Tales of Terror (1962)


Directed by: Roger Corman 

Written by: Richard Matheson 

Story by: Edgar Allen Poe 


Vincent Price .... Locke / Forunato Luchresi / Ernest Valdemar 
Maggie Pierce .... Lenora 
Peter Lorre .... Montresor 
Joyce Jameson .... Annabel 
Basil Rathbone .... Carmichael 
Debra Paget .... Helene 
David Frankham .... Dr. James

Release Date: Theatrical: July 4, 1962





Three tales based on Edgar Allen Poe's stories are revealed here with the first chapter titled Morella, a young woman named Lenora (Maggie Pierce) reunited with his estranged father Locke (Vincent Price) who blames the death of his wife and is in sad shape but eventually is greatful that Lenora finally touched base with him after all these years. However, his wife isn't totally dead as he thinks as her spirit seems to have a creepy plan up her sleeve.

The second chapter The Black Cat tells the tale of a drunken obnoxious man named Montresor (Peter Lorre) who mistreats his wife Annabel (Joyce Jameson) as well as their pet cat. He goes drinking at his local bar but challenges a the local wine-tasting champion named Forunta Luchresi to a competition.
Later on he invites Forunta to his home only to find out that he is having a private affair with his wife which enrages him. He loses his sanity and does something deadly to the two of them for this. Yet his cat is a witness to this and is smarter than the average feline.

The third and final chapter The Case of M. Valdemar is the story of a dying man named Ernest Valdemar who agrees to be hypnotised by a madman named Carmichael (Basil Rathbone) but he has unexpected consequences and forces Ernest's wife Helene (Debra Paget) to marry him. Yet his hypnotism backfires and something is coming to him very soon.


This is set out as one of those typical old fashioned horror flicks in which we hear a voice over narraction byVincent Price of course as well as a shot on a hearbeat and some blood too which adds to the films nice touch to the stories about to unravel.

In the chapter Morella the story is short and simple showing a good beginning when the setting looked creepy with the character named Locke looks expressionless and wicked like towards the character Lenora when she tries to be open with him about her telling him she's his estranged daughter in which this can seem almost disturbing with him acting negative towards her when she tries to act nice and calm towards her. The story seems to go around in circles alot with Lenora wandering around his home but finds a corpse which was his dead wife no toher than Morella which seems to add a nice touch to this first chapter proving that this is a horror anthology.
It is nicely written in when Locke shows a good emotional and happy attitude that his daughter finally reached out to him making this almost quite touching. 
The story does seem to become quite spooky with the ghost of Morella rising up from her corpse and then slowly goes to the sleeping body of Lenora as this left me an impression that something bad is going to happen and it just does. 
The ending looked classy with Morella taking over a body and approaching wickedly towards Locke. I just loved the real haunting horror feel to all of this making this moment become incredibly mysterious.

The chapter The Black Cat was the longest chapter in the anthology in which we see a nice animated opening of red cat paw prints walking by in which this looked quite amusing. Then a drunken character named Montressor just bein plain obnoxious towards his wife Annabel which she seems light headed on all of this in which made me wonder if she was just a plain basket case or is trying to see good in him. Plus there's always a black cat surrounding him and he is mean to it as I find this disturbing since it seems to try and be friends with him. I was hoping that this cat won't be harmed as this drunken dude seemed reckless. 
There's a really long scene with the character Forunato Luchresi as a wine taster having a competition towards Montressor in a bar but this seemed to be quite a bore to watch even if it was supposed to look humoress. It could've been trimmed down just a bit. 
Then later on in the story Forunato is invited over to Montressor and Annabel's house in which he serves him more wine in which this was set out by getting the impression that the wine is poisoned and that Montressor knows something about him that he doesn't like. This was well put in to the story leaving more unsolved mysteries while we watch this. Then when Montressor tells him his wine is poisoned he suddenly passes out which seemed a little too obvious and watching this looked awfully corny too. 
The terror seems to start up when Montressor walls him in with bricks in which this is a good psychological horror feel thinking on the worst way to die especially dying slowly since there's no food or anything and starving for days and days as well as having a lack of oxygen. This was brilliantly put in making many viewers really start to cringe big time. 
The story then gets really weird as Montressor seems to have dream sequences showing special effects camera shots with the screen widening around as well as twisted moments with both Fortuna and Annabel tearing off the head of Montressor and playing catch with his head as well as him screaming and complaining which looked very strange to watch and I was thinking to myself that this has gotta be a dream. 
There's other moments like when he's awake he's hearing ghostly sounds from those two which can leave a chill down your spine as well as a cat howling in which this seems to be his imagination or is it?! Plus you wonder as to what happened to these two after being walled up but we find out later on for sure. 
Alot of these elements were used for another film almost 3 decades later in a 1990 direct-to-video flick known asBuried Alive.

The final chapter The Case of M. Valdemar was quite impressive showing a nice beginning with this character named Ernest Valdemar being hypnotised and there's different colors of light shining on him and then later some nice touching moments between him and his wife Helene having a concerned discussion about his health which looked nice and serious on how this was all written. It seemed to come together well.
The writing came in handy with the hypnotist Carmichael getting obsessive and almost demented when he does another performance with Ernest as if he was some sort of a mad scientist. Later on when Ernest is supposedly dead it was neat hearing his faded type speaking acting haunting like floating in the air. This seemed very twisted like and done in fair taste.
There's some good settings outside like a rainstorm or later on a snowstorm which fit the plot quite well along with Dr. James acting wicked and forcing Helene to marry him which on how this was done seemed to be in a good madman horror tradition.
Then towards the end looked greatly done with the effects used when you think that Ernest is helpless but rises up for revenge in which this almost seemed like a pre-Night of the Living Dead with elements of others things. This was definetely a classic moment.

Bottom line is the film seemed to be entertaining but would be alot better as a radio play in which some of the scene's seemed to have lacked a bit and the story tended to drag alot. Yet the chapters were very short and not overly long. You need to be in the right mood for it and would be fun to watch if you're in the mood for an old fashioned horror flick. Of course Edgar Allen Poe was brilliant with his stories he wrote a few centuries back.

The acting seemed to do pretty well as lead actor Vincent Price (Locke / Forunato Luchresi / Ernest Valdemar) played in all three chapters. He was fairly versatile portraying these characters. In Morella he shows a good bitter type of behavior with nice stern expressions and really fitting in to someone who is disturbed by his past. He also shows a nice emotional attitude too with all of this. Plus has good facial expressions when he does a cold stare at someone. He also has a good choked reaction on what he spots during the end of his performance here. In The Black Cat he seemed to show some humor as a wine taster but at the same time didn't seem very funny which was probably due to the writing. He lacked a bit of energy in certain spots especially when he shows his fear. There's nice facial expressions on him when he is tasting wine on a contest in a bar. Also There's a good shocking reaction on him while drinking some wine and passing out but at the same time he seemed a bit over the top with the blocking on him doing all of this. He also seemed to lack and was over the top when he was crying for help while being walled up. Yet he does well in hallucination sequences sounding quite spooky like. He made it up though in The Case of M. Valdemar as he seemed convincingly sick with how he coughed or acted weak as well as having a nice charm to his role too in the serious moments. He was fairly strong in all of this. Plus he was good by acting dazed out too. A nice moment on him opening his eyes and acting expressionless rising up from his bed and walking towards somebody.
Maggie Pierce (Lenora) shows a nice sympathetic type of behavior in her film along with showing a nice intensity in her lung power when shocking moments starts to happen. Also she has a good and calm reaction in a cetain scene when she is having someone being aggressive towards her. She basically showed alot of decent energy into all that she did in the film.
Peter Lorre (Montressor) was quite a ham in his role and at the same time really knew a thing or two by portraying an obnoxious drunk with his loud and violent behavior. He stood out the most I found with all the cast members in this anthology by acting someone who isn't pleasant at all as well as being obnoxious and making this believeable. There was a situation where he picks up a vase and throwing it to the ground with a good heavy might along with having a good nasty reaction towards a cat. Shows a ton of great energy acting full of life in a bar bringing his character to life big time here. He does well going down a staircase and acting out of it. He certainly studied this role inside out. Plus he does well by acting paranoid too in a humoress fashion. All in all he almost seemed like he was acting on stage than in film which is the true craft of acting. A born character actor this guy was. 
Basil Rathbone (Carmichael) was another great character actor playing a hypnotist in which he really drew in a great deal with his intensity and madness to the big screen. He came across as a mad scientist of some sort with what he did as well as having a good sneering type of speaking in his voice really bringing up a high level of aggression and energy too. He was great at acting forceful in some scene's making what he did believeable and knew how to play a traditional type of villain when he did this. Also he really does a sharp performance while hypnotising someone by looking good and serious. He shows a good insane aggression towards somebody in which this looked intense and strongly done in a good fashion. Does well screaming in terror during the end of his performance showing a nice fearful energy on his behalf.
Debra Paget (Helene) seemed to come across strongly in her performance and put alot into what she did throughout the film. She studied her role quite well and really knew on how to show some nice emotions into her role too. Plus does a great job whenever she acted anxious or fearful really bringing out alot of enthusiasm into this too along with a great screaming reaction and another nice reaction on her passing out along with good fearful reactions in other suspenseful situations in the story. 
David Frankham (Dr. James) seems to have that clean cut guy next door type of appeal and delivered his lines nice and crisply. He certainly put alot of characterisitics and the odd aggression along with the rest of the rest coming across as someone who is smart and protective. There's a good stern moment with him pointing a gun towards someboday else. He definetely shows a nice seriousness to his role too.

A head is torn off and tossed back and fourth between two people but this isn't as bloody as it sounds
A body rises and then his skin turns yellow and looking slimy

There's nice weeping violin playing with other types of powerful orcehstral music and the odd clicking and quivering sounds used in the film which seemed to suit the story showing some emotional moments in the beginning and then having some good spooky sound settings when a ghostly moment occurs. There's alot of deep trumpet playing with the odd drum booming too for when the terrors start to occur. Plus some uplifting sounds for the odd humorous moments too. There's perfect operetta chanting for the closing credits leaving the film to have a perfect touch to it. All of this was nicely put together by Les Baxter.

Montresor Herringbone: Why don't you watch where I'm going, huh?

Montresor Herringbone: Pardon me, ladies, but could you spare a coin for a moral cripple?

Fortunato: [as the cat that Montresor detests jumps into his lap] My, what a lovely cat!

Title Card: I had walled the black monster up within the tomb!... Edgar Allan Poe