THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER(1960; ROGER CORMAN)
"Is there no end to your horrors?"
"No. None whatever. For they are not mine alone."
Roderick Usher is certainly a role that Vincent Price seemed born to play. Seeing him here, speaking Poe and Richard Matheson's dialogue, one can't help but understand why Corman's 'Poe Cycle' was successful. Vincent Price has that wonderful 'man out of time' quality about him as an actor. You sincerely believe him as a man of the period in which the film takes place. The way he speaks, the way the costumes suit him, he really inhabits the world of Poe perfectly. Much like Warren Oates after him could play a character from the old west and beyond, Price and Poe are truly a match made in heaven. Props to Corman are due as well. For a man as notorious for working on a budget as he was, he creates a nice sense of atmospheric dread here. For a movie as talky as this is, it is nonetheless mesmerizing and Vincent Price is a huge part of that.
Arrow has put together a wonderful disc here. The transfer looks lovely. Cinematographer Floyd Crosby shoots a good looking widescreen frame. He was a regular collaborator with Corman, but in addition to that shot classics like HIGH NOON and THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA(& one of my favorites - SHACK OUT ON 101). The disc is also stacked with great extras. Included is of course a commentary from Corman himself. Additionally there is a neat TV interview with Vincent Price that was done for French Television in 1986. In it, he speaks if his varied career and is quite charming. There is also a great interview with director and long time Corman collaborator Joe Dante. Joe is always very articulate and is much so here as he recounts his history with Roger and moves on to reflections on his Poe films. I especially liked a bit where Dante talks about several of the practical filmmaking techniques that Roger taught him. As he says in the interview, much of it is common sense, but in a time of ever inflating budgeted studio films it seems many directors could take a lesson from Corman the pragmatist.
But wait, there's more! Also:
-High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the feature, transferred from original film elements by MGM
-Original uncompressed 2.0 Mono PCM Audio
-Interview with author and Gothic horror expert Jonathan Rigby
-Fragments of the House of Usher: A Specially-commissioned video essay by critic and filmmaker David Cairns examining Corman's film in relation to Poe's story
-Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
-Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by author and critic Tim Lucas and an extract from Vincent Price's long out of print autobiography, illustrated with original archive stills and posters
This Blu-ray is available from Arrow Video as both a Blu-ray and a Steelbook set: