Watching the first couple entries in The Fly franchise recently made me realize – for the umpteenth time – what a good actor Vincent Price actually is. For an actor who became primarily known for horror films – and melodramatic horror films at that – he was capable of so much more.
Though I came to know and appreciate Vincent Price from those very horror films – like the excellent Poe cycle from Roger Corman – I probably first saw him as Master Builder Baka in the classic The 10 Commandments. That seemed to show up quite often on TBS or one of the other cable channels and even in that film he stood out to me. I also have a distinct memory of watching him in House of Usher with my brother Scott and my mom – and having my mom scare the shit out of my brother and I when Madeline (Myerna Fahey) returns from the grave.
The Corman films never seemed to get much play on the cable channels in northern Maine, so my primary memories of Vincent Price films are from his later career – primarily 1970’s films like the awesome Dr. Phibes films and (a favorite) Theater of Blood. He was, of course, also a feature on Michael Jackson’s Thriller song and video, and made plenty of appearances in later TV (the Muppet Show) and film (Edward Scissorhands).
Since I was an adult I’ve spent some time tracking down his older work, and films like Dragonwyck, The Last Man on Earth and Witchfinder General revealed a man able to work with great subtlety, charisma and wit. I still need to see more films of his – I just saw Tomb of Ligeia for the first time last year – and I know I’ll be entertained no matter the quality of the film itself.
My favorite Price film? I have to say it’s probably House of Wax – my wife and I watch it every Halloween. I might try and talk her into watching The Abominable Dr. Phibes, though. That’s crept up in my list the last few years.
What about you? What’s your favorite Vincent Price film? Or TV show? Maybe it’s The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo – I don’t judge!
And just for fun, here’s another Price illo I did a year or so back. Can you guess the film?