**** Out of 5
Tagline- Look Into This Face, Shudder, at the Blood-Stained Dance of the Red Death! Tremble to the Hideous Tortures of the Catacombs of the Kali! Gasp at the Sacrifice of the Innocent Virgin to the Vengeance of the Baal!
Release Date- June 24th, 1964
Running Time- 88-Minutes
Screenplay- Charles Beaumont & R. Wright Campbell
Director- Roger Corman
Starring- Vincent Price, Hazel Court, Jane Asher, David Weston
Released in 1964 the Masque of the Red Death is the 7th film of 8 directed by Roger Corman based off the work of Edgar Allan Poe. The final film The Tomb of Ligeia would be released in the UK in 1964 and in the States in 1965. Everybody seems to have a different opinion on, which of the Corman films based off Poe is the best. If I had to pick one it would probably be the Haunted Palace though that film is based more off H.P. Lovecraft. Masque of the Red Death however is a very strong contender as its an excellent film. Of the 8 films the only one I personally disliked was Tales of Terror, but while Corman is known more as a producer despite having 56 directing credits and he’s also more known for his films as producer and director being more on the campy side (nothing wrong with that), but he’s also made some terrific films that are played straight with perhaps a little comedy and its Corman’s films based off Poe, which showcase what a terrific filmmaker he was.
Prince Prospero (Price) is safe in his castle from the red death plague he takes in some of the locals not to keep them safe, but to have fun at their expense. The screenplay was written by Charles Beaumont & R. Wright Campbell and its well plotted with some terrific characters. There’s nothing in particular I can cite about the screenplay that stands out, but its just a very well written film.
Director Roger Corman crafts a well paced film that looks excellent from a visual side. This is a different kind of horror film from Corman and while there is some suspense it doesn’t really play up to that aspect like some of the past Poe adaptions. The Masque of the Red Death is one of Corman’s stranger films as this has a few bizarre scenes. While this wouldn’t rate as my favorite Corman film I can easily see why some would list it as their favorite.
Overall the Masque of the Red Death is a solid film with a truly terrific performance by Vincent Price who really brings a touch of class to all his films. While Masque of the Red Death is quite odd at times it still makes for an excellent viewing.
Nicolas Roeg who would later go onto direct the cult classic Don’t Look Now served as the Cinematographer.