My good friend, Fiend Gottes recently put up a blog about the legendary Vincent Price. It’s worth checking out.
Like a lot of horror fans my first experience with the genre was through a Vincent Price movie. Although a lot of the aspects of the movies are dated by today’s standards it is Vincent Price’s acting that makes them brilliant. I suppose there’s a certain charm to the overly dramatic music and narration of the movies as well. What appeals to me most about Vincent Price is facial expressions, the man could say more with a raise of the eyebrow or a grimace then a lot of actors can do with a line of dialogue. And then there’s his voice…
The thing about Mr. Price was he was quite capable of being both the suave gentleman, and the devious villain. Sometimes both in the same movie.
Although a lot of people think horror is merely about bloodshed and gore, Mr Price’s movies put more emphasis on atmosphere and psychological aspects of the genre. The visceral and graphic nature of horror was used sparingly. Perhaps more effectively that way.
In a lot of the movies that Mr. Price appeared in used extreme close ups of wide eyes or fear stricken faces. A very effective way to convey emotions. Emotion is a key element to a horror/thriller movie. Without emotion you have a shallow experience on film or paper.
Out of all of Mr. Price’s movies I would say that The Pit and the Pendulum is my personal favorite. Not only is it based on the Poe story but features a brilliant performance by Price. In my opinion his best one. The fact that the alluring and legendary Barbara Steele makes a minor appearance in it is equally great. Steele was rather legendary in European horror cinema but never made it big in the States since she didn’t fit the blonde bombshell stereotype of Hollywood at the time.
Trailer for Pit and Pendulum (1961):
For me Mr. Price’s movies stand the test of time as opposed to the slasher films and other exploitation features of the horror genre. When I think of the horror/thriller genre being elevated to the level of Art, Vincent Price’s work is right at the top of that list along with other Leviathans of the genre like Poe, Lovecraft, Matheson, and King. It’s people like Price and the others that give me inspiration and aspiration. That show that the genre is not merely the playground of adolescence but just as relevant as any other form of Art.