Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween Count Down: Day 5-Masque of the Red Death (1964)

Masque of the Red Death, base on the story by Edgar Allen Poe and brought to the screen by Roger Corman (his first production filmed in England) is a favorite of mine. I first saw it when I was eight years old on the Channel 7 (WABC TV here in New York) 4:30 Movie.

Vincent Price is sinister as Satan worshipping Prince Prospero who gathers nobles into his castle while the 'Red Death', a plague that causes the victims to ooze blood out of every pore and orifice, ravages the land. He enjoys the suffering of others, and kidnaps a poor christen girl from the village he had burned down in order to try and corrupt her.

Price seems to relish the role of the evil prince, who is so smug and pretentious that you want him to get what's coming in the end. Hazel Court, beautiful as ever, is often overlooked in this film which is a shame since she turns in a wonderful performance as Juliana the bride to be of Satan. Jane Asher looked every bit the lost innocent amongst the nasty nobles, who tries to hold on to her beliefs and virtue.

Special praise I think should be paid to Patrick Magee (Alfredo), Skip Martin (Hop-Toad) and Verina Greenlaw (Esmeralda), who make up the sub plot of the movie base on Poe's short story Hop-Frog, which is one of my favorite parts of the movie (and one of my favorite Poe stories as well). Personally, I think this should of been it's own movie, but it's done so well here I really can't complain.

The film looks above and beyond it's budget, due in part to two things. One, Corman took advantage of British tax laws to save money and put that money back into the production, and two he got to shoot on the set for Becket (1964) which had just wrapped so he didn't have to build anything.

I own the DVD (available at Amazon) and will definitely be playing this on Halloween.

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!

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