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The Vincent Price Collection - Blu-ray Review

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The Vincent Price Collection - Blu-ray Review

5 beers

The films in the collection might be at random and, as a result, it might be incomplete but Shout Factory’s release of The Vincent Price Collection is truly something any fan of classic horror can celebrate with cake, decorations, and nonstop parties this Halloween season.  These richly atmospheric six films – The Fall of the House of Usher (1960), The Pit and The Pendulum (1961), The Haunted Palace (1963), The Masque of the Red Death (1964), The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), and Witchfinder General (1968) – represent the best and most imaginative horror films of the latter half of the 20th century.

Starring Price in the leading role (finally!), these acclaimed gothic-themed films – while in a class all to themselves – deserve a spot next the very finest of horror films.  All six films are brilliant, achieving legendary status due to their distinctive successes in the genre.  They are filled with classic suspense, superb set designs, and spine-chillingly original moments that simply cannot be ignored.  Considering the talent involved, it is little wonder that – both visually and narratively - all of these films are completely ahead of their time.

Four of the six – The Fall of the House of the Usher, The Masque of the Red Death, The Haunted Palace and The Pit and The Pendulum –    prove just how dazzling famed producer/director Roger Corman truly is behind a camera.  Look up masterpiece in the dictionary and you’re bound to find these titles as the example.  These films are all mesmerizing.  From burial sequences to the disturbing oeuvre of German expressionism, these films are riveting and timeless.

While the set is missing the other Corman-helmed Poe movies, the Edgar Allan Poe adaptations (and one combined with H.P. Lovecraft) in this set benefit greatly from Corman collaborators Nicolas Roeg, Charles Beaumont, R. Wright Campbell, and the ever brilliant Richard Matheson.  Cinematographer Floyd Crosby twice proves his abilities to warp minds by shooting blue hued sequences both otherworldly and disturbing in The Pit and the Pendulum and The Haunted Palace.

The final two films in the set – The Abominable Dr. Phibes, and Witchfinder General – are great at showing just how strong of an actor Price is.  The black comedy of Dr. Phibes shines in stark contrast to the demented corruption of Witchfinder (otherwise known as The Conquering Worm).  Price is known as a totally committed actor and the love for his profession shows with these two films.

Heightened by a silent performance (save for voice over) as Dr. Phibes, Price stars as a doctor, scientist, scholar and concert organist, looking to get revenge on those nine doctors unable to save his late wife’s life.  The results are hilarious and stylistically groovy in that early 1970’s vibe.  And in Witchfinder, Price is a 17th Century lawyer turned witch hunter who gets a bit too much enjoyment from the hunt.  And it is about to catch up to him.

Yet, as a final note on this spectacular set, it must be pointed out that Price – long underrated as a simple one-note character actor – is absolutely brilliant at understanding roles.  He’s campy when he needs to be; serious when the plot expects it, and – as always – entirely watchable.  He’s a professional through and through.  Hopefully, this release is just the beginning of what Shout Factory’s subsidiary Scream Factory has in store for Vincent Price and his fans.

The Vincent Price Collection is the blu-ray release of the year.  This is not to be missed.  Now bring on Volume Two!

The Vincent Price Collection - Blu-ray ReviewThe Fall of House of Usher a.k.a House of Usher

The Pit and the Pendulum

The Haunted Palace

The Masque of the Red Death

Witchfinder General

The Abominable Dr. Phibes

The Vincent Price Collection - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - October 22, 2013
Screen Formats: varies
Subtitles
: Varies
Audio:
Varies
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Four-disc set (4 BDs)

Presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Scream Factory, an imprint of Shout! Factory, with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in anamorphic 2.35.  The bad news is it doesn't appear that any major restoration work was done on these films.  The white speckling and very light scratches that appeared on the MGM DVDs are still present, which makes one think these are just upgrades of the previous prints.  Don’t sharpen the knives, yet.  The good news is that the previous prints weren't bad at all.  Detail is very pleasing throughout and the strong use of color that almost all of these films employ comes through well.  All of the films are presented in a very good DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix.  Dialogue, music cues and sound effects are crisp and clear. No complaints at all on the sound front.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Each movie gets its own commentary.  In some cases, there are two commentaries per movie.  These are fun, informative, and generous in what they add to the experience of the movie.  The participants are Producer and Director Roger Corman, author Lucy Chases Williams, Richard Heft, Tom Weaver, Steve Haberman, Robert Fuest, Justin Humphreys, Philip Waddilove and Ian Ogilvy and they all provide informative commentaries on the film and on Price.

Special Features:

Each disc gets its own movie-specific batch of supplements, many have been ported over from the old MGM Midnite Movie DVDs but there are wonderful rare goodies new to this set. Every film includes its original theatrical trailer and a Still Gallery.  The new material is listed by film below.  This is yet another really commendable set put out by Shout! Factory.  The company continues to impress with some very thoughtful packages that include a number of really excellent supplements, as well as generally excellent video and audio quality.

  • Vincent Price's Introduction and Final Words for The Fall of the House of Usher (7 min)
  • Audio Interview with Vincent Price Conducted by Film Historian David Del Valle (41 min)
  • Theatrical Trailer (3 min)
  • Photo Gallery (4 min)
  • Pit and the Pendulum: Rare Prologue (5 min)
  • Vincent Price's Introduction and Final Words for The Pit and the Pendulum (5 min)
  • Theatrical Trailer (2 min)
  • Photo Gallery (4 min)
  • Vincent Price's Introduction and Final Words for The Haunted Palace (5 min)
  • A Change of Poe: An Interview with Producer and Director Roger Corman (11 min)
  • Interview with Producer and Director Roger Corman (19 min)
    Vincent Price's Introduction and Final Words for The Masque of the Red Death (6 min)
  • Witchfinder General: Horror Classic (25 min)
  • Play Movie with Introduction/Outroduction by Vincent Price (5 min)
  • Interview with Vincent Price (62 min)
  • Interview with Victoria Price (48 min)
  • Alternate Opening and Closing Credits for The Conqueror Worm (6 min)
  • Introductory Price: Undertaking the Vincent Price Gothic Horrors (13 min)

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