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)

Horror Film Review: Mr. Sardonicus (dir by William Castle)

The next time that someone gives me a hard time for not being compassionate enough (and believe it or not, it does occasionally happen now that 90% of twitter has gone down the woke rabbit hole), I’m going to point out that I voted to show mercy to Mr. Sardonicus.

Played in villainous fashion by Guy Rolfe, Mr. Sardonicus was the title character of a 1961 film that was produced and directed by William Castle.  Castle was known for being the king of the gimmick.  His gimmick for Mr. Sardonicus was that, upon entering the theater, members of the audience were given two cards.  One card had a thumbs up.  One card had a thumbs down.  Towards the end of the film, the avuncular Mr. Castle appeared onscreen and announced that it was time for the audience to vote.  Should Mr. Sardonicus be punished for his sins or should he be shown mercy?  Thumbs up for mercy.  Thumbs down for punishment.  After taking the vote, Castle said, “Projectionist, play the reel.”

Now, of course, Castle only shot one ending and that was the ending where Mr. Sardonicus was punished.  To make sure the audience would vote the right way, Castle made Sardonicus into one of the most loathsome villains around.  Mr. Sardonicus — or Baron Sardonicus, as he preferred to be called — lived in a castle in the 1880s.  Not only did he torture his servants with leeches but he was also responsible for death of several dogs, all of which were killed as a part of his dastardly experiments.  To make it even worse, he wasn’t even a member of the nobility!  He stole his title!  It turned out that Mr. Sardonicus has once been a simple farmer who allowed his greed to get the better of him.  When his father was buried with a lottery ticket, Mr. Sardonicus dug up the old man to retrieve the ticket.  The shock of seeing his father’s skull caused Mr. Sardonicus’s face to freeze into a twisted grimace.  When the film begins, Mr. Sardonicus wears a mask and desperately wants to be cured of his affliction.

To try to convince Sir Robert Cargrave (Ronald Lewis) to cure his condition, Mr. Sardonicus is holding the woman that Sir Robert loves, Maude (Audrey Dalton), prisoner in a loveless marriage.  With the help of his evil servant, Krull (Oskar Homolka), Mr. Sardonicus torments the villagers and anyone else unlucky enough to come near the castle.

And yet, when I watched this movie last night with the Late Night Movie Gang, I voted to show compassion to Mr. Sardonicus because I’m a firm believer both in criminal justice reform and that almost anyone can be rehabilitated.  Perhaps Mr. Sardonicus just needed someone to say that they believed he could be a better man.  I was willing to do that.  However, the rest of the Late Night Movie Gang voted to punish him.  I think it was the dead dogs that sealed the deal.  So, sorry, Mr. Sardonicus.  I tried.

Even before William Castle tells everyone to vote, Mr. Sardonicus is enjoyably over-the-top and silly horror film.  It plays out like an extended episode of Twilight Zone, with every action that Mr. Sardonicus takes bringing him closer to karma’s judgment.  Guy Rolfe is properly evil and arrogant Sardonicus and Oskar Homolka gets many of the best lines as the servant who may not be as loyal as he seems.

Mr. Sardonicus is currently on YouTube.  Watch and vote for yourself!

Horror On The Lens: The 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 halfway 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!

Horror On The Lens: The 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 halfway 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!

30 Days of Noir #13: Undertow (dir by William Castle)

In the 1949 film, Undertow, Scott Brady plays Tony Reagan.  Tony used to be a member of the Chicago mob but that’s all in the past now.  He served his country in World War II and now, as he tells his old racket friend, Danny (John Russell), all Tony wants to do is settle down and run a hunting lodge in Reno.

However, before Tony can forever abandon Chicago for Nevada, he has to make peace with his future in-laws.  He’s engaged to marry Sally Lee (Dorothy Hart).  In fact, he’s so in love with her that not even meeting a single teacher named Ann McKnight (Peggy Dow) can distract Tony from his plans.  The only problem is that Sally is the niece of a Chicago gangster named Big Jim Lee and, in the past, Big Jim and Tony haven’t always been the best of friends.  In fact, the Chicago police are constantly harassing Tony because they’re convinced that he wants to start a gang war with Big Jim.  Instead, Tony just wants to make peace with Big Jim before the wedding.

Tony goes to visit Big Jim and …. well, you can guess what’s going to happen, can’t you?  If you’ve seen enough film noirs, you know that no one is every totally out of the rackets.  No one believes an ex-mobster when they say that they’re no longer interested in making trouble.  Even worse, any murder committed with automatically be blamed on anyone who says that they’re no longer a member of the rackets.  That’s what happens to Tony.  Not only does he discover that Big Jim has been shot dead but everyone thinks that he’s the one who did it.  Fleeing through the shadowy streets of Chicago, Tony finds himself not only being pursued by the police but also by the murderers.  Everyone wants to either capture or kill Tony.

In fact, the only person who seems to be on Tony’s side is Ann McKnight.  Ann lets Tony hide out at her apartment while he tries to figure out what’s going on.  Of course, Ann does have a nosy landlady who has no hesitation about letting herself into the apartment whenever she feels like it….

The plot of Undertow isn’t going to win any points for originality.  It’s not going to take you long to figure out who is setting Tony up, if just because there really aren’t enough characters in the film for there to be much suspense about who is betraying who.  But no matter!  The film is still an atmospherically shot and briskly-paced thriller.  Undertow was directed by William Castle, who is probably best known for directing campy B-movies like The Tingler and Strait-Jacket.  There’s nothing campy about Castle’s direction of Undertow.  The majority of the film was shot on location and Castle makes great use of Chicago.  When Tony tries to lose the cops that are tailing him, it helps that he’s not running across a soundstage but instead down real city streets, ones that feels alive with tension and danger.  There’s also a great chase that takes place in a long and dark corridor in an underground garage.

Scott Brady (who was the brother of tough-guy actor Lawrence Tierney) gives a sympathetic performance as Tony and he and Peggy Dow have a really likable chemistry in their scenes together.  Dorothy Hart is also well-cast as the film’s femme fatale, while Bruce Bennett has a few good scenes as a detective who is an old friend of Tony’s.  Fans of “classic” matinée idols will want to keep an eye out for Rock Hudson, making a brief appearance in his second film and credited as “Roc” Hudson.

Horror on the Lens: The 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 Erin shared the film’s poster earlier today, 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!

Horror on the Lens: The 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.

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

Enjoy Vincent Price at his best!

Halloween Havoc!: Joan Crawford in STRAIT-JACKET! (Columbia 1964)

cracked rear viewer

It’s time once again to revisit Joan Crawford’s later-day career as a horror star, and this one’s a pretty good shocker. STRAIT-JACKET! was Joan’s follow-up to WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE, the first in the “Older Women Do Horror” genre (better known by the detestable moniker “Psycho-Biddy Movies”). Here she teams for the first time with veteran producer/director William Castle , starring as an axe murderess released after twenty years in an insane asylum, becoming the prime suspect when people begin to get hacked to bits again.

The film itself begins with a 1940’s prolog depicting the gruesome events that occurred when Lucy Harbin (Joan) catches her husband (Lee Majors in his uncredited film debut) in bed with another woman. Joan, all dolled up to resemble her MILDRED PIERCE-era self, grabs the nearest axe and CHOP! CHOP! CHOP! goes hubby and his squeeze into itsy-bitsy pieces. The act is witnessed…

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Halloween TV Havoc!: GHOST STORY “Elegy for a Vampire” (1972)

cracked rear viewer


NBC-TV tried to bring a horror anthology series back to prime time during the 1972-73 season with GHOST STORY, executive produced by the one-and-only William Castle . Sebastian Cabot played Winston Essex, introducing the tales from haunted Mansfield House hotel. GHOST STORY had great writers, including Richard Matheson (who helped develop the concept), Robert Bloch, Harlan Ellison, Henry Slesar, and Hammer vet Jimmy Sangster, some good directors (Richard Doner, John Llewelyn Moxey, Robert Day), and a plethora of Hollywood talent: Karen Black, Kim Darby, Angie Dickinson, Melvyn Douglas, Patty Duke, Jodie Foster, Helen Hayes, Tab Hunter, John Ireland, Janet Leigh, Patricia Neal, Jason Robards, Gena Rowlands, Martin Sheen, and William Windom.

Despite all this, the show got clobbered in the ratings by the CBS FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE and ABC’s comedy duo of ROOM 222 and THE ODD COUPLE. A mid-season title change to CIRCLE OF FEAR (dropping the Cabot segments in the process) didn’t help, and…

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Horror on the Lens: 13 Ghosts (dir by William Castle)

Since I reviewed the remake yesterday, today’s Horror on the Lens is the 1960 original, William Castle’s 13 Ghosts!

Now, William Castle was famous for his gimmicks.  For instance, theaters showing The Tingler were wired to give electrical shocks to random patrons.  He had a special gimmick for 13 Ghosts, a film about a house haunted by ghosts that you can only see while wearing special goggles.  Since I’m a lazy film blogger, I’m going to quote the film’s Wikipedia article on this particular gimmick:

“For 13 Ghosts, audience members were given a choice: the “brave” ones could watch the movie and see the ghosts, while the apprehensive among them would be able to opt out of the horror and watch without the stress of having to see the ghosts. The choice came via the special viewer, supposedly “left by Dr. Zorba.”

In the theatres, most scenes were black and white, but scenes involving ghosts were shown in a “process” dubbed Illusion-O: the filmed elements of the actors and the sets — everything except the ghosts — had a blue filter applied to the footage, while the ghost elements had a red filter and were superimposed over the frame. Audiences received viewers with red and blue cellophane filters. Unlike early 3D glasses where one eye is red and the other is cyan or blue, the Illusion-O viewer required people to look through a single color with both eyes. Choosing to look through the red filter intensified the images of the ghosts, while the blue filter “removed” them. Despite Castle’s claims to the contrary, not many heart failures or nervous breakdowns were averted by the Illusion-O process; although the blue filter did screen out the ghostly images, the ghosts were visible with the naked eye, without the red filter.”

Personally, if I had been alive in 1960, I totally would have watched the whole movie through the red filter.  Go ghosts go!

Anyway, 13 Ghosts is actually a lot of fun in a low-budget, 1960s drive-in sort of way.  Watch it below and, as always, enjoy!