Directed by Roger Corman [Other horror films: The Beast with a Million Eyes (1955), Day the World Ended (1955), It Conquered the World (1956), Not of This Earth (1957), Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957), The Undead (1957), War of the Satellites (1958), The Wasp Woman (1959), A Bucket of Blood (1959), House of Usher (1960), The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), The Premature Burial (1962), Tales of Terror (1962), Tower of London (1962), The Terror (1963), X (1963), The Haunted Palace (1963), The Masque of the Red Death (1964), The Tomb of Ligeia (1964), Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound (1990)]
For many, this is a classic film, an enjoyable blend of horror and comedy, but I have to admit that, despite the fantastic cast, this movie really didn’t do a thing for me.
Which is a damn shame, as you can imagine. I mean, check out the cast – Vincent Price (House on Haunted Hill, The Haunted Palace, and Theatre of Blood), Boris Karloff (Frankenstein, The Black Cat, The Ghoul, and The Walking Dead), and Peter Lorre (Mad Love, The Beast with Five Fingers, and You’ll Find Out) are the central actors, and what a great mix it is. A young Jack Nicholson (The Shining and The Terror) appears throughout, and we also get some Hazel Court (The Premature Burial, Ghost Ship, The Masque of the Red Death, and The Curse of Frankenstein). All of these performances (and throw in Olive Sturgess for good measure) were solid.
I just don’t care for the story, though, which is very heavily entwined with comedy and fantasy. It started out strong, with some stanzas from Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem being read by Price, but as soon as the raven (Lorre’s character who was transformed during a failed magical duel with Karloff’s sinister warlock character) flew in, I was just taken aback. Don’t get me wrong, I knew the film was partly comedy, but I didn’t quite realize it’d play so heavily a part, and some of the intended comedy just didn’t do much for me (such as Nicholson’s scene on the carriage).
And of course, this isn’t to take away from the performances, which were fantastic throughout, and they even managed a few pretty good scenes (I personally think the best one was Nicholson’s character traversing a ledge outside Karloff’s castle in order to get to another room, which held quality tension), but then there was a lengthy magical duel at the end between Price and Karloff which went on for at least six minutes with zero dialogue, and I can’t express how drowsy that made me.
Vincent Price is one of my personal favorite actors of the horror genre, being in multiple movies I absolutely love (such as the aforementioned House on Haunted Hill and Theatre of Blood), so it gives me no pleasure to admit that I didn’t care for this, especially because I also have a huge respect for Lorre and Karloff. The story just wasn’t my cup of tea, though, and I just did not derive much in the way of enjoyment from this whatsoever.
Most people enjoy this one, though, so if you’re into classic movies, by all means, give it a shot. Just know what you’re going into.