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Tag Archives: Edgar Allen Poe

I Like Vincent Price

Once a long time ago when we were looking for a movie to watch, my husband Steve started reading to me a description of a Vincent Price movie coming up on TCM. An adaptation of a story by Edgar Allen Poe, directed by Roger Corman, also starring etc etc

“You had me at Vincent Price,” I interrupted. I thought I was pretty cute to say it, but perhaps I flatter myself.

We recently watched two Price/Corman/Poe collaborations (if Poe can be said to collaborate when he is dead and all they did was use his story, taking considerable liberties with it). I would like to do real movie write-ups on them, as I have done with other cheesy horror movies, but that will not happen this morning. For one reason, I remember very little about The Tomb of Ligeia. For another, I am typing in this Monstrous Monday Post on Tuesday morning (regular readers knew I was not entirely done with late blog posts). I do not have a lot of time.

No photo description available.
Dramatic, yes?

The above is an image from The Tomb of Ligeia, which we watched last Sunday. I finally managed to copy it from Facebook but could not figure out how to make it larger.

Creepy movie, yes.

Oh crap, I did not realize the image had “THEMONSTERCHANNEL.COM” printed over it. There may be a way to get rid of it, or I could look for another image. But look at the time. I need to get a few other things done before I leave for work. Additionally, I am over 200 words. That is better than I have been doing lately. This must do for my Monstrous Monday Post. Bring on the rest of Tuesday!

But What Would Poe Think?

Spoiler Alert! I’m going to tell the plot and I may give away a couple of the best jokes.

I thought The Raven (1963) had it all: Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre star. Roger Corman directed. And it’s based, or rather “inspired by” Edgar Allen Poe. This movie is going to rock! I thought, as I set my DVR.

Well, the movie does rock, but not quite in the way I expected it to. It starts out creepy enough: the camera pans through a gloomy castle while Price’s inimitable voice intones the poem “The Raven” by Poe. A big, scary black bird appears on cue. When Price dramatically asks will he ever see his dear Lenore again and we are waiting for — come on, you know this — Quote the Raven, “Nevermore!” instead we hear a rather testy Peter Lorre answer, “How should I know?”

And it goes on from there.

It is a very silly movie. Boris Karloff is responsible for Lorre’s feathered state. He is the evil head magician. Price’s father used to be the (not evil) head magician, but Price lives retired with his beautiful daughter and the body of his dead wife.

Lorre’s son is played by Jack Nicholson. I think it is delightful that Nicholson got his start in cheesy horror movies. So far I’ve seen him in Little Shop of Horrors, The Terror and now The Raven. Unfortunately, in The Raven, he is merely a handsome young man and doesn’t get much to do.

The highlight of the picture is the showdown between Karloff and Price. This is a scene they love to show clips of in Price or Corman retrospectives. Price counters Karloff’s zaps with panache and a sweet smile.

I laughed heartily at The Raven and recommend it to lovers of horror with a sense of humor.

Bela and the Baboon

I seem to remember mentioning a cheesy horror flick involving Bela Lugosi and a baboon. Having no other topic at hand, I thought I’d try to write about it: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932).

Full disclosure: I did not watch the whole movie. I didn’t even pay a whole lot of attention to the parts I did watch. For a horror movie based on an Edgar Allen Poe story, starring Bela Lugosi and featuring a killer ape, I found it to be a pretty dull movie.

According to the Guide on digital cable, the movie concerns Lugosi murdering women for his experiments with apes. They had me at Bela Lugosi, but mad scientist and murders (after all, they go together) sounded good too.

The picture opens during Carnival in Paris. Many revelers are having a wonderful time, including a beautiful girl, a handsome man and his not so handsome friend. They go into a side show where they meet Lugosi and the killer ape, although of course they don’t know it’s a killer at the time.

“It’s only a baboon,” comforts Handsome Man when Beautiful Girl is frightened. I don’t know if it was a baboon, a gorilla or an overgrown chimpanzee. I can’t even be sure whether it was an authentic animal or a guy in a suit. These days I suppose they would have faked something up with CGI, quite possibly having first indulged in a little research. I made him a baboon in the headline for alliterative purposes, but you probably guessed that.

I’d like to just say a word about Bela’s hair (I know it’s more proper to refer to him by his last name, but I just feel I want to call him Bela). It’s not the elegant, slicked back Dracula look we are used to. It’s wild, shaggy and almost curly. Like he used volumizing mousse instead of maximum hold gel, although I have no idea what hair products were available at the time this movie was made (I did not indulge in any research while writing this post. Sorry). As a theatre person myself, I have no problem with an actor mixing it up a little, changing appearance to serve the character. It was just a little disconcerting is all. He still has the scariest eyes in show business.

Do I really need to tell anybody that he meets Beautiful Girl and is immediately taken with her? When she gets too close to the cage and the baboon snatches her bonnet, Bela smoothly promises to send her a new one, what’s you address, my dear? Handsome Man blocks that gambit, but not to worry. Bela has at least one henchman who can follow Beautiful Girl home. Just in case anybody was worried that the mad scientist would not get her into his evil clutches eventually.

Apparently he has already had other women in his evil clutches. We only see him actually abduct one, but when the authorities find her dead body (did I need to include a spoiler alert that somebody dies in a movie with “Murders” in the title?), we learn that she is not the first. Soon Handsome Man is investigating the murders, something to do with something in their blood, while letting his Not So Handsome Roommate eat all the lunch.

I stopped paying attention about the time Beautiful Girl gets the new bonnet from Bela and doesn’t worry too much about how he found her, because it’s such a fetching piece of headgear. So I don’t really know how she gets into his evil clutches or even what his evil plan is (although I know it has something to do with blood). Naturally there is a dramatic climax involving the baboon getting loose and climbing all over the city, but like I said, not really watching by that time. I may yet go back and watch it again, paying more attention this time. Which may or may not be worth another blog post.

I never read the story the movie is based on. The next time I go to the library I’ll look for it. Not that I expect it to inform any subsequent viewings of the movie. Hollywood is famous for taking liberties with adaptations and never more so than when they attempt Poe. In their defense, Poe is a very literary writer. Perhaps I should watch a series of movies based on Poe stories, read the stories and write a doctoral thesis (I bet you thought I was going to say blog post). Do you suppose I could find a university that would give me a degree for that?