Monday, October 9, 2023

The Fall Of The House Of Usher

This has actually been on the list since it all began.

Several of the Roger Croman movies based on Edgar Allen Poe's works in fact, and this was the first and a pretty damn good one to start with. Now I haven't read the story, in fact it's a goal of mine to read all of Poe's work before the end, but it's an interesting story. A young man named Philip is visiting the estate of the Usher family to wed his fiancee Madeline and quickly is shut down by her brother Roderick, who claims the bloodline of the Usher family is wrought with terrible things and ailments, as Philip tries to escape the crumbling house with his lady friend. Once upon a time while I was still in high school we watched this film for our english class, but being as classes were barely an hour long I never fully saw the film until today and I was immediately loving it from the setting alone. For a film with not that large of a budget, the sets look incredible, the costumes are ornate, the atmosphere is simply to die for, and the use of color was not only a big step up for AIP but incredibly striking. Roger Corman had to convince the studio to give a bigger budget for a color film at that time, and he was an avid reader of the Poe stories since he was a kid so it was as much a passion project as well as a gamble but surprise surprise! This was the first of many movies Roger made from the stories of Poe and it was an immense success! And it's hard not to see why, you have a god tier level horror actor like Vincent Price delivering a very memorable performance, the moody sets and slow burn pace add a foreboding mood to an already foreboding story, the direction is effective, and it was made still during that special time when horror movies could be classic or modern. I don't really know why we don't see more movies like this today in the horror genre, everything has to be modern times or if they do go back it's primarily to the 80s, you never see a horror movie get victorian on your ass anymore and I feel that's a shame. How the movie just shows the house of Usher and the decrepit grounds is just beauty to my eyes, a lot of credit has to go to the set builders and cinematographer on this movie. I need not tell you Vincent Price is excellent in this role, it's a given, but how the character of Roderick genuinely believes there is nothing short of a curse on the family lineage can be felt quite easily and it is a striking performance. Mark Damon is a more conventional leading man but works nicely, Myrna Fahey has a bit more to work with and gets a moment to shine near the end, and Harry Ellerbe is a good ally character to Philip playing the manservant of the house. It's so difficult to describe, but when you watch the movie and you let the ambience and mood just wash over you, you absolutely buy it. Cause you know from the start something is off about the house and the people who live there, but even if you are a horror movie veteran you can't quite pin down what. And what's interesting is you could see this movie from two different angles, through science in terms of psychology as to why Roderick and Madeline are the way they are, or through a sheer supernatural lens and simply chalk it up to a haunted house or curse or whatever. It's an almost baffilingly effective film and it's a giant recommendation from me. It's almost a film that must be seen to be believed. 4 stars, I think I'm gonna give it a 9/10, and we got more Corman goodies to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment