Next up in the October Fear Fest and the Horror binge-a-thon is a film based on the story written by one of my all-time favorite authors, EYG Hall of Famer Edgar Allan Poe.
House of Usher is based on the story “The Fall of the House of Usher,” one of Poe’s classic tales of Gothic horror and macabre.
After a long trip from Boston, Phillip (Mark Damon) arrives at the House of Usher to see his fiance Madeline (Myrna Fahey) but he is met at the door by the loyal servant of the Usher family, Bristol (Harry Ellerbe). The servant attempts to sway Phillip into leaving, but he would have none of it, demanding to see Madeline and her brother Roderick (Vincent Price). Phillip intends to take Madeline with him back to Boston. Roderick insists that Madeline is sick and that the evil of the lineage of the House of Usher would not, could not continue. In fact, all of the Usher family has gone crazy and died horrible deaths and there is nothing that could be done about it.
How much the two remaining Usher family members were doomed to a curse compared to making this a self-fulfilling prophecy is a fascinating study here. You feel for the plight of poor Madeline and you believe that Roderick truly believed the insanity was unavoidable.
Vincent Price is the horror-filled goodness here as this marked the first time he and director Roger Cormen teamed up for an Edgar Allan Poe tale. They were really able to distinguish the tone of the story and made the terrors real. I was rooting for Madeline and Phillip, even though I knew that Poe’s works never come to a happy end.
I love Edgar Allan Poe and his work very much. I had not read “The Fall of the House of Usher” before this, but the film is supposedly one of the more faithful adaptations of his work.
For the time (1960) and the low reported budget, House of Usher looks great. The look of the film adds to the overall creepy feel of the film. The House itself brings a great deal of character to the film as well.
House of Usher works so well that you are disturbed and unhinged by what happens to the characters, despite the expectations that things would not go well.