The Fall of the House of Usher Reviews

  • Oct 20, 2020

    Haunting atmosphere with engrossing depictions of madness. Roger Corman's period psychological horror drama The Fall of the House of Usher (1960) is a brilliant film adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's short story of the same name. Corman directs arguably his finest film with dark moody tone and grim ambiance. His heavy use of fog machines, cobwebs, rats, candlelight, catacombs, coffins, and paintings make The Fall of the House of Usher effectively creepy in every scene. Roger Corman comes with a dreamy, aloof direction that locks you in an unforgettable Gothic mansion crumbling before your eyes. Floyd Crosby's cinematography and wide shots use Daniel Haller's gorgeous Gothic set and production to dazzling effect. The close-up shots just take you aback with the sheer emotional force of the actors within this dreary Gothic space. I love all the vibrant colors everywhere, especially when mixed with the fog for a neat surreal appearance. The entire film feels eerie with a haunting vibe next to Corman's artistic surrealism dream sequences and grounded dramatic encounters alike. Vincent Price is the obvious draw here as the raving mad Roderick Usher. His genuinely affectionate brotherly love is juxtaposed to daring vulnerability and gentle fragility. He goes from kind and open to unbelievably forceful and insane. He depicts paranoia and fatalism with a perfectly realistic depression. Vincent Price was one of cinema's greatest actors and The Fall of the House of Usher proves his deft skillness as a versatile actor. Price could play anything convincingly with determination as he completely commits to each character like they are real. Mark Damon is a nice surprise as a compelling hero named Philip Winthrop and apt foil to Price's obstinate host Roderick Usher. Damon is intriguing as he's charming and kind, patient and impertinent to the point that he feels like how a real man might react to such a strange circumstance. You feel bad for him the entire film. Myrna Fahey looks like a young Elizabeth Taylor with a similar ethereal quality to her elegant beauty. She's got charisma with an odd mystique that works wonders for The Fall of the House of Usher. You believe she cannot help but experience an existential terror at her own mortality. I should also mention Harry Ellerbe as the butler Bristol. He is simply weird and entertaining like Price. He is uninviting, yet polite. But he can also be abruptly rude and confusing. He is practically a Red Herring thrown in here to unnerve you immediately from the start. Richard Matheson modernizes Edgar Allen Poe's words for this unholy home story about deteriorating minds and evil bloodlines. Poe's writing is always depressing and classy and The Fall of the House of Usher is some of his finest prose. You feel deep empathy for the poor man desperately trying to marry his disturbed love, while you feel a strange sympathy for her poor brother suffering his numerous ailments. There's also a fun sense of humor about their endless maladies. The wife is curious as you are never let in to her true feelings, but you get a sense about her intentions and perspective in these dark matters of family, shelter, sins, and sanity. Anthony Carras' editing is slick with nice steady pacing as he lets scenes naturally play out without too many jump cuts away from the dialogue or few moments of action. The Fall of the House of Usher succinctly tells its bleak tale in a comfortable 79 minutes without wearing you down or wasting a minute. Les Baxter's soft symphonic score is truly beautiful and would be at home in any great period drama. He provides a sincere warmth and hope to a desolate world. Alfred R. Bird uses screams and creaking house sounds well for his sound design. Lastly, Fred B. Phillips did an excellent job dying Vincent Price's hair blonde and making everyone look pale or flushed. In all, The Fall of the House of Usher is an absolutely captivating picture with phenomenally creative direction from Roger Corman. Vincent Price never made a bad movie and he is hilarious, pathetic, sorrowful, raving, concerning, and devastating in The Fall of the House of Usher.

    Haunting atmosphere with engrossing depictions of madness. Roger Corman's period psychological horror drama The Fall of the House of Usher (1960) is a brilliant film adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's short story of the same name. Corman directs arguably his finest film with dark moody tone and grim ambiance. His heavy use of fog machines, cobwebs, rats, candlelight, catacombs, coffins, and paintings make The Fall of the House of Usher effectively creepy in every scene. Roger Corman comes with a dreamy, aloof direction that locks you in an unforgettable Gothic mansion crumbling before your eyes. Floyd Crosby's cinematography and wide shots use Daniel Haller's gorgeous Gothic set and production to dazzling effect. The close-up shots just take you aback with the sheer emotional force of the actors within this dreary Gothic space. I love all the vibrant colors everywhere, especially when mixed with the fog for a neat surreal appearance. The entire film feels eerie with a haunting vibe next to Corman's artistic surrealism dream sequences and grounded dramatic encounters alike. Vincent Price is the obvious draw here as the raving mad Roderick Usher. His genuinely affectionate brotherly love is juxtaposed to daring vulnerability and gentle fragility. He goes from kind and open to unbelievably forceful and insane. He depicts paranoia and fatalism with a perfectly realistic depression. Vincent Price was one of cinema's greatest actors and The Fall of the House of Usher proves his deft skillness as a versatile actor. Price could play anything convincingly with determination as he completely commits to each character like they are real. Mark Damon is a nice surprise as a compelling hero named Philip Winthrop and apt foil to Price's obstinate host Roderick Usher. Damon is intriguing as he's charming and kind, patient and impertinent to the point that he feels like how a real man might react to such a strange circumstance. You feel bad for him the entire film. Myrna Fahey looks like a young Elizabeth Taylor with a similar ethereal quality to her elegant beauty. She's got charisma with an odd mystique that works wonders for The Fall of the House of Usher. You believe she cannot help but experience an existential terror at her own mortality. I should also mention Harry Ellerbe as the butler Bristol. He is simply weird and entertaining like Price. He is uninviting, yet polite. But he can also be abruptly rude and confusing. He is practically a Red Herring thrown in here to unnerve you immediately from the start. Richard Matheson modernizes Edgar Allen Poe's words for this unholy home story about deteriorating minds and evil bloodlines. Poe's writing is always depressing and classy and The Fall of the House of Usher is some of his finest prose. You feel deep empathy for the poor man desperately trying to marry his disturbed love, while you feel a strange sympathy for her poor brother suffering his numerous ailments. There's also a fun sense of humor about their endless maladies. The wife is curious as you are never let in to her true feelings, but you get a sense about her intentions and perspective in these dark matters of family, shelter, sins, and sanity. Anthony Carras' editing is slick with nice steady pacing as he lets scenes naturally play out without too many jump cuts away from the dialogue or few moments of action. The Fall of the House of Usher succinctly tells its bleak tale in a comfortable 79 minutes without wearing you down or wasting a minute. Les Baxter's soft symphonic score is truly beautiful and would be at home in any great period drama. He provides a sincere warmth and hope to a desolate world. Alfred R. Bird uses screams and creaking house sounds well for his sound design. Lastly, Fred B. Phillips did an excellent job dying Vincent Price's hair blonde and making everyone look pale or flushed. In all, The Fall of the House of Usher is an absolutely captivating picture with phenomenally creative direction from Roger Corman. Vincent Price never made a bad movie and he is hilarious, pathetic, sorrowful, raving, concerning, and devastating in The Fall of the House of Usher.

  • Jun 14, 2020

    Not just the best Corman/Price/Poe combination, but possibly one of the greatest horror movies ever made. A tempered performance from Price, stunning visuals and direction and a blood chilling tale. Better than Poe's short story - a remarkable achievement.

    Not just the best Corman/Price/Poe combination, but possibly one of the greatest horror movies ever made. A tempered performance from Price, stunning visuals and direction and a blood chilling tale. Better than Poe's short story - a remarkable achievement.

  • May 01, 2020

    House of Usher is awash with vibrant colors: the rich red of Vincent Price's coat, the striking blue of Mark Damon's suit, the fragile pink of Myrna Fahey's nightgown, the pitch black of the young leads' hair, the eerie pale of Price's face. Even the candlesticks are scarlet and the simultaneously goofy and creepy dream sequence is shown through a screen of alternating purples, blues, and greens. This attention to color is even more acute than it is in the contemporary Hammer movies, and it is more essential to the film, as the story needs the diverse palette to liven up a script that takes place entirely in one setting with a cast of only four characters. While the colors offer some relief, they do not ruin the claustrophobic nature of Poe's horror tale of isolation, paranoia, and premature burial. The film ends with the house being wrapped in dynamic orange flames, mirroring the manic action, then sinking into the swamp, leaving only bleak grays and browns in its wake, signaling the close of a visually thrilling horror story.

    House of Usher is awash with vibrant colors: the rich red of Vincent Price's coat, the striking blue of Mark Damon's suit, the fragile pink of Myrna Fahey's nightgown, the pitch black of the young leads' hair, the eerie pale of Price's face. Even the candlesticks are scarlet and the simultaneously goofy and creepy dream sequence is shown through a screen of alternating purples, blues, and greens. This attention to color is even more acute than it is in the contemporary Hammer movies, and it is more essential to the film, as the story needs the diverse palette to liven up a script that takes place entirely in one setting with a cast of only four characters. While the colors offer some relief, they do not ruin the claustrophobic nature of Poe's horror tale of isolation, paranoia, and premature burial. The film ends with the house being wrapped in dynamic orange flames, mirroring the manic action, then sinking into the swamp, leaving only bleak grays and browns in its wake, signaling the close of a visually thrilling horror story.

  • May 13, 2019

    Vincent Price is fantastic as Roderick Usher in this rollercoaster of a film. Rich colour, rich acting and in general just a rich plot. Mighty impressed they could stretch such a thin Poe story into this, but it was actually great!

    Vincent Price is fantastic as Roderick Usher in this rollercoaster of a film. Rich colour, rich acting and in general just a rich plot. Mighty impressed they could stretch such a thin Poe story into this, but it was actually great!

  • Feb 09, 2019

    Didn't find it very interesting. Seemed to drag on at times. The concept was sound so may be it's the execution that was lacking. Wasn't very creepy or that tense. They did a great job on the look of the mom,

    Didn't find it very interesting. Seemed to drag on at times. The concept was sound so may be it's the execution that was lacking. Wasn't very creepy or that tense. They did a great job on the look of the mom,

  • Nov 03, 2018

    The movies greatest strength, far and away, is the performance of Vincent Price. The man is hypnotic to watch. My god, I could watch this guy read the phone book and be completely enthralled. The lines he's reading aren't always amazingly written, but he always makes them sound like sheer poetry. He also brings a great amount of depth to a fairly simple story. His character isn't really a villain, at least he doesn't seem to see himself as one, more just an obstacle to the main character. The movie is also beautiful to look at with gothic scenery and lavish sets. The story, a loose adaptation of the Poe story, works fine for what it is, and while it doesn't hit many surprises it hits the point it needs to for this sort of story; it doesn't really hit the full creepy factor that Poe managed to get to though, which is probably the films greatest fault. It's a fine October movie, a gothic story with great atmosphere and an amazing performance from Price. What it lacks in story it more than makes up for in atmosphere.

    The movies greatest strength, far and away, is the performance of Vincent Price. The man is hypnotic to watch. My god, I could watch this guy read the phone book and be completely enthralled. The lines he's reading aren't always amazingly written, but he always makes them sound like sheer poetry. He also brings a great amount of depth to a fairly simple story. His character isn't really a villain, at least he doesn't seem to see himself as one, more just an obstacle to the main character. The movie is also beautiful to look at with gothic scenery and lavish sets. The story, a loose adaptation of the Poe story, works fine for what it is, and while it doesn't hit many surprises it hits the point it needs to for this sort of story; it doesn't really hit the full creepy factor that Poe managed to get to though, which is probably the films greatest fault. It's a fine October movie, a gothic story with great atmosphere and an amazing performance from Price. What it lacks in story it more than makes up for in atmosphere.

  • Michael M Super Reviewer
    Nov 03, 2018

    The movies greatest strength, far and away, is the performance of Vincent Price. The man is hypnotic to watch. My god, I could watch this guy read the phone book and be completely enthralled. The lines he's reading aren't always amazingly written, but he always makes them sound like sheer poetry. He also brings a great amount of depth to a fairly simple story. His character isn't really a villain, at least he doesn't seem to see himself as one, more just an obstacle to the main character. The movie is also beautiful to look at with gothic scenery and lavish sets. The story, a loose adaptation of the Poe story, works fine for what it is, and while it doesn't hit many surprises it hits the point it needs to for this sort of story; it doesn't really hit the full creepy factor that Poe managed to get to though, which is probably the films greatest fault. It's a fine October movie, a gothic story with great atmosphere and an amazing performance from Price. What it lacks in story it more than makes up for in atmosphere.

    The movies greatest strength, far and away, is the performance of Vincent Price. The man is hypnotic to watch. My god, I could watch this guy read the phone book and be completely enthralled. The lines he's reading aren't always amazingly written, but he always makes them sound like sheer poetry. He also brings a great amount of depth to a fairly simple story. His character isn't really a villain, at least he doesn't seem to see himself as one, more just an obstacle to the main character. The movie is also beautiful to look at with gothic scenery and lavish sets. The story, a loose adaptation of the Poe story, works fine for what it is, and while it doesn't hit many surprises it hits the point it needs to for this sort of story; it doesn't really hit the full creepy factor that Poe managed to get to though, which is probably the films greatest fault. It's a fine October movie, a gothic story with great atmosphere and an amazing performance from Price. What it lacks in story it more than makes up for in atmosphere.

  • Mar 29, 2018

    Melodramatic at first, but the creepy sets and filmmaking techniques create an hallucinatory experience that's haunting, claustrophobic, and tragic.

    Melodramatic at first, but the creepy sets and filmmaking techniques create an hallucinatory experience that's haunting, claustrophobic, and tragic.

  • Mar 25, 2018

    Weird and a touch silly, but despite being a B-picture made by a B-studio, neither Roger Corman nor Richard Matheson treat the film as a disposable drive-in time-waster.

    Weird and a touch silly, but despite being a B-picture made by a B-studio, neither Roger Corman nor Richard Matheson treat the film as a disposable drive-in time-waster.

  • Mar 13, 2018

    It may only scare for the time, but Roger Corman knew how to build atmosphere with the limits he's been given. This is due to a well-written screenplay by Richard Matheson and great performances from the cast. Of course, Vincent Price is the star of the show once again dealing with death and his eccentricities bathed by the set design. We Look in astonishment as we see the house of usher fall to ruin in many ways.

    It may only scare for the time, but Roger Corman knew how to build atmosphere with the limits he's been given. This is due to a well-written screenplay by Richard Matheson and great performances from the cast. Of course, Vincent Price is the star of the show once again dealing with death and his eccentricities bathed by the set design. We Look in astonishment as we see the house of usher fall to ruin in many ways.