Vincent Price is in definitive creepy form as a millionaire who invites an oddball group of characters to spend the night in a sinister house. If his guests survive, they will be paid $10 000. Price is at war with his wife, and it is pretty clear that each would love to see the other dead. Strange events start occurring in the house, with one young woman in particular being driven to the edge of hysteria by one monstrous apparition after another.
Affectionately remade a few years b…ck, this is an endearing slice of cheese. It appeared relatively early in the stage of Price’s career as the crown prince of horror (after House of Wax, but before the Roger Corman adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe). Director William Castle keeps the pace quick and shocks unsubtle, and if it is impossible to recreate the “Emergo” gimmick (in the original theatrical run, a skeleton would emerge from behind the screen and dangle over the auditorium), the entertainment value is still high, mildly disappointing denouement aside.
The mono is a solid example of its kind. The film is almost fifty years old, and was a B-picture to start with, so there are limitations, but the sound is clean enough and gets the job done.
There are two versions here, the original black and white, and a colorized one. The latter, unlike Reefer Madness, demonstrates once again that this process hasn‘t improved since its early, ugly days. The results are still dismal, muddy, and pathetic. The skin tones make everyone look clammy and ill, the colours range from muddy to dirty, and there are plenty of shots where the actors are in colour but the backgrounds are not. The print itself is in very good shape, however. The B&W has some minor artifacting and grain going on, but is sharp, has great blacks, and the print is in fine shape. The big problem? Fullscreen format. The previous Warner edition is in 1.85:1. The 1.33:1 format was not the original theatrical format, but if this is simply an unmatted image, then there is no cause for complaint.
Mike Nelson, the former head writer and host of Mystery Science Theater 3000 is on hand to provide the commentary. As with his work for Reefer Madness, the result isn’t as funny as MST3K, where the byplay between him and the robots is an important part of the humour. But there are still plenty of extremely funny moments. Also here are the original theatrical trailer (good thing, since this has been around on plenty of public domain versions of the movie too) and the press book (in the form of a scored montage). Should you care, there’s a colorization demo. The menu is animated and scored.
I never will be a fan of colorized editions, but the fact that the original B&W is here too makes the other forgivable, and anything with Mike Nelson is worth tracking down.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Theatrical Trailer
- Press Book
- Colorization Demo