The Fall of the House of Usher (1960)

Posted: March 17, 2014 in Movie Review
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Fall of the House of Usher

Directed By: Roger Corman

Starring: Vincent Price, Mark Damon, Myrna Fahey, Harry Elerbe

Synopsis: A man goes to great lengths to save his fiancé from an ancient curse.

Thoughts: The combination of Vincent Price, Roger Corman and Edgar Allen Poe was a potent one in the 1960s and this movie is where it all started.  Vincent Price starred in all but one of Corman’s Poe movies and it’s easy to see why.

Price is very comfortable in period pieces.  So much so that when you see him in a modern movie, it seems to be a bit out of place.  Price absolutely exudes charisma and commands the viewer’s attention whenever he is on the screen.  Here he plays the very insane Roderick Usher.  Price takes the Usher family curse and makes it a part of his character, wincing at every sound and reacting beautifully to his environment.  It’s easy to see why he is an icon of the genre.

Price isn’t the only one here that delivers a great performance, although it is easy to let Price’s performance overshadow the others.  Mark Damon, who plays Philip, actually won a Golden Globe for his performance and would use this role to catapult his career.  While he performed in multiple westerns and had a lengthy career in Italy, genre fans would most likely recognize his name as part of Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath.  Myrna Fahey’s performance is matched by her beauty as she brings the tragic character of Madeline Usher to the screen.

It seems a little silly to recount the career and accomplishments of Director Roger Corman.  The man is responsible for a multitude of great horror movies and was revolutionary in the world of budget filmmaking.  He was relentless, and often shameless, about taking advantage of the latest craze in Hollywood and making a profitable film.  What is truly amazing about Corman, is that he didn’t just make money, he also made entertaining movies. The Fall of the House of Usher was the start of a lengthy relationship with Vincent Price and the tales of Edgar Allan Poe.  Something tells me it wasn’t incredibly difficult to direct Price, but Corman combined him with a great cast, some amazing set pieces and delivered a really great movie.

This movie is essential viewing for fans of Gothic horror. It sits very well with movies from Hammer studios and obviously the other Price movies of the era.  It’s also a great place to start with Vincent Price or the Edgar Allan Poe adaptations.


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