Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to this, our Vincent Price -a- thon. This is a series of posts based on the famed exploits in film of the immortal thriller himself, Vincent Price. Finally, a movie that isn’t directly related somehow to an Edgar Allen Poe story. Sorry, guys. I was just getting a little burnt out on the Poe stories and I needed a change of pace. Thankfully, not every movie that Vincent Price did in 1963 was a revisionist work of Poe so here we are. And the opening is less melty paint and something more traditional with credits and a scrawling text at the opening. This one is different too in that it starts at a funeral. What? A Vincent Price movie that doesn’t start off at Vincent Price’s creepy house? No. In this case, we’re starting off at the funeral of one Simon Cordie, played by Vincent Price. So the film starts off with him already dead? Well that’s a bit of a downer, and I’m not just saying that because they’re lowering his casket into the ground. In this movie, Vincent Price plays a judge and an artist. He did leave behind him a diary. A diary of a mad man if you will. So Vincent Price left the diary in a chest and requested that it be opened after the funeral.
So the rest of the movie will be a flashback to Vincent Price and the contents of his diary. Which means the whole movie is going to be narrated by Vincent Price. Oh sweet heavenly Jesus, thank you. Vincent Price notes that these strange events started off with a man who was sentenced to die by Judge Dread. The man wants to meet with Vincent Price so he goes to see him. Vincent Price comes in thinking he was going to hear a confession but he sticks to a story he told at the trial. He was possessed, he was made to do it by some…thing that controlled him. He certainly does sound mad, doesn’t he? I wonder if he has a diary too. Like, written on toilet paper. He then tries to kill Vincent Price, which goes about as well as you would think. Artist and Judge Vincent Price can still take you to school. Vincent Price is racked by guilt since he killed someone who was trying to throttle him to death. This had better stop soon so that Vincent Price can man up and kill again or this movie will be really boring. Vincent Price going home and spending time in his study? These are the words of a mad man. Oh great, he has a little bird. This does not bode well for the bird. In his study is a picture of his now deceased wife and I can’t begin to tell you how much of a relief this is.
While Judge Price rants at his two elderly servants I’ll explain why the death of his wife causes me so much joy. You see, there have been far too many movies involving Mrs. Price trying to kill Vincent and run away with a lover or getting buried alive. I’ve had enough. So her starting off deader than that murderer Judge Price killed is nothing but a good thing in my book. So he goes upstairs to take the picture back to the chest where it belongs only to see an etching on the wall that says, “Hatred is evil.’ But then when he tries to show it to his servant it’s gone. So maybe it was never there at all. Maybe Vincent Price is going mad. Good thing he keeps a journal or this movie would make no sense. And thus the descent into madness begins. Judge Price starts working the next day only to find the trial list of Louis Girot, the killer he killed the other night, on his desk. But Vincent Price is a man of reason so he tries to find any explanation he can for all the strange things going on in his life. That is, until he hears the diabolical laughter that only exists in his head. So it seems like Judge Price needs to take a break from work. Vincent Price comes home and starts writing in that mad diary of his where he interacts with his invisible tormenter again.
Oh great, this invisible thing is talking about his love for a bird. I told you things weren’t going to end well for that bird! Where exactly is the humane society on this one? Vincent Price just killed a bird by squashing it like a piece of fine Brie. Vincent Price goes to the doctor to tell him about his problem. Now I need to go off on a little tangent here. I recognize that the idea of Vincent Price hearing voices and some “thing” that knocks over an ink well and is apparently not also voiced by Vincent Price as I had originally assumed is a far-fetched idea. We’re on the same page here, yes? But that doesn’t give the doctor he goes to, his servants and pretty much every other single person who talks to him about this to treat him like he’s a five year old. Asshole, Vincent Price is not prone to flights of fancy. He made a mechanical man with scissor hands, what’s your claim to medical fame? That’s what I thought, shut the hell up. But yeah, doctors don’t believe in spirits and evil. But the doctor says that Vincent Price should take time off and do something for himself. Now let’s light up a cigar to celebrate, that’ll be five thousand Francs. You can pay the secretary on the way out. I can’t cure you, just go out and do some sculpting and meet people. I’m a doctor!
I love how in the opening scene everyone, Doctor included, seems shocked by the idea that Vincent Price said if he told the truth he would seem insane and yet he just told his doctor he’s hearing a voice call to him and make him kill his bird. Even for Vincent Price, this isn’t normal. But he does take the Doctor’s advice and finds a woman to sculpt. He does so, and that very quickly. She is quite beautiful. Vincent Price just invited some woman whose name he didn’t even know to his house in order to sculpt her. Hold on, stop the movie. This is a movie where Vincent Price plays a French judge in Paris who wants to sculpt a woman? What was that line? “Sculpt me like one of your French whores…girls. French girls.” She goes up to meet her artist husband and suddenly my life flashes before my eyes and I pray to God I don’t remain a poor author for the rest of my life. Her husband asks who it is and she pretty much refuses to tell. I’m not really a fan of…un-evil Vincent Price, but that does mean we can have one conversation between Vincent Price and someone else without worrying he’s plotting to kill her and cover her in wax.
At least until the voices come back. Ah crap, as Vincent Price takes his new model up to the attic, one of the servants says that everything is going to be alright. We are so screwed. Or rather she is. The countdown till she dies begins now. How long till she croaks? Taking all bets, taking all bets! And then Vincent Price starts up his sculpting. And now Vincent Price is healthy again! Until the statue is done. The conversation between Vincent and his model upon the completion of his new masterwork is awkward beyond awkward. Vincent Price basically comes out and tells her his wife killed herself and she retorts that maybe she didn’t know how to laugh at herself. Clearly not, because she killed herself you insensitive woman. At this point, when everything seems like it’s going to turn out alright shockingly things don’t turn out alright. Vincent Price has no reflection in the mirror? He’s a vampire! A vam…oh wait, the voice has a body and it’s standing between Vincent and the mirror. This guy seems to talk quite loudly, it’s a wonder the whole street can’t hear this thing. It sounds like he’s yelling into a megaphone. They’re called Horla, and I’m not sure I’m spelling that right but quite frankly I don’t care. They are basically beings from an alternate dimension that can only be brought into existence through evil and Simon Cordie murdered someone.
Yeah, that prisoner who actually thought he could take Vincent Price. He really was pretty crazy, wasn’t he? Oh wait, he actually meant his wife who killed herself because Vincent Price blamed her for the death of their son. And then Vincent Price is asked by the voice to look at his statue and then the Horla proceeds to deface his art. Ok, now you’ve gone too far. You know what happened to the last guy who messed with his art? He should have died in a fire. He ended up getting suiceded down an elevator shaft. Just saying. Now Vincent Price starts composing his diary in his head when the Horla comes again. There’s this argument between Vincent Price and the Horla about her being evil and in order to prove that she is really evil, the Horla asks Vincent Price to peruse her and make her his. I personally think that the Horla just wants to see Vincent Price gets his mac on with another woman. Let’s face it, he is an invisible pervert and not an interdimensional terror. Seems the husband was quite right to be jealous, Vincent Price and his invisible pervert pal are on the prowl. Ooooh that sounded like a song title.
So, Mr. Price proposes to this woman but she is married…I think. Either that, or she’s a whore. I said that jokingly the first time, but seriously this woman is going to get married just because he asked. So she isn’t married. Sorry to say, artist guy, but you’ve been poached. You got robbed, cheated. Mr. Price broke the bro code of not stealing and killing a gal. So the artist friend tracks down Vincent Price and his new art honey. Oh wait, so she was married? And now it’s time for the fight of the century. Artist against artist, man to man, Vincent Price against some guy we barely know. I wonder who will win? So the artist quite rightly picks his wife out as a gold digger, but she chose a deep vein if you get my meaning. But Vincent Price gets threatened by the jilted husband and he actually tries to blackmail Vincent Price. So now Vincent Price has to kill him because the voice in his head that really exists told him to. It even tries to drop a vase on his head. It messes up and then tries to act all cool, like, “Yeah. I can’t kill him yet because we need him to suffer more. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Vincent Price decides it’s time to get out of the house and his wife to be tells him they will be happy, Oh come on, are you serious with this shit? Are you retiring soon too, lady? Do you have a boat called “The Live Foreva”? But this Horla wants him to know that Vincent Price can’t run from an invisible person. So then the Horla convinces Vincent Price to go kill his wife to be because the Horla read the script and heard that crap about happily ever after. And then we get a soap opera moment where her husband washes her hands of his now ex-wife when Vincent Price shows up. Time to die, lady. End of the road, because the gravy train is about to derail. Vincent Price, noooo! You two could have made so many sculptures together! So Vincent Price goes home and then the Horla release its control of him. Apparently he wasn’t told by the Horla until he sees the drops of blood in the morning. It’s funny because this happened last night and yet the blood is still fresh, which means Vincent Price has been bleeding evil sometime over the morning. It actually shows up in the newspaper, because that’s now news works. Then he finds out that the head is upstairs under a sculpture. Because Vincent Price doesn’t kill people, he just makes art. Until someone dies.
I love how Vincent Price protests his innocence and the Horla points out that he hid the evidence under clay. Yes, under clay with a bloody knife sticking out from it. Nobody would ever suspect a thing. It looks like a normal statue. Well, a normal statue at Vincent Price’s house. Now we get a scene of Vincent Price talking to the statue of his dead wife. The Horla does not approve and knocks the statue over, breaking it and Vincent Price’s last remaining thread of patience for this thing. You do not screw around with Vincent Price’s art. He is so going to burn your ass. It’s great how he’s killed his bird, seduced a woman away from her husband and then killed him for which he gets framed but knocking over a bust of his late wife? Shit just got real. The Horla actually gets mad at him for talking to his conscience. Yes, listen to the invisible interdimensional creature who torments you. Your conscience doesn’t exist. Oh, look this is too far. Now you’re making Vincent Price destroy art? You are so screwed. But for just an instant, he refuses and then he learns he can avoid control.
With this, Vincent Price is asked to be the judge in this case, but he doesn’t care to take it. He does say he’ll talk with the man. The conversation goes about as well as you would think it would, given the circumstances. It’s not like the judge can say that he was going to marry the guys wife, what the police officer and the invisible thing maybe sitting right there. So that night, the other lady who I haven’t bothered to mention comes and visits Vincent Price. She’s been in like three scenes and she’s related to the former husband poor artist…somehow. I don’t care about the conversation. Vincent Price will not be cowed by this woman. And neither apparently will the Horla, who gets Vincent out on the prowl again to kill this woman. Except I remember her being in the opening scene, so does she make it? Wait, she’s walking down an alley alone after accusing Vincent Price of murder? You fool! And then comes the most awesome scene of all. Vincent Price gets saved by the reflection of a cross in his knife. That’s right, the power of Christ compels Vincent Price to kick ass and take names.
See, Vincent Price has an end game in mind. He finishes writing his notebook and prepares a trap most diabolical for his invisible tormentor. The Horla does not like fire. Oh, do you think I was making that joke in jest, gentle reader? Well, yes. I was. But nobody messes with Vincent and his art. So he sets his house on fire because you do not mess with Vincent Price’s art. But then Vincent Price dies, thankfully of smoke inhalation it looks like. And back to the present, where Vincent Price’s notebooks is being read. So they’ve been sitting there for at least ten hours because this guy reads everything so very slow. And everyone just decides he was insane except the priest, of course. The end. Despite how much fun this movie was to poke fun at, and as many chances for jokes as it made, this was not the best Vincent Price movie. Maybe I’m a bit mad because I thought the voice of the Horla was also Vincent Price, which is no mean feat managing to out evil Vincent Price in a movie, but that made me mad. Maybe I’m just a bit jaded on Vincent Price since his guest stars in the previous films were Charles Bronson and Peter Lorre and those are tough acts to follow. It’s worth a watch, but I doubt you’ll enjoy it as much as some other films we’ve seen thus far.