The Masque of the Red Death (1964)

The Masque of the Red Death, 1964; directed by Roger Corman; starring Vincent Price, Hazel Court, Jane Asher

Vincent Price.  His name is synonymous with horror.   He’s the guy Michael Jackson called to be on a song and video about a dancing Zombie.

Edgar Allen Poe.   His name is synonymous with horror. It’s his poetry that is read around halloween every year.

And Roger Corman. His name is synonymous with low budget, pulpy but entertaining films.  Genre films.  And among those genres, yes horror films.

Beginning in late the late 1950s thru the 1960s, Roger Corman made 8 movies based on the works of Edgar Allen Poe.  Vincent Price starred in all but one of them.  Collectively they are known as the Poe cycle.

While they vary in quality, many are good to great.  High on the list for most folks is The Masque of Red Death.  Price plays Prince Prospero, a ruler of one of the kingdoms in Italy in the middle ages.  Prospero is also a Satanist who delights in his power and his ability to cause pain.  The plague of the Red Death is also roaming the land.

What follows are abused peasants, people trying to join satanic cults, combat with knives and humiliating deaths all played for the amusement of crowds, surreal dreams and lots of fun nastiness. It is not particularly bloody or scary.  But Price performs with his usual entertaining chewing of the scenery.  Masque also marks the first time Corman used cinematographer, Nicholas Roeg. Roeg later went on to make his own very stunningly visual films in the 70s and 80s, including Walkabout and David Bowie’s acting debut, The Man Who Fell To Earth.
After several days of scares and gore galore, this is a mellow but pretty great monday choice.  And if you love the unique look and feel of those 60s technicolor period films the way I do, then this Price/Corman/Poe production will be a treat.

Dr. Vorhees