For a recent flight I downloaded a few short stories from Edgar Allen Poe. Creepy, I know, but I enjoyed them when I read them in high school. Afterwards, while waiting for a connection, I checked to see if there were film versions I could download for view on my next flight. There were two.
If you’ve read Edgar Allen Poe’s Gothic tale of the family cursed to a madness-induced, self-fulfilling prophecy of doom, you’ll better appreciate the film version. However, even if you haven’t, if you are a fan of the horror genre, you’ll likely still enjoy the 1960 rendition. Note, do not confuse the 1960 version with the 2008 version, the latter is largely soft gay porn.
A discordant tone is established almost immediately with filming at odd angles and often from behind a staircase or through a chandelier. Lighting is dark and moody. Sound editing is quite spectacular considering the era in which it was produced. The dialogue imparts a sense of mystery, since direct questions are answered with a vague duality. Until the last third of the film you won’t know what is really happening, that is, unless you’ve read the book.
To me, most of the film’s impact was due to the late Vincent Price. His long angular face, wicked facial expressions and ability use the right tone in his voice to disperse goosebumps across an attentive audience was likely what made him the poster boy for the horror genre. In House of Usher, his ability to talk softly, almost at a whisper, was disarming and added more mystery to house-bound Usher clan.
I enjoyed the this visual version of Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher and I was thrilled to know many of his other short stories were also made into films in the 1960’s, most of which star the King of Horror, Vincent Price.