I decided to write a horror novel for NaNoWriMo this year, and over the past few weeks I’ve been watching a lot of horror movies for inspiration. One of the best I’ve seen is the 1964 gem Masque of the Red Death, directed by Roger Corman and starring the legendary Vincent Price. It’s a brilliant film that may be the best Corman has ever directed.
Based on an Edgar Allan Poe short story, Masque of the Red Death is set in medieval Euorpe. Vincent Price plays a tyrannical noble named Prospero who also happens to be a satan worshipper and all around bad guy. When Prospero finds out that a plague called the Red Death has afflicted a local village, he burns the village to the ground and then invites a group of his fellow nobles to seek refuge from the plage in his castle. Prospero believes that his pact with the devil will protect him and his friends from the Red Death, believing the plague to be of his master’s creation. As he finds out however, death is not goverened by the powers of Heaven and Hell.
This movie is great on a lot of levels. The cinematography, set dressing, costumes and use of color all contribute to an amazing looking film. Price is fantastic as the arrogant noble, and Jane Asher is great as a peasant girl Prospero kidnaps and tries to convert to the dark side. The scares are few and far between, but the movie is very atmospheric, and there is a general sense of foreboding throughout.
I can’t recommend this movie highly enough if you are a fan of Poe, Price or Corman. It’s a standout.
4.5 out of 5 Plagues