The Masque of the Red Death: Death and Debauchery reign in the castle of Prince Prospero (Vincent Price), and when it reigns... it pours! Prospero has only once excuse for his diabolical deeds--the devil made him do it! Bu... more »t when a mysterious, uninvited guest crashes his pad during a masquerade ball, there'll be hell to pay as the party atmosphere turns into a danse macabre! The Premature Burial: Talk about a tortured artist! Oscar winner Ray Milland is Guy, a medical student and painter whose obsessive fear of being buried alive compels him to build himself a tomb with a view, equipped with everything he can think of to escape death. But it's when his long-suffering wife convinces him to destroy the tomb that he finds himself in the gravest danger!« less
"Masque of the Red Death...this was one of Roger Corman's more lavish AIP productions. This one benefited from more money, accessibility to great scenery, and a great location. As with most of Corman's Poe movies, there is a good amount that's speculated from Poe's original story, as they were usually pretty short, at least not enough material to fill out a hour and a half movie. Vincent Price plays Prince Prospero, a satanic nobleman with a penchant for cruelty, especially with regards to the peasants within his realm. On discovering that the red death has been found within the small village he oversees, he orders it to be burnt to the ground. He then also invites the local nobility to his castle for protection against the red death, and they proceed to envelope themselves in depravity and much debauchery. Watch for some great performances by Patrick Magee as Alfredo, Hazel Court as Juliana and Jane Asher as Francesca. The dream sequence with Juliana was really done well, similar to the dream sequence with Ray Milland in Premature Burial. Ultimately, the carrier of the red death comes to the castle during a masquerade, and Prospero assumes it's his unholy master, but soon learns otherwise. There is a side story, one with a peasant girl, Francesca, played by Jane Asher. Prince Prospero spares her when he has her village destroyed, and seems to be intrigued by her innocence, her purity and his need to corrupt her to gain favor with his master. A great production, and a great performance by Vincent Price. One part I found especially creepy was that little girl that they made to appear as a little woman through makeup and such. And then dubbing in an adult's voice when she spoke...The one problem I did have with this movie was it was almost too lavish. In particular, Prince Prospero has a number of rooms linked together, and each is painted a different color, a somewhat gaudy color. And it's not just the room, but all the furnishings in the room are the same color. One room is an ugly yellow, and then through the door is another room is exacly the same, yet purple and so on...the last room was black, and was supposed to be his sort of satanic temple. But I digress...this was a fairly small bone for me to pick on, but I think Trading Spaces would have had a field day with this place.And on the flipside we get Premature Burial. Apparently, Roger Corman had some kind of minor falling out with AIP, and decided to make this movie without AIP. He approached Pathe, which did color for the movies, and they showed interest in backing Corman on this movie, as they wanted to get into film distribution. Well, things moved on from there, and the cast was set, and then AIP bought Pathe, making it a AIP production in the end. The only reason I mention this is because Ray Milland, not Vincent Price stars in this movie. Vincent Price had been under contact with AIP, so when Roger Corman wanted to cast the movie, he was unable to get Vincent as the star. Some say the movie suffers from this, but I disagree. I think Vincent Price was an amazing actor, but I really enjoyed Ray Milland in the lead role. Ray plays Guy Carrell, a man obsessed with being buried alive. In the basement of his manor, there are tombs where his family members are interred. When he was young, his father passed away, but Guy thinks his father wasn't really dead, and claims to have heard him trying to escape. Apparently his father had a disease that could present the appearance of death, even when the person wasn't really dead. Guy's fear of being buried alive stems from this. His fear is so great he builds a crypt, complete with numerous escape routes should he ever suffer the same fate. His thoughts of death and being buried alive consume him, and so his relationship with his new wife suffers. Hazel Court plays Emily, his wife, and she thinks he's suffering from a sickness of the mind, his being so pre-occupied with the subject and she tries to get help from the family physician. She finally convinces Guy to destroy his crypt and try to live a normal life. I have to say, I thought his crypt was pretty cool, and he seemed to have thought of everything. It kind of reminded me of those bomb shelters people built in the 50's in case of nuclear attack. Anyhow, Guy has an attack, brought on by trying to prove his father didn't die as he thought, and goes into a comatose death-like state and his worst fear comes to reality, that of being buried alive! He manages to escape, and learns of plans by others to hasten his demise and begins to set things right. A pretty decent entry, although I saw the ending coming from about halfway into the movie. An red herring was offered to us in who was responsible for the odd goings on, the little things intended to fuel his fears, but it was presented in such a way it was so obvious that it couldn't be true. That was probably my biggest problem with this movie, and I tried not to give anything away in illustrating it. The dream/nightmare sequence was quite good, and filmed very similar to the dream sequence in Masque of the Red Death. I guess if something works, stick with it. I really enjoyed Ray Milland in this movie, a man ruled by his obsession with premature burial. Was this a common problem back in the day? There was rationalization presented to support his fear, but I guess most everyone has to fear something, although premature burial is pretty low on my list."
Robert E. Rodden II | Peoria, IL. United States | 09/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is MGM at their best. A double-feature DVD with two Roger Corman classics, both in glorius widescreen, both in luscious technicolor. The first gem, "Masque of the Red Death", has never looked better. A tale of decadence set during the black plague, here represented as the "red plague", thus Edgar Allen Poe. But where Poes wonderful poem ends, is, so-to-speak, at the end of this film. Corman took Poes frightening vignette on the black death and spun a tale of Satanism versus Christain belief, all set in a richly atmospheric castle in the middle of a hellish landscape -- For those of you squemish about anything to do with Christianity, think of it as a morality play of Good against Evil; afterall, Corman is rather ambiguous as to who the hooded "death characters" really are -- And our host to the party to end all parties, none other than Vincent Price himself. The second film, Premature Burial, I'd never seen until this DVD. It is not as hypnotic at "Masque", but it is a fun, macabre journey into madness with a superb actor, Ray Milland, at the helm. Also starring the very sexy, very voluptious Hazel Court, which some Hammer Horror fans may remember from the up and coming dvd "Curse of Frankenstein", due out in October. The film is presented in widescreen. Both films, one on each side of the DVD, include very nicely produced extras with Roger Corman, giving some nice information on the creation and production of both films. If your a fan of Vincent Price, buy it for "Masque". If your a fan of Roger Corman, you will not be disapointed in either film."
The mediaeval magnificence of the 'Masque'
Nigel Jackson | Adocentyn | 08/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Undoubtedly the 1964 film 'The Masque of the Red Death'stands as Roger Corman's masterpiece of richly-stylized gothic horror, melding his free adaptation of the Poe story of the same name with the cruel tale of 'Hop Frog'. The atmosphere acheived in this film , with it's sumptuous sets, costumery and heightened sense of lapidary colour, is quite incomparable. From the opening scene in the mist-shrouded twilight of the plague-haunted mediaeval countryside where the old woman gathering wood encounters the crimson-cowled figure of the Red Death sat beneath a tree drawing the tarot cards which signify his role as divinely-appointed dispenser of fate unto humankind, an eerie and apocalyptic drama unfolds to compelling effect: the simplicity and innocence of the village-girl Francesca contrasts sharply with the luxuriant and corrupting evil within Prince Prospero's turreted castle as a tale as starkly and boldly delineated as some Mystery-cycle or morality-play of the High Middle Ages, is enacted. Vincent Price's depiction of Prince Prospero, a nobleman who has pledged his eternal soul to the Lord of this World, the 'Lord of Flies', is absolutely masterly. Likewise the beautiful Hazel Court provides a powerful portrayal of Juliana who vies with Prospero for the infernal favours of Satan vowing herself as the bride of hell in the black chapel. Sin and innocence, sanctity and abomination, freedom and fate, survival and mortality - all is in the balance and over all the red-cowled figure of the Red Death presides dealing the cards which are the lots of inexorable and inescapable destiny. Prince Prospero's dark allegiance and pact with his satanic Master avails him not at all when the clock strikes midnight and despite his arrogant pomp, power and riches he too must join in the final dance - the Dance of Death! The sheer visual beauty of many scenes of this film will impress themselves vividly upon your imagination in a lasting way, some examples being the suite of yellow, blue, purple and black chambers, Juliana's hallucinatory and daemonic dream sequence and the final sequence where the various avatars of Death are beheld upon the foggy heath. The acting is of a very high standard and the characters are well realised throughout. The pace never flags as the narative builds up via skilful episodic unfoldment to the climactic confrontation at the height of the Masque and the score throughout is powerful and deeply evocative. 'The Masque of the Red Death' delivers an unforgettable experience and is truly worthy of being called a genuine classic of horror..."
"He Does Not Rule - Alone..."
Bruce Rux | Aurora, CO | 08/22/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Premature Burial may be considered merely an extra, on this DVD - it's passable, but overall not that hot. The real star of the show is Roger Corman's Masque of the Red Death, one of the best of his Poe cycle films. Both movies were co-scripted by genre master Charles Beaumont, a frequent Twilight Zone contributor, the former with assistance from fellow genre master Ray Russell. Premature Burial is the less impressive of the two due to general plot contrivance, which is rather hackneyed and predictable, and Ray Milland simply didn't have the presence for this kind of work that Vincent Price did.Masque of the Red Death is a very clever rendition of two of Poe's best works, the title story and another lesser-known little piece of nastiness called "Hop-Frog." Price plays the evil fourteenth century Prince Prospero, who safely ensconces all his country's nobles behind his castle's walls to keep them safe from the dreaded plague of the "red death" that is ravaging the populace. Prospero is a decadent and sadistic Satanist, who views his role in the proceedings as that of more or less a diabolical Noah, preserving his own kind until the plague passes. One of his guests - an equally despicable Patrick Magee - is horribly murdered by a dwarf he mocks and despises, constituting the "Hop-Frog" subplot. Prospero, meanwhile, delights in attempting to seduce and degrade innocent Christian peasant girl Jane Asher, much to wife Hazel Court's great ire and dismay. Eventually, an uninvited guest wearing the forbidden color red appears in Prospero and his partygoers' midst, whom Prospero takes to be none other than Satan, himself, come to delight in Prospero's evil handiwork - but who is actually none other than the Red Death, personified, with more than one gruesome surprise for Prospero...The dialogue and symbolism in Masque of the Red Death are stellar. The Red Death mocks Prospero from behind his mask, hinting at powers and knowledge Prospero only pretends to possess. When Prospero suggests that only Satan could have sent him, since he believes Satan rules the universe, the Red Death wryly responds, "He does not rule - alone..." The concluding exchange between the two, and the gruesome finale of gaudily dressed partiers dying in an off-key, bloody ballet, is brilliant - the whole film is very Ingmar Bergman-esque. The production is top-notch, extremely colorful, with absolutely gorgeous sets and costumes.Buy it for Masque of the Red Death. You might even enjoy Premature Burial, too."
Mannered double bill of Poe/Corman "classics"
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 11/30/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Roger Corman's Poe adaptions are only as good as the writer he's working with on them. Most of Corman's Poe films were scripted by writing wiz Richard Matheson. While these films were a bit flatfooted when it comes to the cinematography, they had their charms and Vincent Price made the films come alive with his performances. Masque of the Red Death is probably Corman's richest film visually but the mannered staging of many of the scenes gets in the way of some fine performances and powerful scenes. Charles Beaumont's adaption of two Poe stories manages to create a memorable story about wealth, status and the corruption of power. Price gives a delicious performance and Jane Asher is memorable as the female lead.The "dance" of death is a bit too stylized and distracting. Although it might have been considered arty and daring for its time (and genre), Masque isn't the masterpiece many Corman fans lead you to believe.Premature Burial, on the other hand, is an underrated gem. The script isn't quite as tight or well written as Masque but the performances and direction are more consistent. Ray Milland steps in for Vincent Price (who wasn't able to star due to his contract with AIP. Ironically, AIP eventually picked up the distribution rights to Burial). Milland might seem an odd choice for the main character at first, but he pulls it off quite well. His nervous and distracted acting style suits the main character in this film. Although not as visually memorable or stunning as Masque, Burial is a more consistently enjoyable film.The extras include brief introductions by Corman with some interesting stories on the making of both films. There's no booklet (as with most of The Midnight Movies series)but that's not really a problem."