The Halloween season is one of my favorite times of the year and by no coincidence whatsoever yields all of my favorite kinds of films. To warm up I decided to start my first  of October Double Feature with two of my favorite eccentrics Vincent Price and Edgar Allen Poe.

220px-MasqueOfTheRedDeath(1964film)Poe’s Masque of the Red Death had always been my favorites of Poe’s repertoire as I generally find it a marvelous study of human decadence corruption, and divine retribution. I’d certainly been aware of the Roger Corman version I never was particularly interested in it because I’d heard that it took some serious liberties with the material. While this is indeed true it’s mainly because once you get past a vivid description of the castle and the party and the inevitable climax there really isn’t that much to work with.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Corman did a good job padding the plot, along with mixing in the plot of another Poe story, Hop Frog. Vincent Price is great playing Prince Prospero as a sadistic tyrant who holds up the nobility in his castle as his lands die of the red death (though personally I thought making him a Satanist as well was overdoing it.) The Red Death is treated as a cold force of nature, yes it serves justice to Prospero in the end but with only six people surviving does it really count? It’s not so much a case of serving retribution as it is going after Prospero because he dared trying to break the rules. I liked how most people seemed to take it almost for granted frequently mistaking it for a priest when it appears.

All in all I enjoyed if very much with my only big complaint being all of the heroes having the combined intellect of a brick.

The other film I picked An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe turned out to be a short collection of Price reciting four of Poe’s stories. This made for what were essentially four one man stage plays, which Price did very well and made for a good introduction to the material. I found it interesting since I’d heard Price do several of those stories in audiobooks. In most of those he did the readings completely straight but in this production this was over the top even by Price’s atmospheric standards.