The Sunday Dozen: Vincent Price

While he was alive, Vincent Price was at the top of the list of famous people I wanted to meet. It never happened.

Vincent Price was nothing like the characters he played. He was a good man who played hiss provoking villains. Price was kind, cultured, and intelligent. He was an art collector and the author of many cookbooks. Vinnie could do it all.

He began his acting career on Broadway before moving to Hollywood. His early years as a supporting actor produced some of his finest films. He did not commit wholly to Gothic horror until the Fifties. Once he started working with Roger Corman, his career was defined by OTT characters and stories based on the work of Edgar Allen Poe. It was one of the most artistically and commercially successful periods of his acting career.

I’m a Vincent Price fan, not an expert on his life. Please be kind if I’m wrong about any details. It’s what Vinnie would want. I often call him that. Price feels more like a friend than someone whose movies I dig. I always root for him even when he plays a homicidal maniac. Why? He’s Vinnie, that’s why.

The films are rated in order of preference. I started off with 25 before winnowing out such fine films as The Fly and The House Of The Seven Gables. Vinnie did a lot of good movies and I wanted to give equal time to his earlier work as well as his scary movies. I hope I succeeded.

On with the show this is it.

Laura is one of the best films of its era. Price plays Gene Tierney’s smarmy boyfriend, which makes him a suspect in her disappearance. He’s utterly convincing as this creepy character. It’s the first of three Price-Tierney collaborations that top this list.

Vincent Price isn’t the villain in Leave Her To Heaven, Gene Tierney is. One could even call her character a Beastly Beauty. In addition to playing Tierney’s ex, Price was on the right side of the law for once: His character is a prosecutor.

Dragonwyck is a period piece set in a creepy Gothic house but is not a horror film per se. Vinnie is outstanding as an aristocrat who goes insane as the movie progresses. It’s one of the most underrated films on the list.

House Of Wax was one of Price’s earliest horror flicks. I’ve never seen it in 3-D, which is okay. I hate the process, but I love this movie. It’s both housey and waxy whatever the hell that means…

I wrote about House Of Usher on Halloween. I stand by that post.

The poster for The Baron Of Arizona makes it look like a horror flick. It is not. It’s a quirky kinda sorta Western written and directed by the great Samuel Fuller. As always, Price is outstanding as the title character.

The Bat is more of a mystery than a horror movie. There is a creepy house but no spooks. Agnes Moorehead plays a mystery writer, not a witch. She’s swell as is Vinnie.

House On Haunted Hill is one of the ultimate haunted house movies. As the host, Price proves that you can’t keep a good ghoul down.

The Masque of The Red Death is considered by many to be the finest Corman-Poe movie. I’m an Usher guy myself but I love this quad poster. It’s red and masky…

The Pit and the Pendulum is Stephen King’s favorite movie of the Poe 8. I hate to disagree with the Master, but unless he threatens to strap me to the pendulum table, I’m sticking to my guns.

I wrote about The Raven on October 26. I stand by that post: It’s a funny movie with an amazing cast. I was, however, worried that the cast would consume the black bird along with the scenery. In a word: hammy.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes is outlandish, ridiculous, and way over the top. It’s more entertaining than a ferret down your trousers but not as dangerous.

Honorable Mention: Tim Burton is a huge Vincent Price fan, so he created a part for Vinnie in Edward Scissorhands. The part had to be scaled back because Price was ill. His emphysema was out of control after a lifetime of heavy smoking. It led to his death in 1993. RIP.

Here’s a quick and dirty list of the movies:

  1. Laura
  2. Leave Her To Heaven
  3. Dragonwyck
  4.  House Of Wax
  5. House Of Usher
  6. The Baron Of Arizona
  7.  The Bat
  8. House On Haunted Hill
  9. Masque of The Red Death
  10. Pit and the Pendulum
  11.  The Raven
  12. The Abominable Dr. Phibes

That’s all for now. The last word goes to Vinnie and a gang of ghouls in a PR picture for House Of Usher:

3 thoughts on “The Sunday Dozen: Vincent Price

Comments are closed.