HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Forget Everything and Run
Secrets & Lies
Red Moon Tide
Man with Nine Lives, The
Pusher
Pot Carriers, The
Black Bear
Don't Cry, Pretty Girls!
Portal
Me You Madness
Reckoning, The
Laddie: The Man Behind the Movies
For the Sake of Vicious
Hell Bent
Straight Shooting
Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon
Man They Could Not Hang, The
Final Days
Frightened City, The
Assimilate
Sequin in a Blue Room
Common Crime, A
Into the Labyrinth
Power, The
Wake of Death
Night Orchid
Mortal
Iron Mask, The
Dinosaur
Personal History of David Copperfield, The
Dove, The
Collective
Charulata
Minari
Violation
Defending Your Life
Champagne Murders, The
He Dreams of Giants
Lost in America
Take Back
   
 
Newest Articles
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
   
 
  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 1935 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

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
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
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Stately Wayne Manor
   

 

Last Updated: