Twenty years ago today, Vincent Price departed the world of mortal men for the House on Haunted Hill in the sky. Sadly, unlike Dr. Anton Phibes or other of his memorable cinematic creations, the beloved actor has not returned for a sequel. Not yet, at least.
But his legacy is stronger than ever. Two decades after his death at age 82, Vincent Price has become the de facto face of “classic horror” for a new generation. Thanks to an active and prolific career that stretched into the 1990s, and included appearances in kid-friendly, contemporary classics like Tim Burton’s EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990) and vocal work in animated TV shows like Scooby-Doo (1985) and Tiny Toon Adventures (1991), Price is still fondly recalled today, even by younger viewers. And his memorable presence in endlessly rerun episodes of Batman (1966-67, as Egg Head) and The Brady Bunch (1972, in the three-part Tiki episode) certainly doesn’t hurt, from a visibility standpoint.
This month, Turner Classic Movies is helping to keep Price’s legacy vibrant with a brilliantly curated, 35-film retrospective of his movie career, from Michael Curtiz’s THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX (1939) through Douglas Hickox’s THEATRE OF BLOOD (1973). The series started on October 3 and ends with a bang on Halloween night, with eight horror movies extending well into the next morning (when your Smarties high will finally begin to wear off). The network also tapped writer/director John Waters to narrate a truly brilliant promo for the series, written and produced for TCM by Christian Hammann and edited by Jay Bellissimo. You can watch it here.
Also this week, Shout Factory released The Vincent Price Collection, a Blu-ray box set featuring six fright films distributed in the United States by American International Pictures: HOUSE OF USHER (1960), THE PIT & THE PENDULUM (1961), THE HAUNTED PALACE (1963) and THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (1964) from director Roger Corman, plus Michael Reeves’ WITCHFINDER GENERAL (1968, aka THE CONQUEROR WORM) and Robert Fuest’s THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES. The four-disc set has tons of extras and commentary tracks on all six films, including three with Corman. It also makes an excellent birthday gift for writers of classic film blogs who may be celebrating a birthday on November 11. (Note: it’s cheaper when you order from Shout’s website than on Amazon. Just saying.)
This weekend, the Nitrate Diva is hosting a blogathon celebrating Price and his nearly six-decade career. I’ve contributed an article on THE TINGLER (1959), the second of two “gimmick” films the actor made with my idol, producer/director/marketing genius William Castle. My piece is a guest post for The Collinsport Historical Society, a blog devoted to horror with a particular emphasis on the 1966-71 ABC-TV series Dark Shadows.
You can read the article here. Thanks to my friend Wallace McBride, aka Cousin Barnabas, for inviting me to write it.
In my piece I mention that my movie poster collection includes a number of original release posters from William Castle films. Below is the photographic proof, from the apartment I share with my lovely (and extremely understanding) girlfriend.
What a way to celebrate this horror icon! Masterful, Will :-).
Love Vincent Price’s work as an actor and I really enjoyed your post. Before we moved away from St. Louis, I was fortunate enough to attend a “Vincentinniel”, in honor of Price’s 100th birthday, Since he was a native St. Louisian, a group hosted a movie night, showing Laura and The Witchfinder General, double feature. I attended Laura and was amazed at watching it with a group of people, up on the big screen, at all of the laughs that movie generated. I had only seen Laura on VHS up to that point, and it illustrated to me that one definitely can view a movie and get much different reactions from an audience compared to a viewing solo or with a smaller group in one’s home. I wrote for a blogathon today too, at Classic Film and TV Cafe, on a Hammer horror blogathon. Maybe these blogathon hosts shouldn’t pick the same weekends for their blogathons!
Jenni, that is very cool. I love Price as Shelby in LAURA. He’s so subtly slimy in that role. How cool it must have been to be there for his 100th birthday. And WITCHFINDER GENERAL is fun one to see on the big screen.
Bravo Dr. Percepto! (Didn’t know what else to say)
And nice apartment!
So when are you hosting all of us at your place to admire your poster collection? Great post, as always. Who doesn’t love Vincent Price?
Jennifer, you have an open invite.
Fabulous pictures! How long did it take you to accumulate those posters?
Vanessa, the ones in the pictures were all acquired within the last 5-6 years. I have a bunch of other too, some that I got as long as 20 years ago.
You’ve got a “Mr. Sardonicus” poster? That’s what I call interior decoration.
I don’t fool around, Dan.
Nice one, Will!
Nice piece, Will. Also, I just realized: because it was released in 1990, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS is officially eligible for “Classic Movie” status. 🙂
Kristen, you know my rule: 20 years and it’s officially eligible for “classic” status.
It still makes me sad, a little, to think about Vincent Price dying. So glad to see TCM has been honouring him, along with that fab new Blu-ray box set.
Great tribute and, as Aurora said, great apartment!
Will, I’m beginning to suspect that you are the Dr. Phibes of bloggers—you even have a stylish lair! You also make an important point about Price taking roles in “kid-friendly, contemporary classics” and on television. He really was one of those rare actors who changed with the times, but never lost those qualities that were uniquely his. Thanks for contributing this moving tribute to the blogathon!
Ha ha. Thanks. Anything that’s stylish is likely attributable to my girlfriend. Anything old movie weirdo-ish is 100% me.
Great, Will! I’m envious of the posters you have hanging on your walls!
Vincent is really a master, and he will be remembered for a very long time, maybe more as the master of horror he was, but also for his other interesting parts in different genres.
Don’t forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! 🙂
Great post! I love your poster set up. And I agree with Nitrate Diva when she said that Vincent changed with the times, but he never lost his appeal. Most actors never change, which is bad in a way, but Vincent liked to be “hip” to all the new stuff, he liked to learn about it all. Plus, he is so fun to watch, and I definitely think kids would enjoy watching him. I would also like to get the Scream Factory set, but I am waiting for it to drop on Amazon. 🙂
Great article! I’m also a poster collector and have my home completely covered in original vintage horror sci-fi movie posters. My wife and I love the look of them with our antiques and like you we our huge fans of the movies as well. Keep up the great work and keep the movies from the past alive.