This is the first of the Corman-Poe cycle of films to NOT be based on anything written by Edgar Allan Poe...instead, screenwriter Charles Beaumont based an H.P. Lovecraft tale.
Synopsis from IMDb: Loosely based on H.P. Lovecraft's novel THE CASE OF CHARLES DEXTER WARD, this fright flick opens with a warlock placing a curse on a group of villagers about to burn him at the stake. Generations later, the warlock's descendant returns to the village to pick up where his ancestor left off. Written by Humberto Amador
The Haunted Palace, shot in 1963, released by American International Pictures, stars Vincent Price, Lon Chaney Jr. and Debra Paget (in her final film).
AIP marketed the film as "Edgar Allan Poe's The Haunted Palace", but the film was actually based on The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, a novella by H. P. Lovecraft (and this was the title under which the film was originally shot). The title The Haunted Palace is borrowed from the 6-stanza poem by Poe, published in 1839 (which was later incorporated into Poe's horror short story "The Fall of the House of Usher").
Odds and Ends from the interview in the Special Features of the MGM Midnite Movies DVD (Double Feature):
AIP had approached Corman wanting more Poe movies, but Roger suggested a Lovecraft story this time. AIP agreed at the time, but Corman thinks they planned all along to turn it into another of the Poe cycle films.
Chuck Beaumont was brought on to write and weaved in elements from multiple Lovecraft stories.
Francis Ford Coppela, Corman's assistant at the time, did a dialogue polish on the script and prepped actors on set. Corman was able to achieve a different look for this film, compared to the Poe pictures. For this Lovecraft story, he wanted starker lighting, to give The Haunted Palace a more realistic feel (as compared to the dreamier, more poetic Poe films).
Vincent Price and Corman talked in depth about his character (characters, really, as his character is also possessed by his great grandfather) prior to shooting, as a 15 day shooting schedule does not allow for deep discussions on set.
Corman said Lon Chaney (Jr.) was always his first choice for the character Simon Orne (AIP had suggested and were perhaps even leaning toward Boris Karloff, but Corman felt he wasn't quite right for the role).
Corman also said that this was Ronald Stein's score for The Haunted Palace was the best of all the Poe and related pictures he'd worked on with Roger.
Roger Corman had never intended to begin a Lovecraft cycle of films - The Haunted Palace was always intended as a one off to break up the Poe cycle and shake things up a bit.
And now, we come to my favourite of the whole cycle...THE RAVEN!
Synopsis from IMDb: In this tongue-in-cheek movie inspired by Poe's poem, Dr. Craven is the son of a great sorcerer (now dead) who was once himself quite skilled at that profession, but has since abandoned it. One evening, a cowardly fool of a magician named Bedlo comes to Craven for help - the evil Scarabus has turned him into a raven and he needs someone to change him back. He also tells the reluctant wizard that Craven's long-lost wife Lenore, whom he loved greatly and thought dead, is living with the despised Scarabus. Written by Ken Yousten
Odds and Ends from the interview with Roger Corman in the MGM Midnite Movies DVD Special Features:
Synopsis from IMDb: Three stories adapted from the work of Edgar Allen Poe. A man and his daughter are reunited, but the blame for the death of his wife hangs over them, unresolved. A derelict challenges the local wine-tasting champion to a competition, but finds the man's attention to his wife worthy of more dramatic action. A man dying and in great pain agrees to be hypnotized at the moment of death, with unexpected consequences. Written by David Carroll
From Wikipedia: Tales of Terror is a 1962 American International Pictures horror film in color and Panavision, produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff, James H. Nicholson, and Roger Corman, who also directed. The screenplay was written by Richard Matheson, and the film stars Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Basil Rathbone. It is the fourth in the so-called Corman-Poe cycle of eight films largely featuring adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories and directed by Corman for AIP. The film was released in 1962 as a double feature with Panic in Year Zero!.
My Corman Quarantine Film Festival challenge entry...a VERY short horror-comedy NOT INTENDED FOR CHILDREN
On April 16th of this year, Roger Corman decided to issue a challenge to us house-bound filmmakers...make a film at home (or in your backyard) using your cell and only what you have available in your home, i.e. lamps for lighting, your own furniture for set and so on. And the film must be under 2 minutes. Post it on social media with the hashtag #CormanChallenge and tagging @rogercorman before midnight on April 30th.
Being a huge fan of Roger Corman's, particularly his cycle of 1960s Poe films usually starring Vincent Price (see my review of the many Corman-Poe cycle films ongoing in this very blog), I could not let this opportunity go by without creating my own entry.
And so we have Mixter Twizzle's Breakfast, named after the picture book I wrote and am reading from in the film (but make no mistake, this horror-comedy isn't for children's eyes...though, it is also not a "harsh" film in any way).
We also now have a short film festival you can check out via the hashtag #CormanChallenge (check it out on Facebook and Twitter, and perhaps Instagram, as well). But now that the deadline has passed, you can also see Mixter Twizzle's Breakfast on Triple Take's YouTube channel, as well as my IGTV.
Or you can just watch it right here:
Synopsis from IMDb: Emily Gault arrives at the Carrell mansion determined to rekindle an old relationship with Guy Carrell, despite the disapproval of his sister, Kate. Guy overcomes his all-consuming fear of being buried alive long enough to marry Emily but soon becomes obsessed again, building a crypt designed to guarantee that he will not fall prey to his most dreaded nightmare. Trying to prove that he has been cured of his phobia, he opens his father's tomb and is shocked into a catatonic state. His worst fears are realized as he is lowered into a grave and covered over, apparently never to learn that the treachery of someone very dear to him was directly responsible for his predicament. Written by Doug Sederberg
Roger Corman decided to finance Premature Burial on his own, after having an accounting dispute with American International Pictures. He co-financed it with Pathe Lab, a company that wanted to start up a distribution wing. Because Vincent Price was under contract with AIP, Roger couldn not cast him, so he chose Ray Milland for the lead, who had been known more primarily as a romantic leading man at the time (but let’s not forget that he appears in Frogs! in his later years!).
James H. Nicholson and Sam Arkoff of AIP appeared the morning of Premature's first shooting day, and with big smiles, let Corman know they were glad to be working in partnership again — AIP had just bought out Pathe’s distribution company!
Different writers and different leads give this film a different feel, though the same filming and set design styles still tether it well to the rest of the series. I'm biased, but I will always prefer Vincent Price in the leading role of a Corman-Poe cycle film, but seeing a new face and a different kind of performance is a nice diversion.
I must take a moment to mention that each and every one of these Corman-Poe films involves a "psychedelic" dream sequence, all involving creative lens work, colourful gels, slow motion and other post production effects, forming another stylistic consistency that allows the films, all different narratives, to tie in with each other. Premature Burial is no different. This sequence is one of the elements that keeps Premature true to the Corman-Poe formula.