The Haunted Palace:Lovecraft Meets Poe 

Plot: Arkham villagers, suspecting Joseph Curwen of being a Warlock, burn him alive. With his dying breath, he curses the town resulting in his old palace being abandoned for over 100 years. Suspicion and hatred resurface as his great great grandson Charles Ward and his wife return to claim the castle. Along with the hatred of the villagers, Anne must deal with her husband’s strange  and increasingly erratic behavior. Is it due to the villager’s influence, or is something more sinister at work?

Spooky…


Review: Back to the standard format, and away with the comedic elements. This does bring a new twist to the table, one that’s a bit more tentacly and abstract. This film claims to be based on Poe, but is more Lovecraftian in nature, which will be made evident rather shortly. Does this new combo work? Or does it deserve a place in the attic next to the cuthuluian love child?  Let’s take a look.

My father was a tentacled eldritch abomination.

Price returns as both Jonathan Curwen and Charles Ward. Along for the ride is Lon Chaney Jr, playing the creepy caretaker who is clearly in on the entire thing. Both provide excellent roles and the villagers are suitably angry and paranoid ( on account of the whole curse thing resulting in half fish offspring.) Anne has little to do and Hester even less, but they serve their part well enough.

As usual backgrounds are nice looking and suitably creepy when called for. The shots of the town, engulfed in fog as ominous noise plays are really nice. I expected to see Guy’s mausoleum in the background of the graveyard scenes.

No weird fish man breeding going on here, no sir..

How does Price fair? Quite well actually. No melodramatic speeches here, instead we get to see a purely evil sorcerer out to get revenge and continue his human-eldritch crossbreeding. Not that his hammy nature is reduced, its just got an evil tint to it. Before that, however, we get to see his performance as Charles, a nonbeliever in the silly superstitions of the fish villagers. Along with this comes an air of snark which got a chuckle or two out of me.

Despite all signs pointing to get the hell out (abandoned town, judgemental fishmen, a crazy Ralph cameo), they decide to stay anyway. Influencing this decision is the doctor, who appears to be one of the only sensible men in town, unlike the angry mob with an itchy match hand.

This will not end well..

The weirdness continues once they reach the house and meet Lon Chaney Jr as the creepy caretaker. Who is in on the entire thing. One glance at a painting of Joseph Curwek, and Charles is instantly possessed. He doesn’t make it subtle either, not that Anne seems to notice. It makes a nice break from the melodramatics however.

One full possession later, and Charles has gotten ahold of the Necronomicon in an attempt to resurrect Hester, who kinda dissapears until 40 minutes in. This leads into an ending that is really well executed, aswell as an obvious twist ( it was fresh back then).

I demand more brides!

One of the major issues here is the attempt to replicate the sheer terror that is Lovecraft’s work. Lovecraft is all about the fear of the unknown and how man’s pursuit of knowledge beyond his comprehension leads to sheer madness . This is hard enough to do in film, but tossing in the work of Poe and blending them together is a difficult task on its own. The ingredients are there , they just need more work.

Unlike this fantastic work of art.

Highlights: The physical effects for the fish people are really good, as are the corpse effects for Hester. The eldritch beast is suitably trippy looking and also not something I’d want to mate with. The elements are there for a good story, but it just needs more work.

Recommendations: If you want to see the first adaptation of Lovecraft’s work on screen or love Vincent Price, give it a shot. If you want a lot of action, I’d find something else.

Next week we continue the Poe-A-Thon with something actually Poe related. I’ll also be changing the format up a  bit from now on.

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Tales of Terror: A Trilogy Of Terror 

Title: Tales of Terror 

Release Date: July 4, 1962

Plot: Narrated by Vincent Price, this film takes three Poe stories and adapts them into short films. Included are The Black Cat/Cask of Amontillado, Morella, and The Case of M. Valdemar. 

Review: Unlike the other films in this series, this one tackles three Poe stories in three separate short films. Maybe it was due to this or me taking a week off to deal with finals, but this was definitely more interesting than The Premature Burial.  The short format means less padding and more getting to the point, and this particularly stands out in the second short. Before I get ahead of myself, let’s tackle Morella.

I Do Believe There’s A Corpse In Your Bed Good Sir.

 Peachy keen Vincent Price returns, not only as our narrator, but as a main character in all three shorts. Here, he plays the broken husk that was once Locke, father to Lenora and widower of Morella. Rather than playing the tortured, poetic soul, he instead is a bit more vindictive and has turned to alcohol. To go along with this change, the setting is more ghostly and faded, rather than dark and gloomy. 

Even When He’s Vindictive, He’s Still Adorable.

Turns out Locke never got over Morella’s death, and decided to keep her corpse in their bed. This is weird to even Lenora, but her impeding death and strained relationship is far more pressing. The shortness of the acts is detrimental to the building of their relationship and tension, but this one still provides a few scares. 

Oh, This Will Be Good.

The second short is where this film really shines, as Peter Lorre and Vincent Price meet again to craft a comedic take on this tale. Peter Lorre plays the perpetually drunk Montresor Herringbone, who challenges Price’s Fortunato to a wine tasting contest. Lorre as a drunkard is hilarious to watch, and Price having to carefully guide him home is a well done scene. Much like in The Raven, they play off each other extremely well. The best example being the wine tasting scene.  

I Could Watch This On Loop Forever.

One contest later, and a clingy drunk Montresor is lead home by Fortunato. Here, we meet Annabel, Montresor’s wife and cat lady. Fortunato, a fellow cat lover, hits it off with her and ends up having an affair. Montresor takes a while to find this out, but when he does, it doesn’t end well. Lorre gets to darkly mumble as he plots their deaths. The action, as with the first picks up quickly and Fortunato ends up behind a brick wall. 

Not The Best Place To End Up.

Adding to the effectiveness of this one is the music used and weird film filters. Montresor was slipping the camera and editor some booze on the side, and it adds to the surreal tone this one sets. 

Insert Disco Track Here.

Our third and final tale recounts the case of M. Valdemar, a man dying of some unnamed internal illness. Valdemar’s hypnotist, played by Basil Rathbone, is incredibly  sketchy, but seeing as Valdemar trusts him, everyone goes with it. Said hypnotist wants to keep Valdemar’s mind live after death, in an attempt to gain all of his wealth and his wife.  This one is a lot of talking,and doesn’t really live up to the second short. What happens after death is a nice concept to base a horror film on, but this one simply had no time to  build a proper story. 

It Did Give Us This Image Though. Yay?

Highlight’s: All of the second short, but especially the tasting contest. Peter Lorre works off of price really well, and I’m glad this concept got a feature length film. 

Recommendations: These are short enough that they won’t bore and provide good adaptations of Poe’s work. I reccomend finding this one and giving it a shot. 

Next week, we enter not the world  of Poe, but the equally demented mind of H.P. Lovecraft.