The Price is Fright: Vincent Price Centennial Screenings

Vincent Price as THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES
Vincent Price as THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES

Dates: October 21-23
Location: The Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Avenue Santa Monica, CA 90403-1710
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Description: As part of their Halloween horror screenings, the American Cinematheque present this three-day tribute to the late, great Vincent Price, renowned in his time as the “Merchant of Menace,” due to his flamboyant and highly theatrical approach to on-screen villainy. Three days is not nearly enough to do justice to Price’s career (which included far more than just horror films); fortunately, the Cinematheque has done a good job of selecting a variety of memorable titles, ranging from outright fright to the more tongue-in-cheek approach that Price adored.

Friday, October 21 – 7:30 PM, Aero Theatre – Double Feature:

THE RAVEN
1963, MGM Repertory, 86 min. Director Roger Corman’s most liberal Edgar Allan Poe adaptation is a charmingly offbeat comic fantasy, with Vincent Price as a benevolent sorcerer challenged by evil magician Boris Karloff to prove who is the most powerful. Mutual friend and chicken-hearted wizard Peter Lorre, with Jack Nicholson tagging along (as Lorre’s son!), get caught in the middle of the magic duel. Both cinematographer Floyd Crosby and art director Daniel Haller help to make this eye-popping film more expensive-looking than it actually was. With Hazel Court.

MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH
1964, MGM Repertory, 89 min. The most visually hypnotic of Roger Corman’s celebrated Edgar Allan Poe cycle, MASQUE stars the wonderful Vincent Price as Prospero, a sadistic medieval prince who holes up in his labyrinthine castle as a refuge against the terrible plague stalking the countryside. With Hazel Court, Jane Asher and Patrick Magee. Superb cinematography by future director Nicolas Roeg (DON’T LOOK NOW, WALKABOUT).

Saturday, October 22 – 7:30 PM, – Double Feature:

HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL
1959, Warner Bros., 75 min. Morbidly whimsical millionaire Frederick Loren (Vincent Price) offers five guests $10,000 each to spend the night in his mansion, a haunted house with a homicidal history. The vastly underrated Carol Ohmart is delightful as Annabelle, Price’s amoral, murderous wife. One of director William Castle’s most entertaining frightfests. With Richard Long, Elisha Cook Jr.

THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES
1971, MGM Repertory, 94 min. Director Robert Fuest, a veteran of TV series “The Avengers,” brings his flamboyant visual style and tongue-in-cheekiness to bear in this 1920s tale of the disfigured Dr. Anton Phibes (Vincent Price), a madman bent on vengeance after the accidental death of his wife. Trying to dodge various deadly biblical plagues along the way – Phibes’ preferred method for dispatching enemies – are Joseph Cotten, Terry Thomas and Peter Jeffrey. [35mm]

Introduction by Terry Castle. Castle will sign copies of House on Haunted Hill – The Annotated Screamplay at 6:30 PM in the Aero lobby.

Sunday, October 23 – 7:30 PM – Double Feature:

THEATER OF BLOOD
1973, MGM Repertory, 104 min. Dir. Douglas Hickox. A tour-de-force for Vincent Price as a Shakespearean actor who uses “thematic” murder methods to dispose of the critics who’ve panned his stage portrayals. Featuring a Who’s Who of great British acting talent, including Diana Rigg, Ian Hendry, Jack Hawkins, Robert Morley and Price’s wife, Coral Browne. [35mm]

WITCHFINDER GENERAL
1968, MGM Repertory, 98 min. Although he made only four features before his tragic death at age 25, British director Michael Reeves left an indelible mark on Gothic horror with his brooding tales of madness and hysteria. Vincent Price stars here in one of his most brutally terrifying roles, as real-life witch-hunter Matthew Hopkins, dedicated to ridding England of suspected satanists and instead falling prey to his own horrifying, repressive methods. Ian Ogilvy co-stars as a young soldier trying to end Hopkins’ reign of terror. [35mm]