The Bat

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1959

So what do you get when you mix a horror legend (Vincent Price), one of the scariest TV mother’s ever (Agnes Moorehead of Bewitched), a former Our Gang member (Darla Hood) and a story that had already been filmed several times before? Yeah, you get the Bat a suspense/mystery film that tries to pretend to be a horror film. If you’ve ever bought one of cheapie horror collections from Wal-Mart you may have gotten this film at least once.

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“I’ll bet it’s Derwood-oh, wrong program.”

It begins promising enough with Price shooting a guy in a cabin and burning it down to cover up said murder. Don’t be fooled yet though because now you need to prop yourself up to stay awake for awhile. Agnes Moorehead comes into the scene as a mystery writer Cornelia Van Gorder. She and her companion/helper/another older woman talk to a bunch of others-blah, blah, blah including Darla Hood. The two woman live in an old house, no say it ain’t so- the old house! Oh, wait I just figured you should beware of old houses. Maybe so while at said house they hear lots of noises. Eventually there are some real break-ins, people are murdered and a masked guy named …yeah the Bat is suspected. Detective Anderson comes by, looks sour and starts accusing Price (who is a doctor who does research involving bats) and he also accuses the…butler of being the Bat!  What kind of corn is that? The butler? Even Scooby Doo knew better than that most of the time. Anyways the women scream and Cornelia finally remember she is a mystery writer and sets to trying to figure this thing out. Price’s character is killed by the masked wrongdoer the Bat. So the good news, Mr. Price is your character is  off the hook for being the Bat, but the bad news is your character is well dead. Cornelia figures out there are millions of bucks worth of securities hidden in her house and she finds the secret passage. She and a few remaining survivors manage to corner the Bat as he tries to get said securities. Bang, bang, bang the Bat goes down for the count, oh wait it’s just bat movie in name only and no vampires, oh well ignore the attempted joke. Anyways the Bat is detective Anderson, yeah I gave up caring by this point too. Roll the credits.

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“Is that Wolverine?”

The acting is alright enough and Moorehead and Price help when they can. Overall it just suffers from being a creaky, low budget film that isn’t scary enough to be a horror film and not really clever enough to be a good mystery.

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“I’ll scratch that itch for you.”

 

Poster posting-Cry of the Banshee

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I know the pictures are not the best, but that’s on me not the posters. This is a poster of Cry of the Banshee starring Vince Price. An okay looking gothic horror about a werewolf like creature they try to pass off as a banshee. Overall it’s fairly average. However this poster is pretty cool. Very much a product of the early 1970’s with the colors and swirling image. I got this for $9 on Buy it now through eBay probably in 2002. It has some slight holes around the deep creases, but still well worth what I paid for it.

The Invisible Man Returns

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1940

Who’s in this?

Vincent Price as Geoffrey Radcliffe a man accused of killing his brother, but soon he’ll become invisible. You know Price as a horror movie legend, but in 1940 he was a little known young actor and he was still well over a decade away from the House of wax which would really launch him towards being a star of many horror films.

Cedrick Hardwicke as Richard Cobb who pretends to be a friend of Geoffrey and Helens but really he’s a skunk. Hardwicke was a distinguished actor who worked quite a bit on both stage and screen. He had over 100 credits including Rope and The Ten Commandmants. Other genre appearances include The Ghost of Frankenstein and the Invisible Agent.

Nan Grey as Helen Manson girlfriend of Geoffrey. She had over 30 credits between the mid-30’s and the early 40’s. She is perhaps most known to horror fans for her role in this film and as Lili a victim of and in Dracula’s Daughter.

John Sutton as Doctor Frank Griffin. Brother of the original Invisible Man he makes an invisibility potion for Geoffrey believing he innoncent and that turning him invisible will give them time to clear his name. Sutton worked regularly as a supporting player in films from the 30’s through to the 50’s and then got in tv for a while.

Cecil Kellaway as Inspector Sampson of Scotland Yard who assigned to catching Geoffrey when he turns all not threre. Kellaway had a film career that spanned over four decades and was nominated for an Oscar twice. Fans of Universal horror films will recognise him as the Great Solvani from the Mummy’s Hand.

Alan Napier as Willie Spears a cowardly skunk. Napier was early in his acting career at this point, but he would go on to have a very active career. You will know him best as Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s butler from the 1960’s Batman show.

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What’s this about? So Geoffrey Radcliffe is set to hang for the murder of his brother. While in his cell he vanishes leaving a pile of clothes and a couple of stupid and confused guards. Inspector Sampson shows up and unlike a lot of policeman in these older films he’s pretty sharp. He knows of the original Invisble Man and knows his brother knew Geoffrey. He puts two and two together and suspects Doctor Griffin supplied Geoffrey with an invisibility formula. However Griffin won’t admit to that and Geoffrey is on the run going about all invisible while trying to find out who framed him. Good thing those invisibility syrums don’t cause nasty side effects like insanity, oh wait that may be coming. Pretty soon Geoffrey starts to find out what’s on and after sacring the shit out of and beating the snot out of Willie Spears he learns that Richard Cobb killed his brother and framed him for it. However Inspector Sampson is hot on the trail of Geoffrey with ice water in his veins and a big old stogie. Yeah, i know ew a stinky cigar. However the Inspector knows the smoke will reveal an invisible man. He finds out that Radcliffe is going after Cobb so he takes a force over there to protect Sampson and try to grab Radcliffe with his men using smoke. It doesn’t work, but a nice try and it makes for some of the best visuals of the film. Invisibility isn’t all fun and games though as it’s bound to have a downside and that happens when Geoffreay goes all nutty just like the first invisible dude. The power goes to his head I think although I can’t see his head because he’s you know invisible and all. Doctor Griffin tries to stop but can’t so Geoffrey goes after Cobb again. The old skunk eventually confesses to the murder before dying. Geoffrey is hurt badly, but Griffin saves him and he becomes visible once more so we finally see a young Vincent Price just for a minute. Roll the credits.

The negatives-The film was made seven years after the original and it doesn’t do a whole lot to advance the invisibility concept. It’s just the same ideas, similar results only with a thin murder plot tossed in.

The positives-A solid cast all the way  around helps transform an okay script into a decent movie. The effects are very good for the time and even a step up from the orignal.

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The Tingler

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1959

As with The pit and the pendulum I’m going to just briefly touch on the plot and then go into Price’s performance since this Vincent Price week

Vincent Price as Pathologist Dr. Warren Chapin

Patricia Cutts as Isabel Stevens Chapin. Wife of Warren and sister of Lucy. She fools around on Warren and doesn’t seem to be very nice at all.

Darryl Hickman as David Morris. Boyfriend of Lucy, assistant to Warren.

Pamela Lincoln as Lucy Stevens. Sister of Isabel, but unlike her sister Lucy seems alright.

Phillip Coolidge as Oliver “Olllie” Higgins. Husband of Martha, nervous guy with shifty eyes. With his wife owns a movie theater that only shows silent pictures

Judith Evelyn as Martha Higgins. Wife of Ollie, co-owner of the theater although she controls the money. She is a deaf mute and very skiddish.

What’s this about? Okay, this is an odd film. At the heart of it is a woman who eventually wants to do away with her husband and a man who wants to do away with his wife. In the middle of all that Warren discovers that being scared causes something to grew near your spine. If you scream the being won’t form, but it you can’t scream then a rubbery centipede thing the length of your spine forms! A tingler comes into play and causes havok in the area. Add into that a fright scene to scare the mute woman, drug experimentation and William Castle setting up for people in the audience back then to be shocked by their seats. What a ride of cheese, but a fun ride none the less.

This is a different role for Price because he plays a straight role. No transition into madness, no pretending to be normal while really being a fiend. I would say he is the voice of reason here, but he speaks of a multi-legged creepy crawly forming in a person’s back. So maybe not a voice of reason there, but he is level headed in other ways. Despite being low key he still leads the movie and keeps you interested despite the ridiculous premise. Without Price this movie may have become a nearly forgotten relic from the 50’s instead of being the very likable and known B film that it is today.

There you go.

My history with Vincent Price

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As a little kid growing up in the 70’s the first time I remember seeing Vincent Price was in Brady Bunch re-runs playing  nutty archaeologist who captures the Brady boys thinking they are after his finds. I also remember seeing him on the Muppets doing a skit where he had vampire fangs. There were also these cool ads in comic books for a shrunken head kit with Price drawn in comic form telling how every kid should one. It’s seems like Price was on the box for the game board of Hangman back then, but I can’t remember if there was a commercial for it as well or not. That’s my only memories of Price in the 70’s which means I never saw him in a film until the 80’s. My parents were not horror fans by any means. However I remember a summer night in 1981 when the tv ended up landing on channel 45 (which didn’t always come in well). Ghost Host was on, this was a horror movie show with a voice over announcer. This week they were showing Tales of terror with Vincent Price. My parents let me stay up long enough to watch the first two segments. I just have spotty memories of them, but I know that I enjoyed it and at that point my knowledge of horror films was limited to Universal monster films and 70’s made for tv stuff. After it was several years before I would see a whole Price movie. The person who introduced me to Price films in the mid-80’s was this man…

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If you grew up in the mid-atlantic area in the 70’s or 80’s and liked horror films then you no doubt recognize him as Count Gore De Vol the host of Creature Feature.

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He would introduce the film and like other horrors hosts do various skits and jokes plus give information on the film in between parts of the movie. Thanks to the Count I saw lots of horror/monster films back then including Theater of blood, The Tingler and The pit and pendulum all with Price. Not too surprisingly those are three of my favorite Price films even today. A few years later when we got a VHS player I got to see more Price films and in the late 90’s back when I could afford cable AMC introduced to such Price classics at The house on haunted hill and the Mad Magician. Since then I have just filled in the gaps buying and seeing the other Price films as I could.

There you go. Do you have any memories of seeing Price films for the first time?

The pit and the pendulum

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Vincent Price rolls on with the 1961 Roger Corman produced The pit and the pendulum. This is of course an adaption of Poe’s story. Like all of Corman’s Poe based films that should read “loosely adapted” , but then again there wasn’t really enough in that story to make a feature length film so they had to take some liberties and expand upon the story. I am going to approach this one a little differently than my other film reviews. I am not evaluating this one so much because I know it’s good that’s why I am featuring it on this theme week. The greater concern is what Price does here. So let me lay out some basics of the plot and then get to Price’s performance.

The cast-

Vincent Price as Nicholas/Sebastian Medina-Recent widower, castle owner… oh and he witnessed his dad kill his mom and uncle back when he was a lad. So you know he’s ready to snap at some point.

John Kerr as Francis Barnard the brother in law of Nicholas. He’s also full of question and has a sour face.

Barbara Steele as Elizabeth. Wife of Nicholas. Hey, wait doesn’t what I said about Nicholas indicate she’s dead? Read on.

Luana Anders as Catherine Medina. Sister of Nicholas, wearer of funny outfits and she bats her eyelashes at Francis a few times.

Antony Carbone as Doctor Leon. Uh, the doctor and friend (maybe) of Nicholas.

The plot-Elizabeth is dead and Nicholas is on edge. Then his brother in law shows up full piss, vinegar and questions or maybe just questions about his sister’s death.  So this is a castle with a friggin’ torture chamber down below and the Medina’s relatives used it many times. Eventually a highlighted flashback tells the story I mentioned about Nicholas Medina’s character. Nicholas believes Elizabeth was pulled to the torture chamber by the evil that was committed there years ago. Now Nicholas believes Elizabeth’s spirit is haunting him as he is hearing and seeing strange going ons in the castle. Everyone else just thinks he is losing marbles. Eventually it turns out that Elizabeth is still alive and she has been having an affair with the doctor (house calls indeed). Plus they faked her death and planned on driving Nicholas over the edge. What they didn’t count on was that Nicholas now thinks he is his father (the sadistic killer) and the doctor and Elizabeth take on the roles of Nicholas’ mom and Uncle. So let’s just say that the two plotting, nasty people get what they deserve eventually. However Francis stumbles into this and gets tied to a table ans Nicholas rants and that big old pendulum goes whomp-whomp bringing the blade closer to the midsection of Francis. Eventually Catherine and a man servant arrive and save Francis while Nicholas falls to his death aieeeeeee. Roll those creepy credits.

Price too often gets labeled as a ham. I always felt at his best he gave the roll and the film what it needed. Here get a rambling slide into madness with lots of pop eyed jeering from Price. That’s what this film needed. He keeps things going with his maybe he’s crazy or maybe he’s not portrayal. Price can pop his eyes out and rant better than anyone. When he finally snaps it’s a smooth transition lunacy. Price seems to relish in the final scene as delivers gloomy dialog with such glee while waiting for Francis to get cut into two like a big salami. One of my favorite Price films for sure.

Thursday Vincent Price week continues with the Tingler.

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F-Troop-V is for vampire

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The regulars-Ken Berry as Captain Parmeter, Forrest Tucker as Sgt. O’ Roarke, Larry Storch as Cpl. Agarn, Melody Patterson as Wrangler Jane, James Hampton as Dobbs,Frank DeKova ad Chief Wild Eagle, Don Diamond as Crazy Kat

Guest-Vincent Price as Count Sfoza

What’s going on here? Vincent Price week marches on with Vincent Price putting in a guest appearance in the second season of F-troop. So Price rolls into town in a hearse accompanied by a crow he later introduces as brother.  Price is in full pale make-up with slick black hair and generic vampire outfit. Aieeee-he must be a vampire! Everyone is creeped out by the Count of course with the usual stumbling and bumbling from our main characters. That and a coded message the captain got about watching for spies have the men of Fort Courage on edge. The count begins to scare everyone when he compliments wrangler Jane’s neck and he even lives in the old creepy house in town because in all 60’s and many 70’s sitcoms every town had a creepy old house. Jane says she is delivering stuff to the count from her store. Captain Parmeter is supposed to meet her hours later. She is not there when he goes to her house so he worries, ooohhh maybe the newcomber/possible vampire grabbed her. So he gets Agarn and O’ Roarke and they go search for Jane at the count’s house. They run into spooky noises, a hidden passage and even a chicken gets the Captain’s hat on it and scares Agarn. Eventually their shenanigans awaken the count who wonders why these idiots are in his house. Jane shows up saying she didn’t have the supplies the count needed so she went to another town to get some and that’s why she was gone. Oh everyone is so sorry. The count is not a vampire although he says everyone where he is from in Transylvania was. He just wants to raise chickens. There is a bit at the end with maybe a real spy and the show wraps up.

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I love F-troop so I was watching this for the 12th or so time and it’s a funny one. Price has a ball doing a sort of version of Lugosi with all the cheese thrown on top. By the late 60’s and into the 70’s Price was on a fair amount of comedy and variety shows so casting him was no surprise and he was a joy to watch.

***More Vincent Price week coming on Wednesday likely with a review of The pit and the pendulum.

Ten Vincent Price films that you should see

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In no real order.

1-The house on haunted hill-Vincent as a stylish gent with a motive.

2-The house of wax-Playing the gentleman and the loon.

3-Pit and the pendulum-Price descending into madness in grand fashion.

4-The tingler-Total nonsense, but a lot of fun.

5-Masque of the red death-A stylish film for Corman with some real oddness thrown in.

6-The fall of the house of Usher-Price really get into his part playing what else? A nut.

7-Theater of blood-Vinnie gets to hamit up more than usual.

8-The abominable Dr. Phibes-Getting to play a wacko with a crazed plot.

9-Witchfinder general/Conqueror Worm-Price playing a brutal, nasty guy.

10-The mag magician-This one gets overlooked or billed as a copy of the house of wax, but I think Price is very good in this one.

There you go.

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