Halloween White Elephant: The Masque of the Red Death (1964)


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From John–“Is this Roger Corman’s best film?  Possibly.  I gave this one to Jacob Hall because it’s still fresh on my mind after seeing it a few months ago on Netflix.  MASQUE is genuinely perverse, sinister, and colorful, and stands out as the richest of Corman’s cheapies, a little closer in tone to Hammer Films than American International Pictures was typically known for. Time has sort of unfairly lumped it in with all of Corman’s Poe films; I think it stands out as a great horror film. My hope is that Jacob will think so too.”

Did you know that Roger Corman could actually direct? I’m not talking about a some unintentionally funny B-movie piece of junk, I’m talking about an intentionally interesting, creepy B-movie slice of awesome. The Corman name may be synonymous with schlock — and let’s face it, the man deserves it, mainly because he produced a whole bunch of worthless junk because it made him a whole bunch of money — but when he actually got behind the camera and had a decent script in his hand, he was capable of producing some damn fine schlock, schlock so good that it stops being schlock and starts being, I dunno, good schlock. His The Wasp Woman is one of the more character-driven “human becomes a monster” B-movies of the 1950s and his X: The Man With X-Ray Eyes is a legitimately fascinating science fiction film. Better than both of those is his adaptation of a classic Edgar Allan Poe story, The Masque of the Red Death, which manages to effectively Hollywood-ize the original story (Poe’s work is so internal that you’ve got to take some liberties) while capturing what makes the story work in the first place.




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