Thursday, October 02, 2008

31 Days of Halloween - Day 2 Movie

Today I took advantage of the gloomy, cold, Fall weather and watched an appropriate movie. I also wanted to be sure I still got in a movie today while leaving time to watch the VP debate tonight.

Today's movie stars another VP; Vincent Price. "Twice Told Tales" (1963) loosely adapts three stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The movie came out in the middle of Roger Corman's popular Edgar Allan Poe movies, which also starred Vincent Price, and while it seems to be trying to emulate the style of Corman's pictures, it's hard to say with certainty what level of influence they had on this movie getting made, or its actual production values.

The three stories are "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment" (from the story of the same name which appeared in Hawthorne's short story collection "Twice Told Tales.") also starring Sebastian Cabot. This story centers around two old friends a possible fountain of youth and an attempt to resurrect one of the men's dead wife. Except for the youth serum, this adaptation has very little to do with the source story. The presentation is very stagey and doesn't really get moving until about 3/4 of the way in. You can see the ending coming, but it is still effective when it arrives.

The next story is "Rappaccini's Daughter" (from the story of the same name which appeared in Hawthorne's short story collection "Mosses from an Old Manse"). Of the three, this adaptation sticks closest to its source material. Here a student falls in love with the daughter of a mad scientist, who to keep her from sinning (like his departed wife) has altered her blood chemistry so that she kills anything she touches. Also leaning on the stagey side, this one is engaging, though the ending is a bit hokey.

The final segment is "The House of the Seven Gables" (adapted from Hawthorne's novel of the same name). This is more like a garish E.C. Comics adaptation than anything resembling the novel which spawned it. Even so, this segment, which also stars Beverly Garland and Richard Denning is very enjoyable and fits closest with the feel and look of the Corman Poe movies. Vincent Price starred in a superior and more faithful adaptation of "The House of the Seven Gables" in 1940. I recommend that anyone watch these two versions back to back, starting with the earlier one. It will prove to be an entertaining and highly amusing experience.

This movie, as I said, felt very stagey, and the sets looked like sets, especially in "Rappaccini's Daughter." The sets were also pretty bare bones, but not in a way that was stylized or creatively filmed to create the illusion of more. Overall the performances were good, and I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. It was a perfect match for the weather.


Dane said...

I watched this one last October, and while I always love Vincent Price, and enjoyed Dr. Heidegger's Experiment, I agree with you that the rest was a little less than terribly exciting.

Shawn Robare said...

Same here, I caught this last year when the MGM Vincent Price DVD box set came out. It's been killing me lately while I was putting together a list of Price's flicks with which I intend to introduce my friend to the fine actor. I totally remembered watching the House of Seven Gables, but I thought it was the stand alone version which isn't on Netflix, so I had no idea why I thought I saw it until you just reminded me that it was in this anthology flick. Mystery Solved!

Wow, that was a long explanation for that. I really dug the Rappaccini's Daughter segment for it's stagey-ness and camp value (Mr. Price always seems to enjoy his roles so much.)

HarveyMidnight said...

I caught this move years ago on cable... it amazed me-- Price was pretty young when the film was done, but in the first segment he's made up to look old... I thought at first it was a recent film. It totally floored me when the youth serum made him young!