Newest Reviews
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Imperial Swordsman
Alien Parasite
Up to His Ears
1 chance sur 2
Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo
Yin Yang Master, The
Hail, Mafia!
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
  House of Usher Walls Closing In
Year: 1960
Director: Roger Corman
Stars: Vincent Price, Mark Damon, Myrna Fahey, Harry Ellerbe
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Philip Winthrop (Mark Damon) is riding through a blasted landscape to reach the solitary mansion of the Ushers which sits among the twisted, ruined trees because he has a mission to rescue one of its occupants. As he says when he steps up to the large oaken door and raps on the wood, which is then opened by the butler Bristol (Harry Ellerbe), he is here to take one of the residents away with him. Since there are only three people living in the house, it must be Madeline (Myrna Fahey) he is here to see, and sure enough he tells the manservant he is her fiancé and she is coming with him. However, he won't get his way that easily for the head of the household, Roderick Usher (Vincent Price), objects...

The film which almost made Roger Corman respectable, House of Usher kicked off his cycle of Edgar Allan Poe stories where he took some of the great horror writer's tales and elaborated them to feature length, in this case with the help of the great American horror and science fiction author Richard Matheson who was on screenplay duties. Recognising there probably wasn't enough material for a full movie, they were forced to mercilessly pad out what they did have, which ought to have made for a tedious experience, but with all of Corman's team - including Floyd Crosby photographing, Les Baxter scoring the music and Daniel Haller creating the sets - working at their very best, the results were thickly atmospheric.

And that was the best you could hope for for much of the running time of the Poe pictures as they more or less gradually built up to a bloody climax, or at least a climax where a bunch of things were happening as we had been anticipating for the previous hour and a bit. In Usher, Corman had a casting coup in securing the services of Vincent Price, who had dabbled in horror movies before with such works as House of Wax and William Castle fright flicks, but it was with this that he consolidated his position as one of the great stars of the genre. For an actor with a reputation for enjoyably hamming it up, Price was intriguingly subdued here, as befitting a role where he was playing a queasily hyper-sensitive recluse.

Roderick is adamant that his sister Madeline (Fahey was to die tragically young just over a decade later, with a lot of television credits but this film as her most identifiable legacy) must not leave the crumbling mansion, which for a work with just four characters actually becomes another character, as if the madness of the Usher line has infected its walls and caused them to crack and warp. It would be a brave moviemaker these days who would approach a shocker like this, but somehow Corman made it successful, not only financially but artistically as well; he had been given the budget of two B-movies by A.I.P., his usual milieu, to create his dream project, and their investment paid off.

The tendrils of insanity are creeping their way into each of the characters, but mostly Roderick and Madeline, the former determined that his sister never leave thanks to a terror of the diseased mind he is convinced she harbours, and also thanks to an uneasy, barely acknowledged incestuous streak in the man. Madeline, for her contribution, seems to be able to live a normal life if Philip can tease her out of the damned environment she exists in, which truly looks like Hell on Earth with a setting so unrelentingly grim yet garishly, sickeningly colourful, but Roderick is so intent on keeping her that he insists when she falls into a coma that she is dead, and buries her alive. This established the full on, Gothic outrageousness of the finale, a sequence so effective that Corman did his best to live up to it in many a movie thereafter, especially in the Poe cycle; if nothing else, it proved to the trendsetters that he genuinely did have talent and was not simply capable of churning out the smartass chillers and thrillers he had made his name with. House of Usher still impresses.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 3349 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


Roger Corman  (1926 - )

Legendary American B-Movie producer and director who, from the fifties onwards, offered low budget thrills with economy and flair. Early films include It Conquered the World, Not of This Earth, Attack of the Crab Monsters, A Bucket of Blood, The Little Shop of Horrors and X. The Intruder was a rare attempt at straightforward social comment.

Come the sixties, Corman found unexpected respectability when he adapted Edgar Allan Poe stories for the screen: House of Usher, Pit and The Pendulum, The Masque of the Red Death and The Tomb of Ligeia among them, usually starring Vincent Price. He even tried his hand at counterculture films such as The Wild Angels, The Trip and Gas!, before turning to producing full time in the seventies.

Many notable talents have been given their break by Corman, such as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorcese, Monte Hellman, Jonathan Demme, Joe Dante, James Cameron and Peter Bogdanovich. Corman returned to directing in 1990 with the disappointing Frankenstein Unbound.

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
  Sheila Reeves
Paul Smith


Last Updated: