When you talk horror icons, many names come to the table, but perhaps none is more deserving than Vincent Price. He is the Babe Ruth of horror, and an entire new collection of the best of his best became available TODAY, October 21st.
Fresh on the heels of last year’s The Vincent Price Collection, Vol. I (review), Scream Factory is releasing The Vincent Price Collection, Vol. II (review) with an entirely new helping of classic horrors. We’d like to take this time to highlight our favorite Top 5 Films from The Vincent Price Collection Vol. II.
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
A millionaire offers $10K to five people who agree to be locked in a spooky house overnight. Sounds simple enough. Vincent Price stars as Frederick Loren in this 1959 film. The movie was directed and produced by William Castle and was best known for its famous gimmick Emergo, which was executed during its theatrical release. Emergo consisted of an elaborate pulley system that Castle had set up in select theaters that flew a skeleton over the audience at appropriate times during the film. The movie would go on to earn $1.5 million on a $200,000 budget, but more impressive was the fact that the low-budget style of House on Haunted Hill inspired Alfred Hitchcock to go out and film his own movie in the same style. That movie would go on to be Psycho.
The Return of the Fly (1959)
Price was the only cast member from the original film to return for this sequel to The Fly, which (in true 50’s horror fashion) features the son of Andre Delambre, Phillipe, looking to complete his father’s work and do some teleporting of his own. Price returns as Phillipe’s Uncle Francois, who hears of Phillipe’s plan and initially will not help him–that is, until Phillipe forces his hand by threatening to sell his stake in the family business. Francois relents, and hilarity ensues. Not only does The Return of the Fly feature another fly/human hybrid, as Phillipe becomes PhillipeFly, but we also get a police officer that ends up with the hands of guinea pig. You’ve gotta raise the bar in the sequel, folks. And that’s just what they did in The Return of the Fly.
The Comedy of Terrors (1963)
I’ve always considered this an intriguing subject. The Comedy of Terrors is the story of an undertaker who attempts to kill people to help drum up his personal business. Unfortunately, in this one the dead won’t stay that way. Reuniting Price with Peter Lorre and Boris Karloff, who worked together on The Raven earlier in 1963, The Comedy of Terrors is a horror-comedy that was written by Richard Matheson, who had previously penned I Am Legend, which would go on to inspire Price’s film The Last Man on Earth as well as Return of the Living Dead and several other re-imaginings of the story. Price highlights the hilarious cast, which also features Basil Rathbone as John F. Black, another man who just would not stay dead. The movie shows that the undertaker business is not necessarily as easy as it looks.
The Raven (1963)
Produced and directed by Roger Corman and also written by Richard Matheson, The Raven features Price, Lorre, and Karloff as rival sorcerers as well as a young Jack Nicholson. Although one would assume The Raven is based on the Edgar Allan Poe poem, it’s only a loose adaptation. But it does manage to work in the money line, “Quoth the raven… Nevermore.” Lorre stars at the titular character, Price is Dr. Erasmus Craven, and the duo battle Dr. Scarabus, played brilliantly by Boris Karloff. The movie features a great sorcerer-on-sorcerer battle as Craven and Scarabus square off head-to-head in a fight that features a number of conjurings that would make Albus Dumbledore proud. This was the fifth of eight films that Corman created inspired by the writings of Edgar Allan Poe.
The Last Man on Earth (1964)
The first, and most accurate, adaptation of Richard Matheson’s brilliant novel I Am Legend, The Last Man on Earth features Price as Dr. Robert Morgan, a man who wakes up, gathers his weapons, and hunts vampires every day. The film is set in the future of 1968 after a disease has turned all of humanity into the living dead. Somehow this picture manages to generate a claustrophobic feel even with the entire world basically devoid of humanity. The Last Man on Earth is a true ancestor of Night of the Living Dead, “The Walking Dead,” and every other zombie-flavored form of entertainment we have today. Although Price was battling vampires and the modern zombie had yet to truly arise as we know it today, this movie and the book that inspired it were some of the most influential in the history of horror.