A Blast From The Past: Vincent (dir by Tim Burton)


Today is Vincent Price’s birthday!

Price was born 111 years ago, in St. Louis, Missouri.  When he first began his film career in the 1930s, he was promoted as a leading man and he was even tested for the role of Ashley Wilkes in Gone With The Wind.  (Imagine that!)  However, Price would find his greatest fame as a horror icon. 

Among the fans of Price’s horror films was a young animator named Tim Burton.  In 1982, Price and Burton would work together for the first time, with Price providing the narration for a short, stop motion film that Burton had written and directed.  Called Vincent, the film was about a seven year-old boy named Vincent who wanted to be — can you guess? — Vincent Price!  The six-minute film follows Vincent as he gets involved in all sorts of macabre activities.  Of course, as Vincent’s mom points out, Vincent isn’t actually a monster or mad scientist.  He’s just a creative child with an overactive imagination.  (To say the short feels autobiographical on Burton’s part would be an understatement.)  The animation is outstanding and full of wit but it really is Vincent Price’s wonderful narration that makes this short film a classic.

Both Price and Burton would later call making this film one of the most creatively rewarding collaborations of their respective careers.

On Vincent Price’s birthday, enjoy Vincent!

What Lisa Marie Watched Tonight: The Love Boat 2.7 “Ship of Ghouls” (dir by Roger Duchovny)


Today, after I finished up Halloween, I switched over to MeTV and I watched a Halloween episode of that very 70s series, The Love Boat!

Why Was I Watching It?

A special Halloween episode of the silliest television series ever!?  And one featuring Vincent Price as an illusionist!?  How couldn’t I watch?

What Was It About?

For the ship’s Halloween cruise, the Amazing Alozno (Vincent Price) has been hired to do his act.  He’s quite the illusionist.  Through a combination of hypnotism and magic, he transforms the ship into a magical wonderland where people turn into donkeys and the pool briefly appears to be a giant ice cream sundae.  But will Alonzo also be able to conjure up love or will he continue to ignore his devoted fiancée and instead, only worry about keeping his fans happy?

Meanwhile, a model (Barbara Anderson) who is recovering from a serious car accident has absolutely no use for illusion.  She just wants to stay in her cabin but her friend, who also happens to be the cruise director, demands that she enjoy the cruise.

What Worked?

Vincent Price as an illusionist!?  Hell yeah!  Okay, the illusions were kind of dumb and never really made sense and the show never actually explained how he could turn Gopher and Doc into donkeys but …. well, isn’t the silliness kind of the point?  The important thing is that he was Vincent Price and he appeared to be having time of his life.  Good for him!

Barbara Anderson actually gave a pretty good dramatic performance as the model.  Admittedly, it did feel a little strange to have this extremely dramatic story playing out beside scenes of Vincent Price turning people into donkeys and transforming the ship’s pool into a giant ice cream sundae but again, I guess that was kind of the appeal of the show.  It’s all weird and somehow, it works.

The boat, incidentally, looked really nice.  I’m going to take a cruise now.

What Did Not Work?

On the Love Boat, everything works!

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I could relate to the model and before anyone rolls their eyes, allow me to explain.  When I was 19, I was in a pretty serious car accident.  The car that I was in flipped over and I basically ended up upside down in the driver’s seat, surrounded by broken glass.  Later, I was told that, when people saw the damage the car, they assumed that I had to have died.  Instead, I only got a few scrapes, bruises, and cuts.  I ended up with two permanent scars — a small one on my hand and then another one on the side of my neck.  And for years, I was so self-conscious of that scar on my neck, even though it faded quickly and I now realize it was barely noticeable.  I obsessed on it, though, both because I disliked having it and also because it reminded me of a traumatic event.  All the angst and worrying that I did about it seems kind of silly now.

Lessons Learned

Love won’t have to hurt anymore.  It’s an open smile on a friendly shore.

Horror on the Lens: The Last Man on Earth (dir. by Ubaldo Ragona and Sidney Salkow)


Hi there and Happy October 27th!  For today’s treat from the ranks of horror films that have fallen into the public domain, I present to you one of the most important films in horror history.  Though it wasn’t appreciated when it was first  released back in 1964, The Last Man On Earth was not only the 1st Italian horror film but George Romero has also acknowledged it as an influence on his own Night of the Living Dead.

It’s easy to be a little bit dismissive of The Last Man On Earth.  After all, the low-budget is obvious in every scene, the dubbing is off even by the standards of Italian horror, and just the name “Vincent Price” in the credits leads one to suspect that this will be another campy, B-movie.  Perhaps that’s why I’m always surprised to rediscover that, taking all things into consideration, this is actually a pretty effective film.  Price does have a few over-the-top moments but, for the most part, he gives one of his better performances here and the black-and-white images have an isolated, desolate starkness to them that go a long way towards making this film’s apocalypse a convincing one.  The mass cremation scene always leaves me feeling rather uneasy.

The film is based on Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend and no, it’s nowhere as good as the book.  However, it’s a lot better than the Will Smith version.

If you have 87 minutes to kill, please enjoy The Last Man On The Earth.

Horror On The Lens: House On Haunted Hill (dir by William Castle)


The original The House on Haunted Hill is a classic and one that we make it a point to share every Halloween.  And since October is nearly over, now seems like the perfect time to do so!

Be sure to check out Gary’s review by clicking here!

Enjoy Vincent Price at his best!

Scenes That I Love: “Help me!” from The Fly


The Fly (1958, D: Kurt Neumann)

One of the great things about the original, 1958 version of The Fly is that, even though it starred Vincent Price, Price didn’t play the Fly.  Instead, for once, Price was allowed to be the voice of reason, the guy who said, “Maybe don’t mess around with the laws of time and space.”

Today’s scene that I love is from the ending of the original Fly.  Supposedly, Price had a hard time filming this scene because whenever he heard the recording of David Hedison crying out, “Help me!,” he would start laughing.  Still, if you know what spiders actually do to the flies that they capture, you can’t help but sympathize with our misdirected scientist in the web.  Destroying him with a rock was probably the most merciful thing that anyone could do.

4 Shots From 4 Vincent Price Films


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

I woke up today to discover that Vincent Price was trending on Twitter. He was specifically trending because someone did a thread about Price’s political activism. This was something that I already knew about but most people on Twitter are stunned to discover that people actually did good things before the creation of social media.

Once I got over feeling elitist and superior, I thought to myself that it was actually kind of nice that people still love Vincent Price. He’s definitely one of my favorite actors. He started out as a mainstream studio actor, reading for the role of Ashley Wilkes in Gone With The Window and being considered for Mr. Potter in It’s A Wonderful Life. But he found his true stardom as a horror actor, bringing life to films that often would have been dead without his wonderful presence.

There’s no way that we can do Horrorthon without paying tribute to the great Vincent Price. Here are….

4 Shots From 4 Vincent Price Films!

House on Haunted Hill (1959, dir by William Castle, DP: Carl E. Guthrie)


The Masque of the Red Death (1964, dir by Roger Corman, DP: Nicolas Roeg)


Witchfinder General (1968, dir by Michael Reeves, DP: John Coquillon)


Scream and Scream Again (1969, dir by Gordon Hessler, DP: John Coquillon)

The Shattered Lens Honors The Birth of Three Icons


Today, the Shattered Lens honors the birth of three cinematic icons!

Vincent Price was born on May 27th, 1911 in St. Louis, Missouri.

Peter Cushing was born on May 26th, 1913 in Kenley, Surrey, England.

Christopher Lee was born on May 27th, 1922 in London, England!

These three gentlemen went on to not only become very good actors but also horror icons! Each, in their own way, is responsible for my own love of cinema. You could argue that, without them, there would be a lot less horror fans in the world. Just as Lee and Cushing introduced a new generation to Dracula and Frankenstein, Price helped to introduce a new generation to the works of Edgar Allan Poe.

On top of all the work they did in the movies, the three of them were apparently good friends off-screen as well!

So, today, take a minute or two to remember three great actors! And, if you want to watch a movie with all three of them at their best, might I suggest Scream and Scream Again? It’s my favorite!

Horror On The Len: The Abominable Dr. Phibes (dir by Robert Fuest)


For today’s horror on the lens, we have one of Vincent Price’s most popular films, 1971’s The Abominable Dr. Phibes!

This is Price at his considerable best.  Be sure to read Gary’ review.

And watch the film below!

Enjoy!

 

The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Madhouse (dir by Jim Clark)


In this 1974 film, Vincent Price plays Paul Toombes, a talented actor who, despite his formal training and his distinguished background, is best-known for giving hammy performances in low-budget horror films.

Hmmm …. do you think Vincent Price possibly could have related to this character?  I mean, one thing that people often forget is that Vincent Price did not start his career in horror movies.  Price started his career as a romantic lead and then he eventually moved into character parts.  He was tested and apparently quite seriously considered for the role of Ashely Wilkes in Gone With The Wind.  Price was also considered for the role of Mr. Potter in It’s A Wonderful Life and rumor has it that he would have gotten the role of Addison DeWitt if George Sanders had turned down All About Eve.  Before he became an icon of horror, Price had roles in big-budget Oscar nominees like The Song of Bernadette and Wilson.  He even appeared in the classic film noir, Laura.

It wasn’t until the 50s that Price started to regularly appear in horror films and soon, that was what he was best known for.  Price’s naturally theatrical style made him a perfect fit for the genre and it won him a legion of adoring fans.  The same can be said of Paul Toombes.

Paul Toombes is best-known for playing the role of Dr. Death.  He appeared in five Dr. Death films, the majority of which were written by his friend, Herbert Flay (Peter Cushing).  Unfortunately, the murder of his fiancée put a temporary end to Toombes’s acting career.  Even though Toombes was acquitted of the crime, everyone seems to assume that he did it.  Apparently, having a nickname like Dr. Death doesn’t do much to convince people of your benevolence.

However, Toombes finally has a chance to rebuild his career!  The BBC wants to produce a Dr. Death TV series and they want Toombes to once again play his most famous role.  The only problem?  People involved with the production are getting murdered, one-by-one.  Is Dr. Death responsible or is he being set up?

Madhouse is kind of an early slasher film, though, with its gloved killer and its whodunit plot, it has more in common with an Italian giallo than an installment of Friday the 13th.  The deaths are bloody but not too bloody.  In fact, for a film that’s full of murder and betrayal, Madhouse is surprisingly good natured.  The main appeal of the film, of course, is to see Vincent Price and Peter Cushing acting opposite of each other.  Though they were both known for appearing in horror films, Price and Cushing were two very different actors and each brought his own individual approach to Madhouse.  Price is his usual flamboyant self while Cushing is considerably more reserved and the contrast of their styles actually creates an interesting dynamic between Toombes and Flay.

Madhouse is also full of footage from previous films that Vincent Price had made for AIP.  (Of course, these movies are presented as being Dr. Death films.)  Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff both appear in archival footage, acting opposite Price.  It’s nice to see them, even if neither one of them was actually alive when Madhouse was filmed.  Paul Toombes actually gets a scene where he praises Bail Rathbone’s performance and one gets the feeling that the sentiments were being expresses as much by Price as by the character he was playing.

Madhouse is okay.  The plot’s not particularly challenging and the tone tends to go all over the place, as if the film can’t decide whether it wants to be a horror movie or a Hollywood satire.  However, the film works whenever Vincent Price is on-screen, which is often.  Price is just fun to watch, especially when he’s teamed up with an old pro like Peter Cushing.  For fans of Price and Cushing, Madhouse is an entertaining chance to watch two icons of horror go at it.

 

Horror Scenes That I Love: Vincent Price’s monologue in Roger Corman’s Masque of the Red Death


This scene, from 1964’s Masque of the Red Death, was directed by Roger Corman, performed by Vincent Price, and shot by Nicolas Roeg.  It was based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe.  That’s a lot of talent on display.

Enjoy!