Vincent Price: MGM Scream Legends Collection – DVD Review

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Tales Of Terror
Directed By:
Roger Corman

Cast:
Vincent Price. Fortunato/Valdemar/Locke
Peter Lorre. Montresor Herringbone
Basil Rathbone. Carmichael

MGM presents Tales Of Terror. Written by Richard Matheson. Based on stories by Edgar Allan Poe. 88 minutes. Not Rated. Original released in 1962.

Twice-Told Tales
Directed By:
Sidney Salkow

Cast:
Vincent Price. Alex Medbourne/Rappaccini/Gerald Pyncheon
Sebastian Cabot. Dr. Carl Heidigger
Brett Halsey. Giovanni Guasconti

MGM presents Twice-Told Tales. Written by Robert E Kent. Based on short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne. 120 minutes. Not Rated. Original released in 1963.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes
Directed By:
Robert Fuest

Cast:
Vincent Price. Dr. Anton Phibes
Joseph Cotten. Dr. Vesalius
Virginia North. Vulnavia
Peter Jeffrey. Inspector Trout

MGM presents The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Written by James Whiton & William Goldstein. 95 minutes. Rated PG-13. Original released in 1971.

Dr. Phibes Rises Again!
Directed By:
Robert Fuest

Cast:
Vincent Price. Dr. Anton Phibes
Robert Quarry. Darius Biederbeck
Peter Jeffrey. Inspector Trout
Valli Kemp. Vulnavia

MGM present Dr. Phibes Rises Again! Written by Robert Fuest & Robert Blees. 89 minutes. Rated PG. Original released in 1972.

Theater Of Blood
Directed By:
Douglas Hickox

Cast:
Vincent Price. Edward Lionheart
Diana Rigg. Edwina Lionheart
Ian Hendry. Peregrine Devlin

MGM present Theater of Blood. Written by Anthony Greville-Bell. Based on an idea by Stanley Mann & John Kohn. 104 minutes. Rated R. Original released in 1973.

Madhouse
Directed By:
James Clark

Cast:
Vincent Price. Paul Toombes
Peter Cushing. Herbert Flay
Robert Quarry. Oliver Quayle

MGM present Madhouse. Written by Ken Levison and Greg Morrison. Based on a novel by Angus Hall. 91 minutes. Rated PG. Original released in 1974.

Witchfinder General
Directed By:
Michael Reeves

Cast:
Vincent Price. Matthew Hopkins
Ian Ogilvy. Richard Marshall
Rupert Davies. John Lowes
Hilary Heath. Sarah Lowes

MGM present Witchfinder General. Written by Tom Baker. Based on a novel by Ronald Bassett. 87 minutes. Not Rated. Original released in 1968.

MGM presents Vincent Price: MGM Scream Legends Collection. 7 films on 4 DVDs plus one bonus DVD.

The Films:

Vincent Price is a man who is synonymous with horror. He’s an amazing actor who could just as easily deliver a serious performance as a campy over the top one, as the film required. He had one of the most unique and enjoyable voices in cinema and there will never be another like him. Here are a few of his films.

Our first film, Tales Of Terror, is a trifecta of horror, three shorts based on the works of Edger Alan Poe, all staring Price. In the first story a young woman returns home to her estranged father to learn that the body of her mother who died during childbirth was still in the house. The mother blamed the daughter for her death and comes back from the dead to seek revenge. The second story is the best pitting Price against Peter Lorre. Lorre is a drunk who doesn’t appreciate his wife. He befriends Price who ends up having an affair with his wife. When Lorre learns what’s happened he bricks them both up behind a wall, but when the police show up will he get away with it? In the final and weakest story, Price plays an old man on the verge of death and Basil Rathbone wants to experiment on him attempting to keep his mind alive after his body died. The experiment is success but does Rathbone get what he wants? Pitting Price against to other screen greats is really fantastic to see. This is a solid film directed by the master, Roger Corman, and is very entertaining.

Next up we have Twice-Told Tales. Similar to Tales Of Terror, this film pulls from the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne for the stories. First up Price and a friend discover the secret to immortality, but old problems crop up that threaten their future. In the second story Price loves his daughter so much that he makes her deadly poisonous to the touch so no man can have her, all that falls apart when she falls in love and Price most make things right. In the last story Price returns home to his cursed house to search for an ancient treasure; his obsession begins to threaten everything around him. This film isn’t nearly as strong as Tales Of Terror. Most the time it is only the appearance of Price that makes them worth watching.

Our next two films bring us one of Price’s finest characters, Dr. Phibes. In the first film, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, the good doctor gets revenge against those who he blames for his beloved wife’s death. He kills them using the biblical plagues, frogs, locusts blood and the lot. These are very grizzly murders indeed and very entertaining. What makes Price’s performance in this film so great is that he has all of ten minutes of dialogue. Phibes was horrible scared in a car crash and lost his voice as well. He can only talk when he uses a special mechanism of his own design. Dr. Phibes Rises Again takes place three years later. Phibes travels with his dead wife to Egypt in hopes of gaining eternal life for the both of them. The only trouble is someone else wants to get there first. As with most sequels, Rises Again pales in comparison to its predecessor. One of the joys of the first was Phibes manic rants. He only had a few and that’s part of what made them good. However in Rises Again he talks way too much and all the mystique is lost. While the first is a great cult film, the sequel is just silly. Although hearing Price sing “Over The Rainbow” at the end almost makes it worth watching.

Moving on we come to Theater Of Blood which feels like a slasher film long before the genre was born. Price plays Edward Lionheart, a Shakespearean actor who’s had enough of the critics who hate his work. He sets out to kill them all basing each grizzly murder on one from a Shakespeare play. It feels like a slasher film because we care more about Lionheart than we do about any of the victims and we cheer when another elaborate murder is successful. This is a very violent film for 1973 and Price’s campy over the top performance is immaculate.

Our next film has elements that really work but ultimately falls a little flat. Here Price plays Paul Toombes a horror film actor, not too unlike himself, who plays a character called Dr. Death. After his fiancée is brutally murdered he quits acting and goes a little crazy. Several years later he is offered a job to do a Dr. Death TV show and he agrees. But when more dead bodies start to appear Toombes must figure out if it he that is committing them. This film works because it plays off the audiences’ expectations of Vincent Price, it’s very clever in this way. However beyond that the film is somewhat dull and lifeless and only really big Price fans will like this. The ending is quite surprising though and makes the film worth sitting through.

Lastly we have perhaps the most interesting film in this collection, Witchfinder General. In this film Price place Matthew Hopkins who was a real life witchfinder. Hopkins would wander the English countryside in the 1600’s going from town to town where he’d finger women as witches, kill them and collect his pay. Vincent Price’s portrayal of the man is most effective and chilling. He watches coldly as his men torture innocent people until they admit to being witches.

The plot focuses around Richard Marshall (Ogilvy) a soldier who wants to marry the girl he loves, Sarah (Heath). When he returns home from duty he learns that Sarah’s uncle has been hung for being a witch and that Hopkins raped Sarah. So he sets out to get revenge for these atrocities.

Witchfinder General is most certainly a low budget B horror film, but that does not make it bad. Where this film succeeds is in how effective it is. There are many well done disturbing scenes that more than make up for the mediocre acting. And while I don’t want to ruin anything, the finale is quite memorable and not to be missed.

Tales Of Terror: 8
Twice-Told Tales: 6.5
The Abominable Dr. Phibes: 8.5
Dr. Phibes Rises Again!: 6
Theater Of Blood: 7.5
Madhouse: 6.5
Witchfinder General: 7

The DVD:

Tales of Terror is presented in 2:35.1 widescreen. Twice-Told Tales and Theater of Blood are presented in 1:66.1 widescreen. The others are presented in 1.85:1 widescreen. All films are presented in Dolby Digital Mono. All films are subtitled in English, Spanish and French. Theater Of Blood and both Dr. Phibes films can also be watched in Spanish and French Mono.

Extras:

Witchfinder General is the only film to have extra specific to it. However each film does have its Trailer.

Commentary with producer Philip Waddilove and actor Ian Ogilvy: This is a rather dry commentary but it does impart a lot of interesting information about the film. If you are a huge fan then you might get something out of it, otherwise just avoid it.

Witchfinder General: Michael Reeves’ Horror Classic: This is a really good featurette. The people interviewed here really love this film. First they talk about the short career of director Michael Reeves who made only three films before dying at the young age of 26 of an accidental overdose. Other aspects of the film are discussed including how when the film was released in America it was called Edgar Allen Poe’s Conqueror Worm although that has nothing to do with the film. Apparently in this version of the film clips of Vincent Price reading Poe’s story were inserted at the beginning of the film to explain the title. Also in the 80’s the film was shown with a new and terrible moog soundtrack. Luckily the original score as been returned to this edition.

Bonus Disc:

Vincent Price: Renaissance Man: This featurette focuses on the life of Vincent Price and talks about his love of art, cooking and theater as well as film. It gives a well-rounded view of the interesting man he was and is very entertaining to watch.

The Art Of Fear: This one talks about horror as a genre and how much Price loved it and loved to play with it bringing humor to the horror. This one is also very interesting.

Working With Vincent Price: This one talks about his acting and why he chose to go campy from time to time. Like the others this is a fascinating featurette and rounds out a quality bonus disc.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Vincent Price: MGM Scream Legends Collection
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIES

7
THE VIDEO

6
THE AUDIO

6
THE EXTRAS

8
REPLAY VALUE

7
OVERALL
7.5
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

The Inside Pulse
This is a really great collection of Vincent Price films that any fan would be happy to own. And if you’ve never really watched any Price films this is a fine place to start. These may not be his best films but they are certainly entertaining and embody everything that made Vincent Price the great actor that he was.