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Tales of Terror
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Tales of Terror (1962)

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Plot Summary:
"Three stories adapted from the work of Edgar Allen Poe. A man and his daughter are reunited, but the blame for the death of his wife hangs over them, unresolved. A derelict challenges the local wine-tasting champion to a competition, but finds the man's attention to his wife worthy of more dramatic action. A man dying and in great pain agrees to be hypnotised at the moment of death, with unexpected consequences."

Review by
Ryan McDonald
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Review Date: 27 January 2006 My Rating: out of 5


I've always sought out horror anthology movies, even though most of them are fairly inconsistent in terms of the qualities of each of the segments/tales. They're usually fun and often feature an assortment of great actors. The most consistent I've seen would be 'Creepshow', and this 60s Roger Corman assortment of Edgar Allen Poe stories.

First up is 'Morella', wherein the wonderful Vincent Price plays a man who has lived alone in a decaying mansion after the death of his wife whilst giving birth. Now daughter Maggie Pierce shows up to open old wounds, and possibly cause the dead to haunt the living. Somewhat familiar, but Price is great and whilst the sets look appropriately decrepit.

The second tale is the best, a somewhat comical combination of 'The Black Cat' and 'The Cask of Amontillado' (which Price performed in a one-man show for TV, also available on DVD alongside one of the other Poe flicks, and is absolutely smashing). Peter Lorre, in superb comic form plays a cranky and rather vicious little man whose drunken behaviour sees wife Joyce Jameson seek comfort in the arms of Price. Price plays the most limp-wristed, mincy, wine-taster you've ever seen, whilst mean Lorre uses his expertise in imbibing alcohol to set a trap for Price. Highlights include the wine-tasting contest wherein Price overacts to amazingly hilarious heights, and any scene where Lorre berates his wife's black cat is a hoot (he threatens to kick its head in at one point. Charming, fellow).

Finally we have 'The Case of Mr. Valdemar', the weakest of the segments, however this is mostly due to the fact that I have no interest in mesmerism or hypnosis whatsoever. Price plays a dying man under the spell of hypnotist Basil Rathbone (Cushing, Lee, and Henry Daniell all rolled into one). The actors are good and so is the ending, but it was a bit dated and dry for my liking.

Usually with anthologies you'll have four or five stories, and one or two will suck, one will be average and one or two will be good or even very good. For this film, we only have three stories, one is very good, one is just plain good, and the other is forgettable, but bordering on OK. Overall, that's a pretty decent assortment, and hey, anytime Corman, Poe, and Vincent Price get together has to be at least watchable.

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