Customer Review

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great blu ray!, 28 Aug 2013
This review is from: Fall of the House of Usher [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Roger Corman decision to hire Vincent Price for his American International Pictures adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's classic tales resulted in a critical and commercial success story way beyond his expectations and his first attempt in "The Fall of the House of Usher" originally entitled "House of Usher", is one of his finest films.

The story of Philip Winthrop (Mark Damon) visiting his fiancée Madeleine Usher (Myrna Fahey) in the family mansion of the title where her brother Roderick (Vincent Price in one of his finest and well thought out roles) clearly has problems of his own is quite close to the Poe original and the elaborate and ornate visual style of the film mirrors well Poe's highly wrought prose - an element well complemented by Richard Matheson's literate script and Floyd Crosby's stylish widescreen cinematography.

Arrow Video's new high quality Blu-ray retains the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 on this Region B locked dual-layer disc.

Despite a few minor print (and original production) issues the high-definition transfer ( made from a mint 35mm interpositive) is admirable with vivid colours (truly popping reds!) and excellent saturation, and black levels and extraordinary detail throughout when the original material allows such a presentation. Film grain remains intact and there is no over- sharpening or machine noise anywhere. What flaws exist (some discolouration and shifting print quality) is probably an original production issue. Don't forget the production budgets for these movies were tiny and Corman created a minor miracle in producing his stunning on screen production values. AIP wanted him to direct two low budget monochrome horror movies and allocated $100,000 dollars for each but he requested they let him do one in colour instead for the same figure. Despite studio reservations that a young audience would not be interested in either Poe or a movie without a monster they finally let him have his way when he told them "the house will be the monster". The movie was shot in the period allocated and went on to make over $1.6 million in a very short time thus confirming the future of Corman's Poe "franchise".

The care and attention to production detail is extraordinary and the sets and costumes brilliantly evoke the world of Poe's imagination in this excellent transfer. Similarly the sequences depicting the collapse of the house itself, using footage Corman produced by burning down a local barn, as well as the almost 3 dimensional opening to the film where Winthrop wanders through a desolate landscape ( shot with only a few hours notice after Corman found out about a local Forrest fire) and using a 45mm lens similar to that which Greg Toland used for the depth of field shots in Citizen Kane, all combine to show what intelligent low budget film making can really avhieve!

The audio is excellent too on this Blu Ray and very robust particularly in it's handling of the much praised Baxter classic music score - a justified collector's item now on CD fetching large amounts for those rare copies still remaining.

The extras include a fascinating audio commentary from Roger Corman which contains much valuable information about virtually every aspect of the film but does have a few problems too - dead sections and the need for judicial editing - but it is still well worth accessing.

The interview with director Joe Dante is even better and for almost 30 minutes provides a wealth of unique information and considerable insight into both Corman and the production process.

Another 30 minute interview with
Jonathan Rigby, compares Corman's Poe films with Hammer's horror films although his criticisms are perhaps a little partisan.

Most fascinating extra of all is the 16 minute 1986 French television interview with Vincent Price where with characteristic humour he talks about his career.

The final "extras" are David Cairns' 10 minute "Fragments of the House of Usher" which - though flawed - is a welcome addition too - and a standard definition trailer.

The booklet accompanying the disc is another gem with an excellent essay by Tim Lucas, and an extract from "Vincent Price, His Movies, His Plays, His Life".

I cannot recommend this disc too highly and with "Uncommon Spring" a new play about Poe due to preview at The Fan Museum in Greenwich in early December it looks like interest in this extraordinary writer is on the rise one more.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Sep 2013 15:27:18 BDT
Ka Thomas says:
Well written and informative review. I shall definitely be buying this Blu Ray on the strength of this. Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Sep 2013 15:38:47 BDT
Adrian Drew says:
Many thanks. I don't think you will be disappointed. A.D.

Posted on 3 Sep 2013 19:05:35 BDT
slimbo says:
Why have you written a review of the standard blu ray and steelbook blu ray? did you buy both? I love this film but can't help wondering if this isn't a genuine review, most likely a marketing ploy.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Sep 2013 19:16:30 BDT
Last edited by the author on 3 Sep 2013 19:18:02 BDT
Adrian Drew says:
I purchased the steelbook and wrote the review. Then saw the blu ray was being hammered by someone in the other section and thought I would try to redress the balance as the guy was saying it wasn't in the correct ratio etc etc Since then he has realised his blu ray wasn't set up correctly and deleted the "review" - so that's why. Rest assured it isn't a "marketing ploy" as I can be very frank about ropey transfers! See my comments on the new "Brides of Dracula"! Hope that clears the situation up for you. The Fall of the House of Usher really is a terrific Blu Ray. But if you really want me to be a marketeer - come to my play about Poe in Greenwich on December 7th or my play about M.R. James at The Fan Museum at the end of October! Good wishes, A.D.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Sep 2013 19:46:23 BDT
slimbo says:
Hi Adrian, I stand corrected, I am a huge Poe, Price and Corman fan (in that order!) I hope the standard blu ray has the same features as the steelbook version as I have just purchased the former. As an avid fan of the E.A.P I would be interested in attending your play, please reply with details. Your enthusiasm and thoroughness in your review were misleading for a cynic such as myself, accept my apologies. Regards James

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Sep 2013 22:12:42 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 25 Dec 2013 10:04:52 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Sep 2013 18:57:32 BDT
slimbo says:
Ill be there. Thanks. James

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Sep 2013 19:04:32 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 25 Dec 2013 10:03:29 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Oct 2013 05:59:00 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 25 Dec 2013 10:02:46 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Oct 2013 09:08:38 BDT
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