TALES OF TERROR

PrintE-mail Written by Anthony Cowin

BLU-RAY REVIEW: TALES OF TERROR / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: ROGER CORMAN / SCREENPLAY: RICHARD MATHESON / STARRING: VINCENT PROCE, PETER LORRE, MAGGIE PIERCE, LEONA CAGE, JOYCE JAMESON / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 9TH

There are whispers in certain horror circles the only reason Tales of Terror works is little to do with Allan Edgar Poe at all. That the real reason this anthology works is due to Vincent Prince and the master of low budget gothic, Roger Corman. Poe is almost an afterthought in these tales. Screenwriter Richard Matheson and Corman use the Poe catalogue as a Pick ‘n’ Mix selection to build this adaptation in their own loose style.

The overall technique works well for the most part. The first story, Morella, is an exquisite gothic period piece. It has Corman’s trademarks of burning castles and prodigal relatives. This time, Lenora (Pierce) returns to the father (Price) who abandoned her as a child, only to discover the spirit of her dead mother (Gage) has deadly plans for their daughter. Full of dust, cobwebs and melancholy, Morella is a delight that takes you back to a more innocent age of horror.

The Black Cat is the second segment and is offered as something of a comic relief or a breath between the two real terrors. Peter Lorre is on form as the drunk playing against Vincent Price’s upstanding wine expert Fortunato Luchresi. This is a rebadged version of The Cask of Amontillado. The Black Cat is a battle of wills as much as a battle of swills and swigs. The story is an examination of guilt as much as revenge. Two of Poe’s great themes. Though often dismissed as the weak link in Tales of Terror, The Black Cat is still enjoyable to watch.

The final story, The Case of M. Valdemar, reverts back to a straighter gothic horror element and has Price playing the protagonist completely from his deathbed. He hopes the mystic hypnotist Carmichael, played by Basil Rathbone, can successfully arrest his life at the moment of death. Carmichael’s intentions toward Mrs. Valdermar (played wonderfully by Debra Paget) are unscrupulous. As this is Poe, we know the path to desire and immorality will not be without manifestations of guilt. The sight of Price in the final scene is shocking even after all these years.

Tales of Terror is a film that takes the viewer back to matte-painted scenes, soundstage sets, and 19th century romantic gothic sensibilities and is a treat for all of that. It’s also become a classic for good reasons; it was the first film to pick up Ealing’s Dead of Night legacy, even before Amicus, for example. It also set the tone for gothic horror for a generation on TV as well as cinema. So it’s fantastic Arrow Films have remastered it for a new generation of viewers to enjoy.

This transfer is better than average quality while any defects or flaws only add to the charm. That’s a statement that could describe the whole of Tales of Terror, in fact.

Special Features: The Directors: Roger Corman documentary / Cats in Horror Films featurette / Kim Newman on Edgar Allan Poe / The Black Cat short film / Trailer / Collector’s booklet
 

SHARE YOUR COMMENTS BELOW OR ON TWITTER @STARBURST_MAG

Find your local STARBURST stockist HERE, or buy direct from us HERE. For our digital edition (available to read on your iOS, Android, Amazon, Windows 8, Samsung and/or Huawei device - all for just £1.99), visit MAGZTER DIGITAL NEWSSTAND.

CLICK TO BUY!

MORE FROM AROUND THE WEB:



Suggested Articles:
Long before Robert Downey Jr. or Benedict Cumberbatch ever portrayed Sherlock Holmes on our screens
Polish writer/director Walerian Borowczyk was quite the card. In a 40-year career (he died in 2006),
Getting a new release from the BFI following their recent Scorsese celebration, Alice Doesn’t Live
Make no mistake, this isn’t competing with the likes of The Abyss or Das Boot, either for expansiv
scroll back to top

Add comment

Security code
Refresh

Other articles in DVD / Blu-ray Reviews

SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION 22 March 2017

THE STORY OF SIN 20 March 2017

ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE 20 March 2017

THE CHAMBER 20 March 2017

THE WARTIME CHRONICLES 20 March 2017

PIECES 18 March 2017

SOLARIS 18 March 2017

WHO'S THAT KNOCKING AT MY DOOR 18 March 2017

THE DOCTORS: THE JON PERTWEE YEARS 17 March 2017

FRIGHT NIGHT 14 March 2017

- Entire Category -

Sign up today!
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner