Film Review: “Tales of Terror” (1969)

"The Black Cat," "Morella" and "The Case of M. Valdemar" comprise this famous trilogy based on the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe starring horror legend and Roger Corman regular Vincent Price in all three installments.

Review

This 1962 classic film from the now non-existent American International Pictures brings to life three classic Edgar Allan Poe favorites all staring the horror legend himself Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Basil Rathbone and was directed by Roger Corman and produced by the legendary Samuel Arkoff. These Poe classics begin with the chilling Morella. Vincent Price plays Locke, a man that blames the death of his beloved wife on their only child. Grief stricken he sends her away only to have her return 26 years later. Looking to try to repair the past with her father she is possessed by the spirit of her mother and begins to torment the poor man who they both blame for everything. This sorrowful yet haunting tale can only have a tragic ending.

The terror continues with Poe’s classic Black Cat where Price plays Fortunato and takes the drunken Montresor (Peter Lorre) home after a night of wine tasting at the local tavern. Once he gets his new friend home, Fortunato falls in love with the Montresor’s neglected wife. Jealousy enrages the Montresor and he takes his revenge on both of them by burying them in the cellar. The perfect end to the crime…I don’t think so when the Montresor looses track of his beloved black cat.

The final tale of pure terror by Poe is The Case of M. Valdermar. Valdemar (Price) is near death and in great pain and suffering. He seeks the help of a mesmerist to easy his pain played by Basil Rathbone. He eases his pain but holds him in a state between life and death in order to get to his wife. Just when you think he has the upper hand and all is lost for poor Valdemar’s wife death play’s it’s hand and takes his revenge against the mesmerist for denying Valdemar’s soul eternal peace.

My Comments

It’s no secret that I’m one of the biggest Price fans alive, so of course I’m going to say this is a great movie. However it is part of my job to be impartial about what I review. So with Tales of Terror I have to say that even though it gives actors like Lorre, Price, and Rathbone some great characters to work magic with it is kind of slow in parts and doesn’t really stay true to the original stories written by Edgar Allan Poe. However with all the movies from American International, Roger Corman, and Arkoff you can’t touch these sets. Any of their movies have the most impressive sets that even rival some of the sets seen in today’s films. If you are a classic horror/thriller fan or a Price fan this one will not disappoint you. If you are a Poe fan or prefer the more modern horror then I think you’ll like it but it will be low on your list.