Made at the height of Roger Corman’s successful Edgar Allan Poe series (with his perennialstar Vincent Price), these two pictures, while similar in tone to the Poe films, adapt two differentwriters. Tower of London, a remake of the Basil Rathbone/Boris Karloff film from 1935,is a version of Shakespeare’s Richard III, with Price taking on the role of the villainoushunchback, plotting and killing his way to the throne of England. The Haunted Palace,…meanwhile, takes its title from a Poe poem, but in every other respect is an adaptation of H.P.Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. Here Price comes to the creepy town ofArkham to claim his inheritance: the palace of the title. Once there, his mind is taken over bythe vengeful spirit of his warlock ancestor, determined to continue his attempt to conjureLovecraft’s Elder Gods. Fun as Tower of London is, the real gem here is The HauntedPalace. Some budgetary limitations aside, it is the film most faithful to Lovecraft with theexception of John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness (which adapts the spirit of thetales, rather than one in particular).
Two very solid mono soundtracks, free of hiss and distortion. Ronald Stein’s score forThe Haunted Palace is one of the unsung masterpieces of horror film music, and thoughI can’t help but wish I could hear it in stereo, the mono is quite responsive, and hits a surprisinglydeep bass.
Terrific prints for both films. Both are presented in their original ratios: The HauntedPalace in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, and Tower of London in 1.66:1. The printsare in well-nigh perfect condition, with no damage, and only very slight grain (when there is anyat all). The black-and-white of Tower of London is marvellous, with no edgeenhancement, and sensitive treatment of the wash of greys. The Haunted Palace’s coloursare lush, as is typical with Roger Corman, and the blacks and flesh tones are equally strong.Fabulous transfers.
Not too many extras (but then, you are getting a double-bill here). Both films comes withfeaturettes where Roger Corman (joined by his brother Gene for Tower of London)recalls the making of the films. All featurettes should be as interesting as these. The HauntedPalace is also accompanied by its theatrical trailer. The menus are basic.
Great prints, the original ratios, and a top-notch double-bill. Chalk up another bull’s eye forthe Midnite Movies.
Special Features List
- “A Change of Poe” Interview with Roger Corman
- “Producing Tower of London” Interview with Gene Corman
- Haunted Palace Theatrical Trailer