One underrated gem of a chiller and a blah film for filler.
Doghouse King | Omaha, NE United States | 08/25/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"You can tell from the opening titles that The Haunted Palace will be unusually lavish for a Corman movie, even a "Poe adaption" (this nominally combines Poe with a Lovecraft-based plot.) The music is good, some of the best of any horror film of the 60's. And the credits play over actual footage, not just swirling paint. The sets and design are good, far better than the norm for AIP. The script is a solid one, from Charles Beaumont, who was likely hamstrung by circumstance in a few places, but nonetheless spins an effective and detailed if somewhat familiar tale. And the cast delivers: Price is his usual fantastic, craven, hammy self. The Juniors (Lon Chaney and Elisha Cook) are mostly wasted, but then again with a few notable exceptions (Spider-Baby, House on Haunted Hill) they always were after the 40's; it's just good to see them working. And Debra Paget is simply stunning, with any acting ability being a definite but superfluous bonus to the proceedings.The plot has to do with a warlock (Price) being burned but cursing the townfolk and swearing his return and revenge. Years later, the warlock's good-hearted descendant (also Price) returns to the village to claim the warlock's mansion. He finds a town in waste, frightened villagers who give birth to hideous mutations, and of course, some lingering resentment. How long will it be before Price is possessed by his ancestor through the evil painting over the mantel? As you know, not too long. Price then continues his ancestor's evil work of sacrifice and trying to conjure up an ancient monster from the pit in his basement. You've likely seen it before, though maybe not in a movie from the 60's, and it's punched over with relish and skill here, not to mention some genuine gruesomeness, and will be very enjoyable to genre fans. And did I mention the music is good?Sure, the ending lacks clarity, if not conviction (What exactly happened to the monster?), but overall HP may just be the best adaptation of Lovecraft material out there, watered-down as it is. (I'm not a fan of Re-Animator and its ilk.)Tower of London (1962) is a rather plain Shakespearian costume drama of intrigue and murder. Think of it as Corman Meets The Bard. Price is fine, but he could portray this kind of mad monarch in his sleep, and I think he did so a few times.He stars as a 15th-Century English gentryman who will stop at nothing to ascend to the throne. He engages in all sorts of torture and murder, none of it as sadistic or as involving as it wants to be. He grows more loony each time he murders, until finally in his insanity a vision of all his former victims rise against him...TofL is not really horror, but has some supernatural overtones in a sense: rats, ravens, magicians and the like. So therefore it ain't historical, neither, despite being based on real events and persons: Richard III, the Plantaganets and such. There is a set-bound quality to it, and the battle scenes (if you can call them that) consist mostly of a few soldiers marching and stock footage and some edits. It all looks cheap, but was probably even cheaper than it looks, even for Corman.Having a lesser cast also detracts; the 1939 Universal version had Karloff, Rathbone, Nan Grey and Leo G. Carroll, plus Price himself as a victim drowned in a wine vat. This has only Price, and he is unable carry this whole cardboard enterprise by his lonesome. Mildly entertaining while it's running, but disappointing at the finish, and quite forgettable.Still, The Haunted Palace alone is worth the price of a purchase, so getting Tower of London on the same disc is merely a bonus. Recommended."
Overlooked classic Poe film.
Deborah MacGillivray | US & UK | 11/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a super buy since you get two films from the Horror team of Vincent Price and Roger Corman. King of the Quickies, Roger Corman and Price made a good stab working their way through the stories and poems of Edgar Allan Poe, making one film right after another based on horror tales. Near the end, they tossed in one loosely based on H.P. Lovecraft's short story "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward". Price plays the lead in duo as Charles Dexter Ward his is distant relative, Joseph Curwen, a warlock.The movie opens, in a small misty shrouded town with a girl going to the castle of Curwen. She is followed there by the villagers, but Curwen claims she came to visit of her own free will. However, the girl can only answer in barest of replies, so they know she is under Curwen's bewitchment. The village drag Curwen out into the night and kill him. It moves to over 100 years later, when Charles Dexter Ward and his beautiful bridge come to claim the estate as his inheritance. They find the village strange, almost to the point of being hostile, and are oddly chilled when they see so many of the children are deformed. They learn from a kindly doctor there, the villager are cursed because of Curwen - who just happened to be the spitting image of Ward. Not there long at the Castle, when Ward suddenly begins to act funny. Could it be?A wonderful performance by one of the most beautiful women to ever grace the screen, Debra Pagent, with the great character actors, Leo Gordon, Elisha Cook and Lon Chaney, Jr., this is very low toned horror film that really needs a second - and third - look.____________________________The second film in the nice double feature is The Tower of London, another flick that teamed Price with director Roger Corman. The story for this film came from the pen of Leo Gordan (actor in the other film The Haunted Palace) and has his younger brother Bruce Gordon (The Television's Untouchables) as the Earl of Buckingham. Price plays Richard of Gloucester, later to be Richard III haunted by the people he murdered to get to the throne of England (including the Little Princes). Odd note, this is the second time Vincent Price made The Tower of London. In 1939 he appeared in a film with the same title, also based on Richard III, with Basil Rathbone playing Richard and Price playing Duke of Clarence.Great fun for Price fans at a great price!"
The Mistakes on the Midnite Movies DVD Below. (Haunted Palac
Mike Liddell | Massachusetts | 07/12/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Midnite Movies DVDs are great. They provide us with some great classics in horror at a fair price (as long as they stay in print) and a lot of the times you get two great movies on one disc as seen here. The quality is usually great as well. However from my experience Midnite Movies are famous for mistakes and misprints on the back of their DVDs. I don't mind, it's kind of like when your a kid buying baseball cards and your looking for the error card.
On the back of the Haunted Palace they mention it being based on a Edgar Allan Poe poem. However as Roger Corman points out on the "A change of Poe" Interview on the disc AIP gave him a bit of freedom and let him give his take on Lovecraft and points out the film being based off of H.P Lovecraft's The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. Corman mentions how he wasn't going to do a series of Lovecraft films but go back to doing Poe afterwards. As a fan of Corman I would've liked to see a series of Lovecraft as well.
The Haunted Palace is based on an 18th century warlock, Joseph Curwen (Price) who is burned at the stake by the towns people but not before he places a curse on the village. More then a century goes by and Charles Dexter ward, Curwen's grandson shows up to the village with his bride to claim the property. Charles Dexter Ward is also played by Price in this duel role Corman considered his best. Price does do an amazing job as always. Joseph begins to posses his grandson Ward to finish his work and we get to see Price change character on the spot. The film also cast Lon Chaney Jr (The Wolf Man.
The DVD also says it provides a mono audio track but it was in 2 channel digital.
TOWER OF LONDON:
Under the "fun facts" on the back of the dvd it is pointed out that the original tag line for the film was "Do you have the courage to spend 83 minutes in the Tower of London? But the Midnite Movies points out the film is only 80mins, which I found ironic with all their mistakes on the disc, but I probably have a lot of mistakes in this review.
This small budget black and white gem, also by Corman is epic in idea and Price's acting giving it a larger feel.
Based on Shakespeare's Richard III the film follows Richard of Gloucester, (Price was also in the 1939 version The Boris Karloff Collection (Tower of London / The Black Castle / The Climax / The Strange Door / Night Key)starring Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff, in one of Prices earlier films) this time played by Price as he murders anyone standing in his way of England's throne. Things do not go as planned as the ghosts of those he killed come back to assist him in going madd.
The DVD also contains an Interview Producer Gene Corman.
I bought the dvd off here but through a company called Interzone. The shipping was literally next day even though it was supposed to be standard and the dvd arrived in great condition, factory sealed as advertised. I recommend them.
Price and Corman tackle Lovecraft and Shakespeare (sort of)
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 06/06/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Here are a pair of films with actor Vincent Prince and director Roger Corman from their glory days. "The Haunted Palace" is arguably one of the best adaptations of an H. P. Lovecraft story, but since this is an American International production directed by Roger Corman, the name above the title is Edgar Allan Poe. The Lovecraft story being roughly adapted is "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward," which deals with the resurrection of the dead through sorcery. In the town of Arkham the wizard Joseph Curwen was burnt at the stake, but not before he curses the villagers (and their descendants) and promises to rise from the dead. Ward is Curwen's descendant and Vincent Price plays both roles. Ward arrives with his beautiful wife Ann (Debra Paget) to take over the family castle, which comes complete with a caretaker (Lon Chaney, Jr.). Ward notices his resemblance to Curwen's portrait, and soon the dead wizard takes over his descendant's body with the goal of breeding human women with the Elder Gods.To be fair, Corman resisted the "Poe" credit. The final irony is that "The Haunted Palace" lacks the pace and flamboyancy of AI's Poe films, even with Corman and Price on hand for the fun. The above average script here is by Charles Beaumont and Ronald Stein's musical score is one of the better ones to grace a B-grade horror movie, but as you might expect Price's performance is the lynchpin to the entire film. Still, Corman puts his mark upon the film with the rather downbeat ending. All in all, "The Haunted Palace" stands up in comparison to the more recognizable Poe films and with this DVD we get to see it in its original widescreen format, which makes a big difference."Tower of London" is ostensibly a remake of a 1939 film with Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone which turned Shakespeare's "Richard III" into a stripped down horror show (Rathbone was Richard and Karloff his executioner). Price is Richard, Duke of Gloucester at the outset, who murders his way to the English throne occupied first by his brother Edward IV (Justice Watson) and then his nephew Edward V (Eugene Martin). Ironically, Price had been in the original as the poor murdered Clarence, who this time is played by Charles Macaulay. The problem is that the script makes Richard out to be some sort of deranged psychopath, and Price's performance goes over the line into the realm of camp as far as I am concerned.
If you knew nothing about the Richard of history or drama you would think this was another one of Corman's Poe films because it has all of his standard tricks of the trade in that regard (would the director have put Poe's name above the title instead of Shakespeare's if that had been a point of contention?). In the Poe films the Vincent Price character falls apart early on and has to suffer throughout the film and that is what happens with his Richard in "The Tower of London." But why would you want a Richard who guilty murders his way to the throne? The attraction in Shakespeare is that Richard is a grand villain, who can, to quote the bard, smile and murder whilst he smiles. This guy is just a loon. The rest of the cast is more than competent, especially for a Corman film, but Price's performance keeps dragging this one down past the point of no return. Fortunately, "The Haunted Palace" redeems this DVD enough to justify checking it out."