House of Usher aka The Fall of the House of Usher – USA, 1960

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House of Usher – also known as The Fall of the House of Usher – is a 1960 American International Pictures horror film starring Vincent Price, Myrna Fahey, and Mark Damon. The film was directed by Roger Corman and its screenplay written by Richard Matheson from the short story “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe.

The film was the first of eight Corman/Poe feature films. The film was important in the history of American International Pictures which up until then had specialised in making low budget black and white films to go out on double bills. In 2005, the film was listed with the United States National Film Registry as being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

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Plot teaser:

Philip Winthrop (Mark Damon) travels to the House of Usher, a desolate mansion surrounded by a murky swamp, to meet his fiancée Madeline Usher (Myrna Fahey). Madeline’s brother Roderick (Vincent Price) opposes Philip’s intentions, telling the young man that the Usher family is afflicted by a cursed bloodline which has driven all their ancestors to madness. Roderick foresees the family evils being propagated into future generations with a marriage to Madeline and vehemently discourages the union. Philip becomes increasingly desperate to take Madeline away; she agrees to leave with him, desperate to get away from her brother.

During a heated argument with her brother, Madeline suddenly dies and is laid to rest in the family crypt beneath the house. As Philip is preparing to leave following the entombment, the butler, Bristol (Harry Ellerbe), lets slip that Madeline suffered from catalepsy, a condition which can make its sufferers appear dead. Philip rips open Madeline’s coffin and finds it empty…

Arrow Video Blu-ray Disc Special Features:

  • Limited Edition SteelBookTM packaging
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio commentary with director and producer Roger Corman
  • Interview with director and former Corman apprentice Joe Dante
  • Through the Pale Door: A Specially-commissioned video essay by critic and filmmaker David Cairns examining Corman s film in relation to Poe’s story
  • Archival interview with Vincent Price
  • Original Trailer
  • Collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by author and critic Tim Lucas and an extract from Vincent Price s long out of print autobiography, illustrated with original archive stills and posters

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Reviews:

” Corman was a great admirer of Bergman and you can see Bergman’s influence on his work, particularly in The Masque of the Red Death. It resulted in a form that achieved a level of moodily gloom-laden and thunderously overwrought melodrama. Corman accomplishes some nicely subtle effects at times but mostly House of Usher succeeds on its own level of torturous angst…” Moria

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“Visually the film is a flurry of rich colour and lighting, with velvet reds and purples being juxtaposed to the grey, crumbling walls and windows. Corman often puts dream sequences into his films and House of Usher is no different with possibly his scariest sequence involving paintings of the family that come to life and have a horribly eerie sound to them.” Celluloid Wicker Man

Six Gothic Tales Vincet Price Roger Corman

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… a masterwork of gothic horror, one of the best such films ever made in America. As mentioned, most of this is due to Price’s masterful performance and Corman’s ability to squeeze the most from a small budget. While not flashy or innovative, his direction is sure-handed in establishing mood and creating atmosphere, letting Price and Matheson’s fine, intelligent script do the rest.” Eccentric Cinema

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Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses Roger Corman King of the B Movie

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Wikipedia IMDb

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