is obsessed with his dead wife Ligeia. He meets and falls in love with Rowena (Elizabeth Shepherd). She helps him get over his obsession and they get married. But it seems Ligeia's evil spirit is alive and refuses to let Verden go...

The last of Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe series starring Vincent Price. It's beautifully filmed in England and has some beautiful settings--but (like the rest of the Poe series) nothing really happens. It's a 30 minute movie stretched out to 90 minutes. To pad the movie there are countless times Verden goes on and on about Leiga; Rowena has at least TWO long, pointless dream sequences and she also walks around the spooky house at night a number of times.

What prevents this from being totally boring is the cinematography, the acting by Price and Shepherd (both are great), beautiful costumes and sets, a few nice shock cuts and a very lively ending. But really-nothing happens until the end. Still this is worth seeing for horror fans. And, for a Roger Corman film, this is pretty restrained.
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The weakest of the Poe films
apenecksweeney31 March 2001
This is probably the worst of Corman's Poe films, but that isn't to say it isn't still good. It maintains that loveable, campy Corman charm that seems to override any huge errors. Price is at his most awful -- this is probably the corniest you'll ever see him.

A dull and confusing plot which probably wasn't best for film adaption (why didn't he try "The Telltale Heart"?), re-used footage from the other Poe films, and hammy wardrobes are probably worst among my complaints.
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The Tomb of Ligeia
Scarecrow-8824 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Even dead and buried in her tomb, Ligeia continues to haunt her husband, Verden(Vincent Price)from beyond the grave. A form of hypnosis lies at the heart of Verden's misery, his eyes needing special protective glasses against the sun due to his mysterious late night activities. An aristocrat's beautiful daughter, Lady Rowena(Elizabeth Shepherd who also portrays Ligeia)encounters Verden while riding horseback curiously searching through the damaged ruins of Ligeia's abbey, falling from her steed when it bucks out of fear from a black cat..the black cat which was resting comfortably upon Ligeia's grave, a specter/symbol, of sorts, which remains always near Verden lest he forget of the woman he was once married and belonged to. Rowena is instantly drawn to Verden, and the two romance before Ligeia begins, through various devious acts, to threaten their happy courtship. Away from the cob-webbed, gloomy, ancient castle and abbey, Verden seems emotionally healthier, but upon returning Rowena notices that, at night, he is no where to be found, and that elderly loyal manservant Kenrick(Oliver Johnston)is hiding something he cares not to reveal, always attempting to escape any time of questioning. It'll be up to Rowena's pal and confident, Christopher(John Westbrook)to find the truth behind what causes Verden such pains/trauma and what kind of stranglehold Ligeia actually has on him, while also hoping to lay to rest an evil which lasts even after death.

All I have to say is that Corman and England were made for each other, a marriage that produces quite an effective Gothic horror film. Price, as he was in previous Poe films, is in great form, portraying another variation on a tormented soul, whose life can not find rest thanks in part to those already dead, yet alive enough to inflict agony. I love the way hypnosis is used in the film(..and in another effective Corman effort, Tales of Terror, co-starring Basil Rathbone also using such a mental practice well)as a weapon which entraps Verden and how such a procedure causes devastating consequences towards Rowens during a session where a childhood memory is evoked and Ligeia is able to infiltrate her at such a vulnerable state(..adding to the effectiveness is Corman's decision to shoot through the rising flames of a fireplace). I also love how the black cat is used as a symbol of Ligeia, it's presence always nearby(..that opening shot, when the cat hops onto Ligeia's casket with her eyes springing open immediately, is a humdinger)even inflicting harm with it's claws. Of course, Corman doesn't fail his faithful audience, as always, the castle falls to a burning rubble as an internal and external struggle commences. Shepherd convinces as both Rowena, an innocent caught between Verden and his former wife, and Ligeia whose voice is stern and ominous..I think one doesn't have a hard time distinguishing one from the other, the hypnosis session is certainly evidence of this. The castle itself is cob-webbed, foreboding, decadent and can sense right away what Verden was going through as time whithered by before meeting Rowena, such a setting reeks of melancholy and joyless discomfort. I love the twist as to why Verden is missing at night and the reasons behind his lack of appearance once married to's so tragic and morbid in equal measure. The inability to escape from someone dead, enslaved by a procedure(..considered a parlor trick during the film's period setting)used to unlock past memories and channel mental anguish for the betterment of long-suffering patients, instead forcing a victim to continue a nightly ritual against his will, quite a tragic fate for anyone and such a macabre tool used in this film, an unraveling mystery explaining Verden's plight and eventual fate.

The image of Verden doing battle with the black cat as the room collapses around him(..and, before this, as he almost strangles Rowena believing her to be Ligeia)is stunning to behold as is the final result of how that struggle concludes( good as any tragedy, a victim confronts the evil that has tortured him, falling prey to the tormentor with only one end possible)in an "after the smoke clears" image of the rubble and two bodies lying dead in each others' arms. Good stuff. While Corman was a master at using whatever sets and effects he could get a hold of in Hollywood, it's clearly visible in "Tomb of Ligeia" that Corman could cast a spell using medieval locations. We are also treated to another dandy of a nightmare sequence where Rowena and Ligeia meet through the dangerous black cat..and the bell tower sequence where that cat leads Rowena to her possible doom is also a doozy. The music is properly spectacle and suspenseful when need be and Price has some appropriately poetic dialogue to relate to the viewer the pain his character is going through in accordance to Ligeia and her hold over him. Lastly, I commend Corman for how he accomplishes the fact that Ligeia's presence is a thundercloud over the lives of everyone in the midst of her tomb and castle(..that fabulous scene where Rowena awakens from the nightmare to find a dead fox staring at her, a hairbrush housing Ligeia's hair, and a bowl of milk she almost steps in, beautifully establishes this all too well).
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Solid Poe Adaptation to Corman/Price Cycle
BaronBl00d23 June 2008
The last of the Corman/Price collaborations Tomb of Ligeia tells the story of a man losing his first wife, Ligeia, and then re-marrying and being haunted by the first wife somehow. To add to the mix the first wife was into Egyptian mysticism, and we are inundated with relics of that period, an Egyptian fox living on the grounds, and the whole notion of the Egyptian after-life. The script has some clever additions to the Poe story, which is completely reversed in character motivations, by later Oscar winner Robert Towne. Vincent Price gives his standard good performance as Verdun Fell, a man torn from the memories of his first wife and his new lust for his new wife. Price is attired in a completely weird get-up with stove-top hat(black of course) and dark, large sun glasses - looking like a psychedelic undertaker. Beautiful and talented Elizabeth Shepherd plays the love interest with charm and ability - playing off Price very well. The rest of the cast is very competent with Oliver Johnston as a servant shining in a small role. Look for Are you Being Served?'s Frank Thornton in a very, very brief role as a servant. Corman shot the film in England - the interior shots at Shepperton and the exteriors at a beautiful abbey. It is one of his most visual films off-set so to speak. While Tomb of Ligeia has solid performances, beautiful sets, and an able directorial hand - as well as a good story, Price and Corman seem to end their relationship on rather a dull note. This film doesn't have the grandeur of , say Masque of the Red Death, the wicked humour of The Raven, the Poe-esquire qualities of House of Usher, or the wicked Price performance of The Pit and the Pendulum. It doesn't have the fantastic character acting many of those films had or the haunting scores. It is a solid addition to the Poe canon and certainly a tribute to the work of Corman and Price - but to say it is the best of their films together - no way simply put. I would take any of those films previously mentioned(as well as others I have not) and put them higher on the pedestal. Tomb of Ligeia is again a quality film - quoth the critic nothing more.
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Not an impressive swing from Vincent Price here...
paul_haakonsen17 June 2018
This was another one of Vincent Price's movies that I just only now have had the fortune chance of watching.

"The Tomb of Ligeia" was a very slow paced story that seemed somewhat incoherent. Granted, I haven't read the Poe story, so how true the movie was to the book I have no idea.

The characters were somewhat devoid of characteristics, personalities and appeal, and most were ones that you hardly took a liking to.

"The Tomb of Ligeia" is definitely not the best of movies that rose in the horror genre in the mid 1960s, and it is hardly one of the more outstanding of Vincent Price movies.
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Morbid and creepy adaptation that ends Comran's Poe Cycle
hrkepler3 June 2018
Verden Fell (Vincent Price), a recently widowed man is convinced his wife Ligeia is still alive. Even meeting another woman Rowena (Elizabeth Shepherd who also fills the Ligeia's part) and marrying her, the man quite get over the death of his first wife. Eerie tale comes to tragic end when Vernon fights with the ghost and his own growing madness.

The film is visually rich with every inch of the screen filled with the ruins of abbey and spooky interiors of Verden's mansion. The bright outdoor scenes and dark rooms combines nice contrast that illustrate the Poe's words that end the movie - "The boundaries which divide life from death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends and where the other begins." The many usage of sunlit countryside scenery wasn't very usual in '60s horror films and some of the most haunting scenes take place in bright daylight. Constantly eerie mood flows through the film without giving much rest to the viewer.

Perfect finale to Corman's Poe themed series.
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"Lately I seem to be slipping into reveries..."
therosenpants20 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I'm really not sure what people aren't seeing in this film. This is truly a magnificent film, the best of the Corman/Price collaborations. The atmosphere, visuals, and even the characters yield a fantastic experience from beginning to end. Some have said only Price's performance is worth anything, but I found Sheppard, Francis and Johnston to be just as convincing (Westbrook seemed the only weak link, but not enough to detract). Sheppard's coolness adds to the personality of her character-- Rowena is poised, curious, iron-willed and unpretentious. A great departure from normal damsels trapped in a technicolor horror.

And Vincent Price as the tortured Verden is a revelation. Remarkable in the way one pities his character, who has such depth that we are fully immersed in his world, from the obsession with Egyptian artifacts to the familiarity with his kitchen, to the loneliness that compels him to rest in cobwebs and darkness. His happiness on marrying Rowena and honeymooning presents such a stark contrast to his solitary life that one wishes they would have left the constrictive hold of the house and Abbey before they even wed.

Particular standouts include the dreamy exploration of Rome and Stonehenge, the actual dream sequence that foretells Rowena's fate (the puppet cat's shadow being the only laughably bad effect in the film), but the best is easily Rowena's journey to the bell tower. Price's narration here is brilliantly magnified by Corman's camera work, highlighting how similar--and in some cases dissimilar-- Rowena and Ligeia are.

I haven't read the source Poe story, but I'm going to have to now. This film is truly a work of art that lives up to the themes Poe wrote about the tragedy of the human condition. Like Rowena and supposedly Ligeia, some people walk through the darkness of life like a solitary candle, brightening all around it. But without darkness, we cannot have that light to guide us, so our goodness would be worthless without the potential for evil, even within ourselves. I really admire how this film subtly captures this idea, and Poe would be proud.
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