Tales of Terror (1962) starring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Basil Rathbone, Joyce Jameson by Roger Corman
Tales of Terror is a trio of Poe horror tales, directed by Rober Corman. Based on: The Black Cat, The Cask of Amontillado, Morella, and The case of M. Valdemar.
Review of Tales of Terror
In short, Tales of Terror is a trilogy of Edgar Allen Poe’s stories, with excellent results. The three stories are:
Lovely, young Lenora Locke (Maggie Pierce) has returned home from school to reconcile with her father (Vincent Price). The father had an obsession with Lenora’s mother, Morella (Leona Gage) who died in childbirth. And he blamed Lenora for her mother’s death. And he keeps Morella’s rotting corpse in their bedroom, convinced that she’ll overpower death itself.
Upon learning that Leonora is terminally ill, the father’s heart softens somewhat, and they reconcile for the short time they have left. However, Morella’s vengeful spirit murders her own daughter, steals her life and returns. Only for all to end in fire and death …
The Black Cat
A personal favorite of the three, this actually combines The Black Cat with The Cask of Amontillado. Peter Lorre plays an Montresor Herringbone, abusive, alcoholic husband, who abuses his wife Annabel (Joyce Jamison) until she gives him the little food money she makes from sewing to waste at a bar. There, he meets Vincent Price‘s character – an upper crust, fancy, foppish character. Surprised at the alcoholic’s expertise, he helps his inebriated friend home — and becomes smitten with his beautiful wife.
Unlike The Comedy of Terrors, here it’s clear that the love birds aren’t simply platonic in love, but in full adultery. Which causes the cuckolded husband to plan revenge, and the murder of the “lovebirds”. This is where The Cask of Amontillado comes in.
It’s a very well-done, interesting story, with a great ending as The Black Cat prevents the murderer from getting away with it. Strongly recommended.
The Case of M. Valdemar
This is clearly the Poe story that has aged the least well. It deals with a dying, older man named M. Valdemar (Vincent Price) married to a young and beautiful wife (Debra Paget). He hires the services of hypnotist Mr. Carmichael (Basil Rathbone) to control the pain from his terminal illness. This is against the advice of his friend and doctor (David Frankham) – clearly with good reason. Mr. Carmichael has hypnotised Valdemar, so that the dying man’s spirit cannot leave his body – until Carmichael permits it. Carmichael keeps Valdemar’s spirit enslaved, and seeks to blackmail the widow to marry him. Until …
Editorial review of Tales of Terror courtesy of Amazon.com
When you’ve got Vincent Price, Basil Rathbone, and Peter Lorre all in the same movie, how can you go wrong? Tales of Terror is a trio of Edgar Allen Poe stories, starring three of horror’s greats and produced and directed by the immortal Roger Corman. The first story, “Morella,” involves a girl (Debra Paget) who returns to her isolated, spooky family home to see her estranged father (Price) for the first time in 26 years. He’s let the housekeeping slide a bit–cobwebs abound and, oh, yes, his dead wife is still upstairs.
Peter Lorre joins the fun for “The Black Cat,” a piece with comic flavor that allows Price to show his rarely seen silly side, and then it’s Basil Rathbone’s turn to be creepy in “The Case of M. Valdemar,” the tale of a mesmerist who decides to experiment with the unknown (bad idea). The movie is well paced, and makes good use of comedy without undercutting its chills. It’s a rare treat to see this many masters of the genre working together and so clearly enjoying themselves. Don’t miss it. –Ali Davis