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Masque Of The Red Death [DVD]
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While the plague rages throughout Europe, sadistic Italian prince Prospero (Vincent Price) dallies with devil worship. To entertain his fellow Satanists, Prospero hosts a lavish ball in the confines of his castle, but the wanton revelries sour when an uninvited guest arrives - Death himself!
Based on a short story by the father of modern crime and horror fiction, Edgar Allen Poe, The Masque of the Red Death stars Vincent Price as Prospero, enjoying a reign of debauched decadence while his castle shields him from the plague. Prospero holds a masque for a corrupt medieval nobility but the sadistic revels are joined by an uninvited guest, the Red Death itself. Jane Asher has never looked more beautiful and her colourfully designed nightmare equals Salvador Dali's contribution to Spellbound (1945). Produced and directed by Roger Corman, this is the most famous and probably the best of the hundreds of movies (including an inferior 1989 remake) with which the undisputed king of the B picture has been involved. With an intelligent, poetic screenplay paying homage to Igmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (1957), this is a luxurious and elegant horror film (though the full-screen transfer does diminish the outstanding Panavision images of cinematographer Nic Roeg, who would later direct his own horror classic, Don't Look Now in 1973). The film is just one of a series of Poe adaptations Corman made with Price in the 1960s: The Fall of the House of Usher (1960) and The Tomb of Ligeia (1965) also being particularly notable. --Gary S. Dalkin
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Vivid colour is one of the most striking things about this film, and is used to great effect, especially in the series of mysterious coloured rooms, each with it's own symbollic purpose.
Whatever your opinion of the acting skills of Vincent Price (genius or incredible ham?) you have to agree that here the script, set and supporting cast are just made for him.
There are many splendid sequences to this film, most notably: Prospero's series of small rooms, all completely done out in different colours; Hazel Court's druggy-style Satanic orgasm (which was removed by the censors when it was first released in Britain, which is incredible to believe now! Talk about how times change!); the Masque itself; and the somewhat sinister monks roaming the countryside outside the castle, which gives the film a highly surreal air. If you like true Gothic melodrama, and by some miracle you've never seen this before, then ignore the age of it and treat yourself.
What a sight for the senses is this immaculate 2007 transfer of the original 1964 film. Nicolas Roegs' evocative cinematography and inventive use of colour has NEVER looked this good - and even on a 55 inch monitor!! The marvellous photographic compositions,bold costume design and impressive art direction make it hard to believe this film was made over 40 years ago. Even the numerous beautiful matte shots by Ray Caple & Bob Cuff look superb and grain free - again an unusual sight when it comes to process shots in older movies which tend to look muddy and over processed. The awful old pan & scan tv transfers (my only previous exposure to this film) have hopefully been sent to the bottom of the sea by now!
Excellent(mono)sound and picture perfect crisp 2.35:1 anamorphic imagery more than make up for the lack of any extras whatsoever - not even a trailer unfortunately. As good as this film has ever looked.
A wonderful jest indeed...
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