His first wife is dead...but still a little catty!
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 04/25/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"MGM supplies a double dose of Price and Poe with this Midnight Movies release of The Tomb of Ligeia (1965) and An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe (1970). The Tomb of Ligeia, directed by Roger Corman, was his last of the popular Poe series of films, and Corman certainly went out in style. Opting for shooting on location rather than use of soundstages, the production here is lavish and infinitely enjoyable.
The story centers on Verden Fell (Vincent Price), who lives in a run down abbey, with his wife, Ligeia, buried within the grounds. But is she actually dead? It was said her will was so strong, her desire to live so palpable, that maybe she didn't really pass. Elizabeth Sheppard also stars as Lady Rowena Trevanion, a woman who has a chance meeting with Verden, and soon finds herself enthralled with the man, despite his peculiarities, like his aversion to sunlight, his living in an abandoned abbey, etc. They are soon married, and then the weirdness really begins. Strange dreams, a black cat, Verden mysteriously disappearing in the night, and a sense that Verden's deceased wife, while not around in a physical sense, is somewhere in the abbey...maybe everywhere in the abbey, as her presence seems to permeated the structure, and it doesn't seem like she's too happy about Verden getting re-married...so what's the secret behind Verden's strange behavior? Is Ligeia really dead? What is the menacing presence lurking within the abbey, intent on haunting Lady Rowena?
As I've said, this is a really wonderful production full of rich, beautiful location shots. The decrepit abbey is provides a wonderful backdrop to this truly creepy story, and the minimal number of characters really helps to keep things tight and focused. Price, one of my favorite actors, does a wonderful job, and seeing him apply his craft is always a treat. Elizabeth Sheppard certainly manages to hold her own, sharing much screen time with price. What I found really interesting was the lack of physical horror within the film, and how the film avoided the luridness of some of the other Corman/Poe productions, seeming to stay more along the lines of the source material. Credit must be given to the write of the screenplay, Robert Towne, who later wrote the Nicholson/Polanski classic Chinatown (1974). A real nice adaptation with loads of atmosphere and a nice way for Corman to finish the Poe series with this eighth and final adaptation.
The second feature on this disc, An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe, isn't a theatrically released feature, but a made for TV movie starring Vincent Price. It's comprised of four vignettes, including the more popular Poe stories, The Tell Tale Heart, The Sphinx, The Cask of Amontillado, and The Pit and the Pendulum..Price is the only one throughout the entire feature, sometimes acting in a manner of relating a tale within character in the story, sometimes acting out the different characters within the stories. It's a very personal affair, and all tales follow the original stories very closely, something that wasn't necessarily true of the theatrical Poe features produced by Roger Corman starring Price. As far as I can tell, Corman had nothing to do with this production, but it was produced by American International, the same company that produced the Corman/Poe films. This feature runs 53 minutes. Since it was shot for television on video tape, the quality isn't all that great, but, if you are a fan of Price and/or Poe's works, then this will be a real treat for you. Price really sinks his teeth into the roles, relating each tale with flourish they so richly deserve.
The print provided for The Tomb of Ligeia looks really beautiful, presented in wide screen. The special features include two, separate audio commentary tracks, one with Roger Corman, and another with star Elizabeth Sheppard. There is also a theatrical trailer for the film. An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe is in full screen format since it was a feature made for television, and does have subtitles, which came in useful as the audio, while decent, was a bit weak at points.
Price And Poe: A Great Combo
Mike King | Taunton, MA United States | 09/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Tomb Of Ligeia" was the last time Roger Corman would direct Vincent Price in a movie adaptation of an Edgar Allan Poe story. Vincent stars as Verden Fell, whose willful wife has just died. Her will to live was so strong that not even death could put an end to her. This moody movie is beautifully filmed, with the details of the decaying abbey and cemetery, as well as the vivid colors of the interior shots, benefiting greatly from the new DVD transfer. However, I found this costume horror film to be heavy on atmosphere and light on scares. The action didn't really pick up until the fiery climax."An Evening Of Edgar Allan Poe," originally shot on videotape for television in 1970, is officially released at last. Given the source material, the images are clear and the sound is good. Vincent Price delivers a powerful, one man performance of four Poe stories. "The Tell Tale Heart" starts the evening off on a strong note. Vincent gets more and more animated in relating how he planned to murder the old man he was looking after, how he dismembered the body in a tub to catch all the blood, and how he carefully hid the body parts. Of course, when the police come to investigate the complaint of hearing a scream in the night, Vincent loses his composure and reveals everything, because he hears the incessant beating of the old man's heart! "The Sphinx" is a comical piece, in which Vincent sees a gigantic monster in his telescope, which turns out to be a moth caught in a spider's web. "The Cask Of Amontillado" finds Vincent at his jovial best. He happily relates how he led his drunken friend through the dank catacombs to show him his latest wine purchase. Instead of sharing some drinks, he quickly chains his friend to the wall and then slowly seals him up alive, brick by brick. "The Pit And The Pendulum" features an amazing performance by Vincent Price. In the span of twenty minutes, Vincent relates the terrible tortures inflicted on him by the Spanish Inquisition with chilling detail and fiery conviction. For all fans of Vincent Price, this DVD is an essential purchase."
A fine double-bill...
R. Gawlitta | Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA | 08/30/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
""The Tomb of Ligeia" is, I'm sure, the draw of the two. Before I bought this DVD, I didn't know what was to be expected from something called "An Evening with Edgar Allen Poe", and Amazon offered no explanation. Well, get ready. This is a filming of Vincent Price's one-man show that went around the country, featuring his rendition of "The Tell-Tale Heart", "The Sphinx", "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Pit and the Pendulum". It's intense and quite wonderful. As hammy as he's been in other films, there is a riveting conviction to present Poe as it should be. It's definitely worth a look. "The Tomb of Ligeia" is Corman's last Poe film, which he considers among his best. I found it to have a bit more center and plot than most of his other Poe adaptations. There's a fine, unsettling performance from Elizabeth Shepperd, playing dual roles. I'm a fan of early Poe films by Corman; here, he's developed style and intelligence. I thought the earlier mindless ones (Matheson script) were more fun. But this is definitely worth a look. Screenplay by Robert Towne ("Chinatown"). I was most impressed with Price's one-man show. It's pretty much of a one mood (crazy) presentation, but I can't really say that it's hammy. Imagine "The Pit and the Pendulum" done alone on stage... (with no props or set). It's quite frightening, and, here, Price was much in tune with his material. A real tour de force. It's a performance that is up there with Rathbone or Olivier."
The Enduring Power of CORMAN, POE and VINCENT PRICE
gobirds2 | New England | 01/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"THE TOMB OF LIGEIA is the definitive of Roger Corman's eight Edgar Allan Poe film adaptations. This is the best. The first thing that impresses the viewer is the innovative cinematography by Arthur Grant. It is stark yet hauntingly beautiful. The opening scene at Ligeia's burial is an impressive piece of filmmaking. It immediately draws the viewer into this tale of obsession where images are presented in such a way leaving one uncertain as to what was actually observed. Roger Corman directs these scenes with an emotional fervor entirely different from his other Poe tales juxtaposing quick editing, insightfully ambiguous dialog and penetrating camera movements creating a truly unique experience. There is something very erotic in a more mature sense about this whole film. There is no notion of carnal lust present in any of the images yet the viewer can feel a sense of stirring of the passionate emotions between the two principal characters, Verden Fell and Lady Rowena Trevanion. Vincent Price is truly brilliant as Verden Fell, husband of the late Lady Ligeia Fell. He plays this elusive and enigmatic character with complete conviction and confidence. Elizabeth Shepherd is equally brilliant as the curious and interested Lady Rowena as she exudes an aura of repressed burning sexuality. This is all conveyed by a mere hand gesture, a look or the ever-slightest touch or just the utterance of some seemingly unimportant words. Price tends to be oblivious to these very subtle advances in an almost asexual trance of consciousness yet he still conveys a sense of yearning for a passion perhaps lost or just lying dormant. Corman's directorial abilities are so acute in this film that the viewer really has no direct insight to where he is going with this intriguing and engaging story, yet when the tale concludes it all becomes apparent and quite logical. Equally important is Roger Corman, the producer. Robert Towne's screenplay is filled with incredibly intelligent, witty, amusing and crisp dialogue. Vincent Price and Elizabeth Shepherd did wonders with Towne's use of language making the characters' eccentricities and frailties startlingly real. Editor Alfred Cox made use of well timed and trimmed cuts to heighten and enhance certain plot elements putting the viewer off balance yet increasing the viewer's awareness of the narrative. Cinematographer Arthur Grant and art designer Colin Southcott combined to make indelible images that are so simple and economic in design yet convey a strange and beautifully haunting setting that entices the viewers' intellectual curiosity in an emotional response. Even composer Ken Jones' score is economical in its construction yet it is very effective. It just seems to flow with the images waiting for the viewer to make an intellectual connection that again elicits an emotional response. I waited patiently for a DVD widescreen version of THE TOMB OF LIGEIA and I was not disappointed. Roger Corman's audio commentary is a bit sparse but still insightful as to how he approached this film. AN EVENING OF EDGAR ALLEN POE, looking as though it was probably shot on videotape, is a tour de force for Vincent Price as he single handedly gives very dramatic and theatrical renditions of Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Cask of Amontillado," "The Pit and the Pendulum" and "The Sphinx." Vincent Price is riveting and demonstrates his unique presence and prowess for presenting these versions of Poe's stories with compelling histrionics. I had never seen AN EVENING OF EDGAR ALLEN POE and was quite surprised to see just how talented Vincent Price really was.