It’s a Halloween special edition of Pulp Fiction: another Roger Corman-Vincent Price take on an Edgar Allen Poe story with a shortened title, House Of Usher. It was the first in the series of Corman flicks known as the Poe 8.
House of Usher is an important movie in the development of Corman as a filmmaker. The studio gave him $300K to make a technicolor movie, which is the rough equivalent of $3 million in 2023 dollars. Corman’s previous flicks were in black and white with much lower budgets. One third of the budget went to star Vincent Price who was worth every penny.
Like most Poe adaptations, the story is a mix of the master and the screenwriter. Fortunately for Poe, Richard Matheson wrote the script with Corman directing as well as a wonderful score by Les Baxter who I praised in my post about The Raven.
Poe was one of the creators of Gothic horror. House of Usher fits the pattern: A creepy house that turns out to be haunted, a tormented lead character, and a crypt in the basement. Who does that? Vincent Price as Roderick Usher, that’s who.
The rest of the cast is fair to middling. Mark Damon plays a Boston Brahmin but occasionally sounds as if he’s from Flatbush. He does, however, have awesome hair:
FYI, Mark is no relation to Matt Damon. He was born Alan Harris.
House Of Usher is a slow burning movie that becomes a raging inferno in its final act as everything goes to hell for the Ushers.
I’ve given you all the plot I’m willing to share. This feature is called pulp fiction, not pulp spoilers, after all. Besides, you should have an inkling if you’ve read Poe or watched Mike Flanagan’s Netflix Poe-palooza: The Fall Of The House Of Usher.
In the course of my image research I found this cool image at Collider.com of Vinnie and some of the cast of the 2023 series:
Where the hell is Adrastos crush Mary McDonnell? She plays Madeline, the second most important character in the new series. I would have loved to see her act with Vinnie: they both have voices that are like butter. In McDonnell’s case, her voice can melt butter.
As you’re well aware, the movie is based on a Poe story:
Grading Time: I’ve give House Of Usher 3 1/2 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B+.
While I’m at it, I give the Netflix series 3 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B. It’s just not as good as the other series Mike Flanagan has produced for Netflix.
The grading is done, which means it’s poster time. We have two this time:
Now that you’re creeped out by the sight of Madeline Usher in a casket, it’s time to go to the lobby. Hit it, gang:
It’s amazing that popcorn dude never drops that sign. As Billy Wilder would say at this point: It’s Movie Magic.
The publicity pictures for House Of Usher are black and white but the lobby cards are color like the movie itself.
The last lobby card is a PR shot. It’s not in the movie. Oh well, what the hell.
It’s time to usher you to the trailer:
The last word goes to Ben Mankiewicz with his TCM intro to House Of Usher, which aired on the same night as The Uninvited: