HOUSE OF USHER

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The House Of Usher Cover Now what type of person would you bury alive to save your own soul? A governmental minister perhaps? Or what about someone who works in a bank? Huh? What's that you say? You'd rather bury someone who starred in this 79 minute film made in 1960? What? You mean like the Director: Roger Corman? Or one of the Actors? Vincent Price, Myrna Fahey, and Mark Damon? OK then. Fair enough.


The House Of Usher


THE STORY:
When Philip Winthrop (Mark Damon) first visits the House of Usher, it is with the intention of taking back to Boston with him his bride-to-be, Madeline Usher (Myrna Fahey), so that they can both eventually get married.

But no. He can not. According to Madeline's older brother, Roderick (Vincent Price), he and his sister have been stuck down with an age old family curse, which will result in them both going mad before turning up dead. Furthermore, once this strange news has been relayed to the fresh-faced Philip, a number of other peculiar occurrences arise not so long thereafter.

Yeah. I'm not bleaching your hair, pal! On at least two occasions Philip is almost killed whilst minding his own business. Roderick's own demeanor gets more mannered by the minute. Plus Madeline herself sleepwalks and faints at a drop of a coffin lid.

THUNK!

Still. That's most probably why what next transpires goes bump in the night when some family history is spelled out in blood. As two lovers sigh - a romance does die - brother-in-law's lie - but ultimately madness and death causes the House of Usher to fry.  




THE REVIEW:
Now in the past some people have asked me why I review films such as 'House of Usher'. Surmising that I do this because I hate more modern day movies, and that I have a certain kinship for this type of antiquated cinema.  

The House Of Usher DVD
Granted, to a degree I have to agree with these statements. Going so far as to say that old cinema is generally quite good cinema. Yet, whilst saying that, what really attracts me to these types of projects the most, is because they can tell a simple story without making it too formulaic and substandard by default.   

Take this flick for instance. 'House of Usher'. Conceptually speaking this is a tale about a nut-job family that suddenly goes wacko when one of their kin is about to get married. Moreover, it's also about the supernatural too. But relay's this fact subtly throughout this entire flick, with great acting, a clear narrative, well polished production-values, and a number of very fine set-pieces as well.

Listen. If Hollywood was going remake this movie in today's climate, I bet you anything that it would be spoilt rotten by the recent favor of the month, plus slick special effects that would overpower the overall story-line.

Yeah! I can see it now. Lindsey what's-her-face would play Madeline. Someone from Scary Movie 2 would play Roderick. And as for Philip, well, whatever actor who has shagged half of Hollywood no doubt!

Oh! And then comes' the story of course. This would most probably be messed up by some semi-delusional director that cares more about himself than the actual movie, who'd also concentrate on what looks right rather than what makes more sense.   


The House Of Usher Movie Poster


Alright. I know. I best come off of my soap box, folks. Agreed. I don't want this review to turn into a fictionalized account of a fictionalized account. Instead, I just want you to understand that sometimes a good story and some great actor's means more to a film than anything else.

A Blond Vincent Price in The House Of Usher
Here. Check out these filmic facts before I mess this piece up any further. (1) 'American International Pictures' first released this $300 thousand dollar production on the 22nd of June, 1960, clawing back $1.45 million dollars at the box office. (2) This entire film was shot in only fifteen days. (3) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'Curse' in Finland; 'Guest in Horror House' in Sweden; 'The Tower of The Damned' in Greece; plus was given the alternate title, 'Fall of The House Of Usher', for television. (4) Vincent Price wholeheartedly agreed to dye his hair blond to play the part of Roderick Usher for this flick. (5) This was the first Edgar Allan Poe story that the director, Roger Corman, adapted into a full length feature film. He did eight in total. (6) Most of this movie was shot at 'Raleigh Studios', Melrose Avenue, although the 'burning barn' scene and the 'fire charred land' scene, where shot outside, on the Hollywood Hills. (7) All the paintings Burt Shonberg created for this horror classic were given to the numerous members of the cast and crew after it was made. Roger Corman kept the portrait of Vincent Price for himself though. (8) This was one of the first films 'American International Pictures' allowed Roger Corman to shoot in CinemaScope instead of the usual black-and-white.


The Cast Of Fall From The House Of Usher


Vincent Price Caracatures
Now before I bugger off to God-knows where, please allow me to end this piece with a number of observations I picked up whilst watching, 'House of User'. Firstly, Vincent Price looks rather dashing with blond hair. Secondly, I did get a kick out of how this tale made you feel for the characters involved, making you wonder what the hell was going to happen next. Thirdly, the only thing I can find at fault with this film is that one or two fiery effects did appear a bit awkward on the screen. Benign even. Fourthly, if your brother-in-law ever tells you that your bride-to-be is going to go mad, high tail it out of their house as soon as you can. And fifthly, that I really-really did enjoy this movie. It was well polished. Well acted. Plus just goes to show that old or new, a great story is a great story, come what may.

Nuff said.  

THE RATING: A