Monster of the Day #65

Of the big horror stars, only Vincent Price–arguably to his credit–does not remain associated with one signature character.  Indeed, in a career spanning from the 1930s through the ’90s, he only played onscreen a pair of characters even twice.  One was Egghead, and the other this fellow.  Even so, it’s a great character, and we even got an alternate version in perhaps Price’s greatest role, Edward Lionheart.

  • One of my friends and I have a long-running dispute over Dr. Phibes vs. Theatre of Blood. I vote for Phibes because of the art deco secret hideout. He votes for Theatre of Blood, because Emma Peel is Lionheart’s assistant. While Vulnavia is not Diana Rigg, she is still plenty dreamy.

    The doctor’s TWO doctorates? Music and Theology. What a guy.

  • Ericb

    That’s what Micheal Jackson would have looked like if he had made it to 65.

  • Ericb

    Some amusing anecdotes from Wikipedia:

    Cotten would grumble on the set that he had to remember and deliver lines, while Price’s were all to be post-dubbed. Price responded, “Yes, but I still know them, Joe.”

    Price commented that Cotten was uncomfortable doing these scenes, so he intentionally pulled a lot of faces to make him laugh.

    Vincent Price went through hours of make up, which often had to be reapplied as he kept laughing

  • The Rev. D.D.

    All I saw on the front page before the link loaded was “Vincent Price” and I KNEW which character it was. Just KNEW.

    I have not seen Theater of Blood, for which I am very ashamed. I have seen this though, and I utterly adored it from the first time, most of all Price’s performance. He, as usual, seemed to be having the time of his life. One of my favorite ever Price moments is in this movie. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who’s not seen it, but it comes after he’s finished off the Curse of Blood. (That expression is priceless.) I also love his little celebration after the Curse of Rats.

    There will never be another like him, and the world is a much poorer and colder place for it.

  • GalaxyJane

    Sandy, I am with you, Phibes over TOB any day of the week.

    I adore Diana Rigg, but nothing can compare with Phibes’s outre interpretation of murder by the plagues of Egypt. The first time I watched TOB I really felt like a watered down Phibes flick. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more had I seen it first.

    My favorite description of Dr. Phibes came from, I believe, Steven King, who called the Egyptian Plague plot “worthy of the palmiest days of the mid-60s Batman”. Sums it up pretty well I think.

    I have to admit, when I saw the front page, I assumed you had gone with the far more obvious Fly. For once I was glad to be wrong.

  • R. Dittmar

    Put me down on the Theatre of Blood side of the debate. It’s one of my favorite movies.

    I’m surprised no one else has mentioned what makes this movie so good. Shakespeare! Half or more of Price’s lines are made up of quotations and soliliquies written by the Bard himself. And Price is clearly having the time of his life hamming his way through some of Shakespeare’s greatest dialogue. Why waste time watching PBS when an old Vincent Price slasher pic can increase your cultural literacy tenfold?

    (As an aside for those who’ve seen the movie and not realized it, the critic that Lionheart gives the Joan of Arc treatment is played by Price’s wife in real life.)

  • roger h

    Great film.

    and as galaxyjane implied above, price did play the same character in The Fly and Return of the Fly. Point still holds.

    Wait, also some silly Italian stuff, Dr. Goldfoot.

  • I like both the Phibes movies and Theater of Blood, but Phibes tends to win out because the good guys win in those.

  • Rock Baker

    I have to go with Phibes over TOB. Both do a mean feat and manage to work well as satire AND horror (although I think Phibes might do a slightly better job of it). First time I saw TOB I wasn’t sure what I was watching (all I knew at the time was, “Hey, a Vincent Price movie is on TV!”). I’d just come off of some Amicus horror movies, so I thought it was a straight horror flick. But it was very strange. I didn’t catch on to the fact I was watching a Phibes-type spoof until I heard a line that implied how special and important critics are. Once I got what was going on, it became a much better movie. (I was young and stupid at the time, cut me some slack.) On the whole, I’ve always liked my genre stuff served straight, so I like Phibes a little better since it plays more as a horror movie with comedy in it, as opposed to TOB which struck me as a comedy with some horror in it.

  • BeckoningChasm

    I like the first Phibes film and TOB equally, though I would say that Price’s performance in the latter is excellent, while in the former he’s merely “good” as he usually is. (Price’s best acting is in “Witchfinder General, while his most fun role is probably in “His Kind of Woman.”) Didn’t care much for the second Phibes film, except for the deadly telephone and the best answer to the remark, “I don’t think — I KNOW!”

    I miss Vincent, wish he was still around.

  • Rock Baker

    I like Price in While The City Sleeps and Shock! In the former, he plays a reluctant newspaper magnate with a cheating wife. He plays something of a milksop here, but he seems a real enough person with understandable motivations, you feel sorry for him even when he does soemthing dishonest. (True, I may need to go back and watch it again to refresh my memory. Price didn’t have a lot of screentime, but the star-studded cast helps, since it was more soap opera than crime picture. Stars Dana Andrews, who I’m a fan of, so that makes it required viewing in my home.)
    Shock! is essential Price. He plays a doctor who kills his wife and then has to treat the amnesia victim who saw him do it. Price is great here as he both wants to help his patient but can’t let the truth come out. Since it fell into the public domain, and stars Price, it turns up on a lot of multi-movie horror collections. Great stuff, and some of his earlier work (1946 or 47 I think).

    Price (as Verden Fell, his handle in Tomb of Ligea) was a reoccuring character in the Femforce comic book back around issues 96 to 100 or so. In one issue, he butts heads with three modern horror directors (one a stand in for John Carpenter, another maybe Wes Craven) over how Poe-inspired horror was scarier than the hack-and-slash stuff being pushed at the time. Brad Gorby did the artwork during that period and drew the older Price, as if he’d been still living at the time. Price fans might be interested in checking out that issue (#98, with a Pit and Pendulum cover).

  • BeckoningChasm

    Price also played the role of “Vincent Van Ghoul” on that Scooby Doo show, but perhaps that only counts as one appearance since it was a sort of mini-series.

  • GalaxyJane

    Or because it sucked so dreadfully, dreadfully hard that the rest of us have consciously blocked it from our memories.


  • GalaxyJane

    Sorry about the whole turning things blue bit. I am a mistress of many things, but HTML sure ain’t one of them.

  • Plissken79

    I love Theatre of Blood, as both a horror movie and Shakespeare buff, the film as a great appeal for me.

    However, my favorite Vincent Price villian will always be his loathsome character in The Conquerer Worm (or the Witchfinder General), one of the rare roles where Price plays it straight and serious rather than haming it up.

    Of course, another great Price role no one has mentioned is Professor Ratigan in The Great Mouse Detective.

  • BeckoningChasm

    He also played it straight in “The Last Man on Earth,” which despite Richard Matheson’s dislike, remains the best filmed version of his novel. And he was great in what was little more than a cameo in “Edward Scissorhands” or, for that matter, Burton’s “Vincent” cartoon.

    I have to say, if I’m going to start listing enjoyable performances from Mr Price, I could simply paste in his credits from the IMDB. While I haven’t seen them all, I cannot think of a time when I watched Vincent Price onscreen and was not vastly entertained.

    PS: Alfred Hitchcock directed him, too (on the TV show).

  • zombiewhacker

    Since we’re talking VP here, how ’bout a shout-out for The Tingler?

  • R. Dittmar

    Since we’re talking VP here, how ’bout a shout-out for The Tingler?

    I hope Ken’s listening and has this lined up for a monster of the day! Despite having the most ludicrous origin story in the history of the horror genre, that thing still gives me the creeps.

  • BC– I *love* His Kind of Woman. What a weird ass film. And I agree, Price is visibly having more fun in that film than he ever had, which is saying something.

  • Gamera

    Oddly one of the few films where Price’s character is devoted to his wife instead of trying to knock her off!

    And question- why should you have to decide between Phibes and ToB? They’re both great movies! I guess I’d gravitate to the Phibes camp though because ToB is at least partly grounded in reality while I love Phibes for being totally bat-guano crazy over-the-top insane.

  • Eric Hinkle

    Has anyone here ever seen Price’s sole Western. BARON OF ARIZONA? Vincent Price as a con man who spends years setting up a scam by which he almost steals the entire state of Arizona.

  • Ken_Begg

    I really have to remember to order that through my library one of these days.

  • Eric Hinkle

    I don’t think it’s on DVD, which is a shame.

  • Gamera977

    I saw it on TCM a couple years ago. Not a half bad movie. It might be worth watching their schedule if they should run it again.

  • Eric Hinkle

    That’s where I caught it. Rather a different sort of Western from the usual.