Macabre castles, Vincent Price, Les Baxter’s music, extraordinary movie posters (I want my book covers to be like them,) the over dramatic head turn, and cocked brows are just of some the things I love about B-Movies and thank the Digital Gods for allowing me to find them somewhat easily. These were a staple in our house growing up, they’d be played on Chicago’s WGN or other channels like it; we had maybe eight channels in our cable pack back in the 80s. And, after watching a few of them recently, I see how they’ve influenced my writing style more than Clive Barker.
You might guess who my favorite B-Movie Star is, I did mention him earlier. Yes, Vincent Price. I think I’ve seen most of his movies a few times, maybe, even all, who knows. He’s always intrigued me as an actor. The way he reacts/interacts with co-actors, sets and props is like nothing I’ve seen with any other actor; my favorite, his cocked brow, which I wish I could do, but for some reason mine won’t do it without taking the other with it.
American International Pictures produced eight films in “The Corman-Poe cycle,” and are an interesting group of B-Movies drawing me in. (Bizarre side note, AIP was founded on April 2, 1954 and I was born April 2 several years, a decade and some, later.) While that’s what they were called and might have shared the title of Poe titles, Corman took great creative license with them, which is awesome, but it doesn’t mean that they are a direct translation from print. For the month of October, I’ll be talking about them.
House of Usher (1960) was the first in the series of Corman-Poe movies, and probably the closest adaptation of the eight movies. AIP put their best foot forward with this one. The minimal special effects are strange using color and smoke, and the soundtrack was composed by Les Baxter adding to the dramatic beauty. Price is edgy in the role of Roderick, and his bleached hair attempts to make him look older; I wish I could get that tone when I do mine. I’m sure I’ll mention this about every movie, and it must be said, the sets are unbelievable and wonderful and fun. Myrna Fahey as Madeline Usher doesn’t deny me of her screams, and while there are only a few, every single one is a delight.
Get started on your binge of the Corman-Poe cycle with House of Usher, I give it 4.5 out of 5 Stars.