The House of Usher (1960)

On night 23 of my 31 night horror marathon, I watch a movie more than a decade older than I am.

After Piranha, I wanted to watch another Roger Corman movie. With him having directed 56 and produced almost 200 more (over 400 if you include ones he was EP or just came from his production company) there were a lot to choose from. Persuing a list of those people considered his best, or most essential, I was drawn to the eight Edgard Alan Poe based films he did with Vincent Price and settled on the first of the series.

Based on the short story, The Fall of the House of Usher, this movie is about a man who goes to visit his fiance at her home and finds out she is deathly ill. Her brother wants him to leave, but her refuses. Then then house tries to kill him.

That’s the basic premise, but when you watch the movie, it’s not that cut and dried. Is there really an Usher family curse, or is it all in Rodericks mind? Is Madeline suffering some from of hereditary illness, or is she anorexic? When she attacks her brother at the end, was he right about her succumbing to madness or is she royally pissed at him for having buried her alive? I love movies that make you think, and this one does that. Turns out there was nothing supernatural at all, it’s just about people.

One thing that may be off putting to anyone my age and younger, is the look and feel of the movie. It was made at a time when just filming it in colour put a big dent in their budget and most of the training that actors were still receiving was for the stage. Everyone keeps their back are super straight and they look like they are delivering dialog instead of having conversations. You can’t fault that though, a lot of the movies I’ve seen from the same time period are like this, it doesn’t make them bad.

With all of Mr. Poes works in the public domain, there have been quite a few adaptations of this story… I kind of want to check out some others, to see how they compare.

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