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The Vincent Price Collection (US Blu-Ray Review)

Specs

Specs

Details

Director: Roger Corman, Michael Reeves, Robert Fuest
Cast: Vincent Price, Mark Damon, Myrna Fahey, Debra Paget, Lon Chaney, Jr., Hazel Court, Jane Asher, Patrick Magee, John Kerr, Barbara Steele, Luana Anders, Ian Ogilvy, Rupert Davies, Patrick Wymark, Joseph Cotten, Hugh Griffith, Terry-Thomas, Virginia North, Peter Jeffrey
Year: 1960 – 1971
Length: 516 min
Rating: PG-13
Region: A
Disks: 4
Label: SHOUT! Factory
Release Date: Oct 22th, 2013

Video

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio:
House of Usher – 2.35:1
The Pit and the Pendulum – 2.35:1
The Haunted Palace – 2.35:1
The Masque of the Red Death – 2.35:1
Witchfinder General – 1.85:1
The Abominable Dr. Phibes – 1.85:1
Type: Color

Audio

Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Subtitles: English

Extras

FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER

  • Vintage Introduction and final words from Vincent Price
  • Audio Commentary with Roger Corman
  • Vincent Price Retrospective Commentary with author Lucy Chase Williams featuring Piotr Michael as the voice of Vincent Price
  • Audio interview with Vincent Price by historian David Del Valle
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery

THE HAUNTED PALACE

  • Vintage Introduction and final words from Vincent Price
  • Audio Commentary by author Lucy Chase Williams (The Complete Films of Vincent Price) and Richard Heft
  • Audio Commentary by author Tom Weaver
  • A Change of Poe – an interview with director Roger Corman
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery

THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH

  • Vintage Introduction and final words from Vincent Price
  • Audio Commentary by author Steve Haberman (Silent Screams: The History of the Silent Horror Film)
  • Interview with Roger Corman
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery

THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM

  • Vintage Introduction and final words from Vincent Price
  • Prologue to the film
  • Audio Commentary with Roger Corman
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery

WITCHFINDER GENERAL

  • Vintage Introduction and final words from Vincent Price
  • Audio Commentary with producer Philip Waddilove and actor Ian Ogilvy
  • Witchfinder General: Michael Reeves’ Horror Classic
  • Vintage Interview with Vincent Price conducted by film historian David Del Valle (1987)
  • Vincent and Victoria: an Interview with Victoria Price
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Additional Vincent Price Theatrical Trailers
  • Still Gallery

THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES

  • Audio Commentary with director Robert Fuest
  • Audio Commentary with author Justin Humphreys (Names You Never Remember, With Faces You Never Forget)
  • Introductory Price: Undertaking “The Vincent Price Gothic Horrors”
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery

the vincent price collection from shout factoryIn the era of the 1960’s horror scene, there was rarely a partnership as influential or as consistently fruitful as the pairing of Vincent Price and Roger Corman. Corman, being a business savvy lover of horror literature and cinema as a form of entertainment, and Price, being a skilled performer of genre film and a theatrically trained actor in his own right, combined their sensibilities and added a sense of low-budget authenticity and class to their output, which translated often into impressive box office returns and fervent fandom. Whether as director or as producer, Corman knew the strengths and potential of Price when given the opportunity to revel in melodramatic, terror-twinged fantasy and Price, as a performer, knew Corman would give him the freedom and communication he needed to wrangle in his unconventional acting style. And with both minds working in tandem, often with the voice of Edgar Allen Poe or H.P. Lovecraft as their guide, the results were marvelous, grandiose tales of mind-bending madness.

Roger Corman's House of Usher (1960) [Click to enlarge]

Roger Corman’s House of Usher (1960) [Click to enlarge]

Vincent Price and Mark Damon in House of Usher (1960) [Click to enlarge]

Vincent Price and Mark Damon in House of Usher (1960) [Click to enlarge]

Myrna Fahey in House of Usher (1960) [Click to enlarge]

Myrna Fahey in House of Usher (1960) [Click to enlarge]

And as horror fans have patiently waited for a proper home media release of some of the pair’s finest outings, SHOUT! Factory rushed to the rescue, releasing six of Price’s best films with American International Pictures in High Definition under their SCREAM Factory banner. Just in time for Halloween, The Vincent Price Collection provides multiple faces of Price in his most iconic performances: as the physically expressive Doctor Phibes, the villainous Matthew Hopkins, the helpless Roderick Usher and more. For fans of Price and Corman, this is a fine collection of macabre and bizarre, campy and creepy, and accentuates just how instrumental Price’s performances were to the creative—and financial—success of these AIP productions.

Films

In a traditional sense, the films featured in The Vincent Price Collection are incredibly strong and wonderfully composed in a way that’s thematically and technically in line with the techniques of the day. The performances are often extravagant and sensational, the art direction is often baroque and inspired and the direction is much more derivative of the literary material and holding a classical visual influence from the black and white horror films that came before it. The films in the collection include The Pit & The Pendulum, The Haunted Palace, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Masque of The Red Death, The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Witchfinder General, and each of course have their respective strengths and weaknesses.

Roger Corman's The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) [Click to enlarge]

Roger Corman’s The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) [Click to enlarge]

Roger Corman's The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) [Click to enlarge]

Roger Corman’s The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) [Click to enlarge]

Vincent Price and Barbara Steele in The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) [Click to enlarge]

Vincent Price and Barbara Steele in The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) [Click to enlarge]

The Pit & The Pendulum showcases Price at his most multifaceted, working off of Richard Matheson’s script with his frenzied depiction of a man descending into madness. The Haunted Palace has Price formulating the vengeful villain role he would later perfect, using the twisted occult aspects of it’s H.P. Lovecraft origins to remove much of the emotion that he often injected in his characters. The Masque of the Red Death provides an abstract look at horror that would become a signature for Corman, allowing Price to be more outwardly mischievous in this particular film rather than purely evil. The Fall of the House of Usher may hold the best Price performance in the set, as Price’s iconic take on Roderick Usher feels so devoted and fully-formed that the wickedly overwrought performance almost seems completely genuine and legitimately fearful. The Witchfinder General has Price at his most sadistic, playing an irredeemable villain who is much more bloodthirsty and powermad as any role before it. Lastly, The Abominable Dr. Phibes has Price at his most minimal, often relying on his physicality to support his character’s emotions and intentions, yet succeeding at every practical obstacle.

Filmmaking-wise, each film feels so separate from one another that at times, aside from simpatico scores between each entry, the only connective tissue is the source material and Price himself. Pendulum, directed by Corman, is the most traditionally gothic of the films, often relishing in the medieval sets and costumes and rarely providing a visual sense beyond the standard framing structure. Haunted Palace, also directed by Corman, has a slicker sense of color and and contrast, allowing a slightly more visually composed picture and surreal influence to permeate through the story. Red Death, directed by Corman once more, uses an enhanced color scheme and a more chaotic, at times energetically so, visual guideline and often relies on wider frames for the benefit of the incredible art department. Usher, the last on the set directed by Corman himself, is incredibly classical in it’s influence, using its singular location and flexibility regarding the dreamlike portions to create his most haunting and immersive vision on the set. Robert Fuest’s Phibes is incredibly era-appropriate and psychedelic, even mixing in dark humor and eccentricity to create a bizarre and infectiously fun camp classic. Michael Reeves’ Witchfinder General is the most infused of it’s region, with a sharp picture, soft colors and a healthy dose of bloody nihilism.

Vincent Price, Debra Paget, and Lon Chaney, Jr. in The Haunted Palace (1963) [Click to enlarge]

Vincent Price, Debra Paget, and Lon Chaney, Jr. in The Haunted Palace (1963) [Click to enlarge]

Vincent Price in The Haunted Palace (1963) [Click to enlarge]

Vincent Price in The Haunted Palace (1963) [Click to enlarge]

Roger Corman's The Haunted Palace (1963) [Click to enlarge]

Roger Corman’s The Haunted Palace (1963) [Click to enlarge]

Video

In one of SHOUT!’s finest sets to date, the picture and definition of this set are almost pristine. While some films are more crisp than others, especially Phibes and Usher, the video transfer is rather impeccable, with healthy grain indicative of the stock in appearance but never distractingly heavy, and the colors of the set seem to flourish in the films in which they’re emphasized the most (Red Death). There is little damage to the film stock, and everything appears to be in sync and lush in the picture. Furthermore, there is no artificial-looking edge sharpening or DNR filtering in evidence, giving the whole set a beautifully filmic look. On technical grounds alone, this Vincent Price set further cements SHOUT! Factory’s reputation as one of today’s finest exponents of genre cinema on blu-ray!

Vincent Price and Patrick Magee in The Masque of the Red Death (1964) [Click to enlarge]

Vincent Price and Patrick Magee in The Masque of the Red Death (1964) [Click to enlarge]

Vincent Price and Jane Asher in The Masque of the Red Death (1964) [Click to enlarge]

Vincent Price and Jane Asher in The Masque of the Red Death (1964) [Click to enlarge]

Vincent Price in The Masque of the Red Death (1964) [Click to enlarge]

Vincent Price in The Masque of the Red Death (1964) [Click to enlarge]

Audio

Audio is always in high regard with SHOUT!’s sets, and this set is no different. The music is clear and beautifully hiss-free, with dialogue, ADR or otherwise, appropriately leveled to the rest of the mix. Not a single film in the set ever sounds muffled or otherwise altered, marking another win in this department for SHOUT!.

Vincent Price in The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) [Click to enlarge]

Vincent Price in The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) [Click to enlarge]

Virginia North in The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) [Click to enlarge]

Virginia North in The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) [Click to enlarge]

Vincent Price in The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) [Click to enlarge]

Vincent Price in The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) [Click to enlarge]

Extras

The features vary from film to film, but overall, this is an impressive and earned win for the fans of Price. Every film with the exception of Phibes has an introduction by Price himself from a series of hosting gigs he did for an Iowa television program. There is audio commentary, interviews, trailers, and even additions from Corman and a Price impersonator, Piotr Michael. Perhaps the highlight of the set is on the Witchfinder disc, as Film Historian David Del Valle interviews Price himself from the past that’s utterly fascinating. If you’re a fan of the era, there’s more than enough to keep you visiting this set time and time again.

Vincent Price in Witchfinder General (1968) [Click to enlarge]

Vincent Price in Witchfinder General (1968) [Click to enlarge]

Witchfinder General (1968) [Click to enlarge]

Witchfinder General (1968) [Click to enlarge]

Ian Ogilvy and Hilary Dwyer in Witchfinder General (1968) [Click to enlarge]

Ian Ogilvy and Hilary Dwyer in Witchfinder General (1968) [Click to enlarge]

Bottom Line

If you’re a fan of Price, Corman or AIP, this set is a no-brainer purchase. The films are excellent, the transfers are top-notch and the features are engaging, with SHOUT! taking the utmost care and respect in designing this particular collection. It’s the definitive look at a wonderfully subversive time in Price’s career, and well worth any price SHOUT! is asking. I would also suggest this set to be a wonderful jumping in point for those unfamiliar with Price, as it contains some of his most accessible and surreal efforts that show off the actor’s strong suit.

Details Director: Roger Corman, Michael Reeves, Robert Fuest Cast: Vincent Price, Mark Damon, Myrna Fahey, Debra Paget, Lon Chaney, Jr., Hazel Court, Jane Asher, Patrick Magee, John Kerr, Barbara Steele, Luana Anders, Ian Ogilvy, Rupert Davies, Patrick Wymark, Joseph Cotten, Hugh Griffith, Terry-Thomas, Virginia North, Peter Jeffrey Year: 1960 - 1971 Length: 516 min Rating: PG-13 Region: A Disks: 4 Label: SHOUT! Factory Release Date: Oct 22th, 2013 Video Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Resolution: 1080p Aspect Ratio: House of Usher - 2.35:1 The Pit and the Pendulum - 2.35:1 The Haunted Palace - 2.35:1 The Masque…

Review Overview

Films
Video
Audio
Extras

Bottom Line

User Rating: 4.85 ( 1 votes)

About Ken W. Hanley

Ken W. Hanley is the Web Editor for Fangoria Magazine, as well as a contributing writer for Diabolique Magazine. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on several screenplays spanning over different genres and subject matter, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.

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