If there were a Mount Rushmore of horror icons, Vincent Price would undoubtedly be on there. The man embraced horror and played his characters with such enthusiasm and charisma that it’s impossible to not be absolutely enchanted with him and his performances. And who can forget his unique voice, the one that opened up “Thriller” and narrated Vincent? He truly was one of the greats and today we are thrilled to have a guest spot that pays homage to the late Mr. Price.
Allow me to introduce you to Human Furnace, the vocalist for Cleveland, OH hardcore/thrash metal band Ringworm. A massive horror fan, HF has put together a Top 10 list of his favorite Vincent Price films from over the years.
HF opens by telling Bloody-Disgusting:
What’s lost most in today’s world of horror, often dependent on special effects, CGI, and over the top gore is great and timeless acting. It’s a shame that many of today’s more de-sensitized youth don’t appreciate as much as they should. It’s cliche, but when it’s said “They don’t make ’em like they used to” in regards to Vincent Price, they couldn’t ring more true. So, what can you say about Vincent Price that hasn’t been said before? Master of Macabre, The Merchant of Menace, Actor, Cook, Champion of the Arts. The term “Legend” gets tossed around an awful lot, but in regards to Vincent Price, few can argue, that that’s what the man was and is. They’ll never be another like him. Being a huge Price fan, making a list of my top 10 proved to be pretty tough. But to be fair, “My favorites” may not always equal “his best”. A fan since a youngster, many of his films hold so much nostalgic and impressionable value to me, it’s really hard to pick just 10. Anyway, I’ll give it a try. So, in no particular order, here’s few of my personal favorites. Have fun. Watch Vincent Price movies.
On top of the Vincent Price list, we’ve also got an exclusive lyric video premiere of “Innocent Blood”, which appears on the upcoming album Snake Church (out July 29th via Relapse Records). You can pre-order the new album via Relapse.
Click ‘Play’ and check out HF’s list below!
The House of Usher (1960)
The first of many collaborations with director Roger Corman throughout the 1960’s that leaned on the writings of Edgar Allen Poe, Price’s elegant and fragile portrayal of the doomed Roderick Usher, combined with Corman’s ability to make remarkably stylish films with basically no budget, House of Usher still manages to stand the test of time. Price’s classic theatrical background really shines in every one of the Price/Corman team ups, Especially this one. Price’s “over acting” is an absolute joy to watch.
The House on Haunted Hill (1958)
In this William Castle “cheese filled” gem, Vincent’s cold-hearted performance as an “oh so gracious host” to his unsuspecting guests and his venomous wife is just plain fun to watch. Price was an absolute master at making an otherwise corny films quite believable by taking almost everything seriously. There’s a really great scare in this, that gets me every time to. A definite “Saturday afternoon” classic for me as a kid.
The Haunted Palace (1963)
The Raven, The Comedy of Terrors, Twice-Told Tales, The Last Man on Earth, The Masque of the Red Death…1963-1964 were a great couple years for Vinny. I love all of the aforementioned films, especially, when Price steps into the comedic arena. But it’s his work in 1963’s Corman directed The Haunted Palace that really gets me pumped up. Despite all it’s flaws, I really love the way Price plays the weak willed Charles Ward and ultimately, Joseph Curwen, the evil warlock that takes possession of his body. Sold as another “Poe” inspired film, it’s actually based off an H.P. Lovecraft story. It would have been nice to see a deliberate Lovecraft/Price/Corman collaboration, albeit, HP’s work is far more grotesque and perhaps too graphic for the time to pull off correctly. Who knows? Not Vincent’s best movie but I love his evilness in this one.
The Masque of the Red Death (1964)
Although it was in the 1950’s when Price began his accent in Horror stardom, I think it wasn’t until the 1960’s when he really cemented his place as the Master of Horror (due largely to his collaborations with Corman). The darker, more fiendish roles allowed him to really use his classically trained theater skills to nail some of his roles with believable and devilish accuracy. Point in case, 1964’s The Masque of the Red Death. Here we find Price as Prince Prospero, a loyal and compassionless follower of Satan. Corman, compared to most of his other films, was able to work with a significantly higher budget for this one and he made the most of it. Elaborate set design, great use of color, amongst other high points, but it’s Price’s outstanding performance as Satan’s lap dog that make this one a legitimate favorite of mine, as well as, in my opinion, one his best films with Corman.
The Conquer Worm aka Witchfinder General (1968)
Price’s performance as the malicious 17th century witch hunter, Matthew Hopkins, is outstanding, in my opinion. Vincent was a master in benign callousness and in this film you find him at best. A personal favorite. Especially his gruesome demise.
The House of Wax (1953)
This was arguably Vincent’s first step into being one of Horrors all-time icons and he knocked it out of the park. I particularly love the rich colors and excellent set design. As in many of his films to come, Vincent’s character starts sympathetic and good natured, and through viscous acts of others becomes the grotesquely disfigured villain as he acts out his revenge on those who wronged him. This is one of things I love most about many of his films. His ability to play both sides of the coin so perfectly. Even though he may be the villain, you root for him the entire time. Plus, it was the first 3D US film to be made in color, and released in stereophonic sound.
BONUS POINTS: It features a young, but silent, Chuck Bronson. So there’s that.
The Raven (1963)
Co-starring Peter Lorre, Hazel Court, a young as shit Jack Nicholson, and, of course, the great Boris Karloff, this Price / Corman film really stacks the deck. One of the earliest Horror-Comedies, Price and Lorre’s on screen “Abbott and Costello” type chemistry is amazing. It really shows Vincent’s ability for humor. This is one of those films that as a very young kid had me absolutely glued to the tube on Friday night. Great memories watching this one. One of my favorites.
The Comedy of Terrors (1963)
Though Price will always be remembered (and with good reason) as the Master of Horror, what’s often overlooked is his remarkable sense of humor. Here we see him teamed up again with the hilarious Peter Lorre, horror legend Boris Karloff, and for good measure, Basil Rathbone. Price and Lorre play two “going out of business” undertakers who find an alternate way to drum up business. Fun movie.
The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)
One of the most remarkable talents that Price possessed was his sinister voice, and in this absolute cult classic, he doesn’t even have to open his mouth to turn in an absolute sterling performance. Price plays Anton Phibes, a man set on revenge to all those responsible for the death of his beloved wife. But oh no, regular deaths won’t due, Dr. Phibes plans his revenge old testament style and it’s awesome. A unique, one of a kind performance by Price, inventive death scenes, fantastic art deco sets, great costumes and a good amount of humor, supplied by the bumbling police (always one step behind) make this fun and stylish blast of the early 70’s and yet another great Vincent Price “revenge” film. But if you ask me, most of these are love stories.
The Last Man on Earth (1964)
On the surface, this film may seem simplistic in nature, but if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find a lot of social commentary, and irony that is quite timeless. Which is probably why its been made and remade a few times over. (albeit with different names and with varying degrees of success) A precursor to Romero’s Night of Living Dead, The Last Man on Earth finds Price, just that. The last of his kind, desperately searching for a cure (that he himself may hold) to the disease that has wiped out humanity. He is relentlessly stalked after sundown by masses of undead, vampire like humans that now populate the earth. Good stuff.