THE HAUNTED PALACE

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The Haunted Palace Cover Now some people say that the house situated at the end of my street is actually haunted. But is this because it's possessed by the spirit of the dead family that was murdered there? Or is this because it's possessed by the spirit of this film Directed by Roger Corman; and Starring: Vincent Price, Lon Chaney Jr., and Debra Paget. It was made in 1963 and lasted for a whole 87-minute's. BOOO!


The Haunted Palace : The Film - The Book


THE STORY:
Over one hundred years ago, the evil Joseph Curwen (Vincent Price) was burnt alive by the rustic villagers of Arkham, because this mangy-mage corrupted the towns populous with his demented and haunted ways. Today, though, he's back with a vengeance. Primed and ready to curse this land to smithereens.
 
OK, I have to admit, it's not exactly Joseph per-say. But rather someone that looks very much like him. It's his great-great-grandson, Charles Dexter Ward (Vincent again), who along with his wife, Ann Ward (Debra Paget), have come to this quaint hamlet, due to the fact they've just inherited Joseph's magnificent palace, situated upon a hill nearby.

Wow! Now doesn't all of that sound pretty neat to you, dear reader?

Huh? What do you mean 'no'? Is it because both Charles and Ann are then told to go away by the local's? Most notably, Edger Weeden (Leo Gordon)! Or is it because they're initially spooked when they first venture into Joseph's grand abode, and bump into the housekeeper, Simon Orne (Lon Chaney Jr.)? But then again, it's most probably because of the town's doctor, Marinus Willet (Frank Maxwell), right? Because he tells them a story about how evil Joe sealed a pack with two likeminded mages: involving the dead, hell, and a sinister book called the 'Necronomicon'?

Oh, well! I suppose that's why what next transpires really shifts focus when Joseph possesses Charles from beyond the grave a piece at a time. As the dead will rise - revenge comes with fries - wives are ultimately dismayed - and a very big house is brashly toasted and flambéed.   




THE REVIEW:
Now in my most humble opinion, 'The Haunted Palace' is one of those movies you have to watch if you love to be charmed by the magic and the splendor of yesteryear. The story is incremental in its approach. The style is both quaint and plush in its execution. Plus the acting is of the usual mannered yet bold variety.
 
The Haunted Palace Poster
Not that this is a bad thing of course. No way. In fact, these are the main reasons for watching this classic slice of cinema in the first place. Personally speaking, one of highlights for me in this horror flick, was seeing Vincent Price act in it. You see, if truth be told, in the past I've always thought of him of a 'vocal artist' more than a 'true thespian'  -- mainly due to his very pronounced way of speaking. After watching this film, though -- straight up -- my mind has changed in this matter quite a lot.

Honestly, I was very impressed with how Vincent could convey charming, evil, pleasant, and sinister, within a blink of an eye, without it seeming too abrupt or 'showy' by default. Also, I have to give a shout out to Frank Maxwell, Lon Chaney, and Debra Paget too -- as these three great actors really did convey an earnest yet 'old-school' tone of who their characters were supposed to be.

Granted, not everything floated my boat in this production. The 'creature make-ups' were nth rate to say the least. And the conclusion to this story did feel a might jumbled and abrupt in hindsight. Nonetheless, the very impressive backdrops and the acting more than made up for this slight pit-fall, by conveying a story that was very enveloping to follow.

The Haunted Palace
Here, check out some of these facts for more details on this horror classic. (1) Some of the exteriors used in this horror movie -- such as the castle, the flash of lightning in the sky, and the waves smashing against the rocks -- were taken from the Roger Corman film, 'The Raven'. Also, the front views of the palace and the underground dungeon were film-sets taken from another one of Corman's Poe films, 'The Terror'. (2) Believe it or not, noted film director, Francis Ford Coppola, wrote some of the additional pieces of dialogue for this project. (3) Apart from this film, the actor -- Lon Chaney Junior -- only worked with Vincent Price one time before. He starred with him on the comedy, 'Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein' -- which they recorded seventeen years previously. (4) If you look very closely you can see that Edgar Allan Poe's name is misspelled twice in the opening credits -- 'Allen' not 'Allan'. (5) Although Poe did write a poem called 'The Haunted Palace', this film was actually based on the H.P. Lovecraft novella, 'The Case of Charles Dexter Ward'. The Poe 'tag line' was included because the producers -- American International Pictures -- wanted to keep it in line with Corman's other Poe films. Roger wasn't very pleased. (6) After this movie was made, the actress -- Debra Paget -- was guided by her wealthy husband to leave acting and take up more spiritual pursuits instead -- most notably, Christianity. (7) The 'Arkham Village' film-set wasn't that large in actuality, and had to be shot in forced perspective to make it look bigger than it really was. (8) Not only did the prolific screenwriter -- Charles Beaumont -- adapt this story for the silver screen, but he also wrote episodes for the television series, 'The Twilight Zone', 'Journey To The Unknown', and 'Suspense' -- to name but a few. (9) I'd hazard a guess and surmise that the director -- Sam Raimi -- got the idea for the 'book of the dead' for his 'Evil Dead' series of films -- also known as 'The Necronomicon' -- by watching this one [click on link for the review].


The Haunted Palace


Overall, 'The Haunted Palace' is a really neat movie. Heck, if you are a lover for the cinema of yesteryear, polished visuals, and great acting, this one's defiantly for you -- no doubt about it. But if you don't? Well? Try 'Dodgeball' instead. See if I care. Ha!

THE RATING: B-