Still Watching the Skies: 2021 Halloween Bonus “Vincent Price”

Robert, Nat, and Cody join for a triple feature of Vincent Price including THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS, THE TINGLER, and THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH. Will they conclude that the Price is right or is there something more nefarious brewing?

Vincent Price

Vincent Price (1911 – 1993) was an heir to one of the oldest families in America and was born into family wealth. As a young man, he graduated with a degree in English from Yale with a minor in fine arts. Being bitten by the acting bug shortly thereafter, he would go on to be one of America’s greatest stars of horror films and a pop culture celebrity in his own right. With a mixture of menace and campiness, sensitivity and cruelty, intelligence, and wit he would leave behind a lasting legacy.

First up is THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS from 1940. THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS was Universal’s followup to THE INVISIBLE MAN and one of Price’s first starring roles in the horror genre. Wrongly convicted of murder, Sir Geoffrey Radcliffe (Vincent Price) is slipped the invisibility potion of the original Invisible Man and escapes from prison to clear his name. Hopefully before he goes mad from the potion.

THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS is not nearly the classic that the original James Whale film is. But, that doesn’t mean there’s not much to talk about and enjoyable in its own right. It’s a good introduction to Vincent Price as a star with his later persona peaking out.

From THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS to THE TINGLER (1959) was a journey for Vincent Price as a character actor including a full career as a character actor in film noir, westerns, and historic dramas. HOUSE OF WAX (1953) during the 3D craze made Vincent Price a star. And the 1950s gave Price opportunities to expand. In particular, William Castle provided Vincent Price the opportunity to further develop that star persona with a series of gimmicky horror films. Notably for this podcast, THE TINGLER was one of William Castle’s most beloved gimmick films with Vincent Price being an obsessive pathologist grappling with the meaning of fear and discovering a living embodiment of fear on all our spines. But the scariest thing in THE TINGLER might not be the earwig shaped creature, but the messed up depiction of marriage.

The 1960s were a good decade for Vincent Price. His star was ascendant, all the way to a recurring villain role on BATMAN, and he was paired with Roger Corman for a series of movies based on the stories of Edgar Allen Poe. It was a distinctive cycle of films matching Price with the macabre psychological stories of Poe in ways that highlighted the strengths of Price as a screen presence. THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH is probably the apex of that cycle with undoubtedly the best production values of the cycle and Nicolas Roeg heading up cinematography. It’s an inventive screenplay too with Poe’s original tale running about 6 pages, even with the addition of Poe’s HOP-FROG.

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Time tracks:

THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS  Discussion: 0:00 to 21:44
THE TINGLER Discussion 21:44 to 59:45
THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH Discussion 59:45 to End

Next month, We take a dive into 1977’s DEMON SEED with Julie Christie. We hope you’ll join us.

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