More Vincent Price horror and beyond

I thought the only Vincent Price flick I still hadn’t blogged about was The Last Man on Earth, but my late brother’s collection strikes again! I inherited a handful more films to cover along with it. So here goes.

SHOCK (1946)

 

In this early Price film, he plays a doctor who bashes his wife’s head in when she finds out he’s fucking around with another woman.

Little does he realize a woman living across the way sees and hears everything. But it causes her to fall into a comatose state, and she’s sent to the hospital to be cared for by….him!

Turns out Price’s other woman is his nurse, and when they realize the patient knows everything, they start to plot ways to make her forget…

 

Not a particularly frightening film on its own, but more of a thriller, Shock does have one super creepy scene, but it doesn’t involve Price. Set to the kind of scary, raucous thunder and lightning only old black and white moves seem to be able to pull off, this chilling scene has a psycho patient escape his room and sneak into hers.

 

TOWER OF LONDON (1962)

 

A more bizarre experimental crossover for both Vincent Price and director Roger Corman, this is basically Shakespeare’s Richard III reimagined as a semi-horror movie blending a ghost story and torture porn.

 

Wearing a ridiculous wig, Price is Richard, who is not happy when his dying brother Edward leaves his kingdom to their other brother. So Price kills the brother, blames Edward’s wife, and starts killing anyone who doesn’t swear total loyalty to him…and tortures anyone who doesn’t back up his lies.

 

In other words, it’s a historical lesson on what’s happening in the U.S. right now. Holy fuck, the dude does shit like suggesting that if you just keep repeating lies, the people will start to believe it. Someone he’s torturing even says, “Do you think you can destroy everything that stands against you?” 

 

Seriously, that mirroring of our current state of the union is the most frightening thing about this one. Other than that, Price makes silly scared faces as he’s endlessly confronted by ghosts of people he’s already killed.

 

There’s nothing classic Price horror about this one, and the climactic scene is horribly indicative of a b-movie trying to stage a major historical battle on film.

DIARY OF A MADMAN (1963)

 

This is one of Price’s better lesser-known films, with a premise that has long been borrowed in horror movies since.

Price is a lawman who meets with a man on death row. The man mentions the thing inside him made him do it, his eyes glow green, and he chokes out Price. Little does Price know the dude put the evil in him!

 

The odd thing about the film is that the evil inside Price talks to him through a mirror. It’s a mirror mirror on the wall situation. And the orders to kill amp up when Price starts dating a woman whose husband wants her back.

 

Price sort of goes Jeykll and Hyde when he kills, dressed in black and not quite remembering what he did when he snaps out of it. But the ultimate scene for a film of this age is when he discovers something he has hidden inside a bust he sculpted…

 

THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (1964)

 

This is the first film based on Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend, and it’s easy to see why it is credited as the inspiration and template for Night of the Living Dead, which came only a few years later.

 

It’s supposed to be about a lone man stuck in a house after a vampire infection spreads and kills everyone else, but these act much more like zombies, even if they do talk and he uses garlic to repel them.

The fatalistic opener with dead bodies on desolate streets is so foreshadowing of scenes from future Romero installments, and Price’s house is boarded up like Night of the Living Dead.

 

While hordes of vamps eventually bang on the doors, it’s mostly one particular vamp that comes at night and calls his name while hitting the house with a piece of wood. Since the vamp is so dexterous, it’s kind of weird that he can’t just rip the boards off the windows.

 

In daylight it’s safe for Price to go out and do errands and scavenge. He also kills as many vamps as he can and throws them in a huge fire pit.

 

There’s a whole sequence in which he realizes he’s not going to get back to his house before dark, and he fricking just runs right out into hordes of these things and fights them off! EEK!

The film shifts into flashback mode to show how he got to this point, how he was trying to figure out a cure for the infection, and how it got his family. So creepy when it gets his wife.

He eventually he takes in a woman  on the streets alone, which leads to an unexpected ending…that definitely puts a disturbing spin on a community of people gathering in church.

 

Definitely one of my favorite Price films.

DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE BIKINI MACHINE (1965)

 

The Dr. Goldfoot films are goofy exploitative sci-if comedies featuring Price as a mad scientist who wants to take over the world.

 

In the first film he mostly wants to get money from rich guys by having them marry what are essentially fembots he created. These bot babes then seduce their men into signing over all their assets.

 

Charmingly comical Frankie Avalon plays the one man who figures out the evil plot.

Once plenty of women are paraded around in their bikinis and sex gags are delivered, Avalon infiltrates Price’s laboratory…where Price even has an assistant named Igor.

And just for fun, there’s a “Pit and the Pendulum” scenario before a long-assed car chase finale.

DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE GIRL BOMBS (1966)

 

The sequel is directed by Mario Bava! But man is it bad.

 

Now Goldfoot focuses on taking over the world, beginning with swapping himself out with the leader of NATO, who looks exactly like him but has a stuttering problem…which Goldfoot has to master before he can go through with his dastardly plot.

 

This time teen heartthrob Fabian is the one causing him troubles…but he’s no match for Avalon’s humorous charisma.

 

The real comic gold in this stupid film is Price himself, who completely breaks the fourth wall and just has a total ball delivering the funniest lines.

Not to mention, he does drag.

It’s not often that we get to see just how great Price was at comedy, making this Goldfoot a piece of Price gold.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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