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The Masque of the Red Death (1964) Review

Ah, Vincent Price. If you have never seen a Vincent Price piece, then you really should. Price is horror film royalty and really helped define an era. A double whammy is the fact that The Masque of the Red Death is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. So, you have two greats working together. Not literally, but you get me. Directed by Roger Corman, Masque... follows the tale of a selfish prince who refuses to let in, or even help, the plague-ridden village. Instead he holds a party for the elite and they engage in all kinds of debauchery while the people die outside. Inevitably, Prince Prosper and the others like him get their just desserts – it turns out a physical embodiment of the plague, and Death itself, has been inside the castle the whole time!

This is not one of Price's best films, but that's because his catalog of works is not only vast, but he excels in what he does best - campy, 60s horror. In true, 60s style, the primary "horror" aspects seem exceptionally dated today. The main selling point of the film is that Prospero and co. are Satan worshipers. This is supposed to be not only terrifying but telling of the immense debauchery the Prince engages in, but it's not scary at all. It's merely laughable by today's standards. Despite the distance in time, The Masque of the Red Death is a wonderful adaptation of Poe. The film gives a good window in the narcissism and corruption of the upper class while also delivering memorable, chilling visuals. In one notable scene, a dwarf (who has been lampooned the whole film) gets his revenge on an aristocrat. I don't want to ruin what happens but know that it is deviously evil.

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The film is well acted and well executed, and even if the more sinister elements do not hold up to today's standards in fear, it is definitely a Vincent Price film worth watching.