Tales of Terror (1962)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Roger Corman's Tales of Terror stars Vincent Price in a trio of short stories, liberally adapted by Richard Matheson from the works of Edgar Allan Poe. The film gets off to a rousing start with "Morella," in which Price's bitterness over the long-ago death of his wife results in tragedy for his estranged daughter Maggie Pierce. The last of the three terror-filled tales, "The Case of Mr. Valdemar," finds Price being put into a state of suspended animation by the diabolical Basil Rathbone; when … More

Rating: Unrated (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Horror, Mystery & Suspense, Classics, Comedy, Cult Movies
Directed By:
Written By: Edgar Allan Poe, Edgar Allan Poe IV, Richard Matheson
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 19, 2000
American International Picture


as Locke / Fortunato Lu...

as Montresor

as Carmichael

as Helene

as Lenora

as Morella

as Annabel

as Policeman

as Chairman

as Policeman

as Dr. James

as Servant

as Bartender

as Chairman
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Tales of Terror

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (2)

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

"The Black Cat" is the best story in the trilogy, a humorous tale that benefits from some unique technical tricks, a nifty twist ending and especially a wonderful performance by Peter Lorre.

Full Review… | April 18, 2015
Creative Loafing

Quite fun, and Vincent Price is terrific in his three roles.

Full Review… | April 17, 2015
Combustible Celluloid

An irreproachable one-stop shop for somebody looking to have a undemanding night with a CinemaScope Gothic shocker.

Full Review… | October 22, 2011
Antagony & Ecstasy

[VIDEO] Roger Corman's status as a reliable creator of pulpy low-budget horror movies was firmly established by 1962, when he made "Tales of Terror."

Full Review… | May 6, 2011

Audience Reviews for Tales of Terror

Don't you just love these old kooky horror pictures, look at this cast! Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Basil Rathbone, three ghoulish tales with three epic stars. As I'm sure you all know this is one of Roger Corman's Poe movie adaptations that made up his eight movie series (give or take). Most of which all starred Price and a selection of the greatest horror icons of the silver screen.

The movie is narrated by Price and all three tales star Price...so its a Price vehicle then. After the admittedly pointless narration we kick off with 'Morella' with Price. A young woman travels home to see her father (Price) who dwells on his own within a dusty cobweb ridden mansion. The woman wants to reconcile with her father after many years of no contact, the reason being her mother died giving birth to her and her father has never forgiven her for it. In fact he kept the young girls dead mother in the bedroom where she died, a rotting corpse, as you do. As the pair slowly grow closer together over time events take a turn for the worst as the spirit of the dead mother comes back for revenge.

This entire story seemed totally ludicrous to me frankly. A woman dies giving birth to her daughter and blames the baby on her deathbed for her demise. I mean yeah sure the baby did cause it but that's not the babies fault sheesh. Then that child's father (Price) hates her for most of her young life because of it?! The ending is even more weird because I have no clue why the dead mother comes back from the dead and does what she does (kill her daughter and husband), I also have no real clue why the mothers resurrected body swaps places with her recently murdered daughter, and why they then swap back again once the husband is dead (Price). So the dead mother comes back from the dead and kills her daughter for revenge and kills her husband whom she loved very much for...? I don't know.

I loved the visuals in this short tale. I adored the old creaking mansion set on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea, the haunted house look with lush period interior decorations (whatever period it was). The whole atmosphere in this tale was perfectly creepy and just what you'd expect from this type of old fashioned spooky story, its just a shame the plot made no sense.

The second tale was 'The Black Cat' which also incorporated 'The Cask of Amontillado', this starred Peter Lorre alongside Price. Here we see the drunken loutish Herringbone (Lorre) who abuses his wife by taking all her hard earned money and spending every night at the local pub. After stumbling into a wine tasting event he meets up with and befriends Fortunato Luchresi (Price) a wine expert. Herringbone invites Luchresi back to his place for drinks but Luchresi falls for Herringbone's wife and the pair have an affair. Herringbone gets his own back by luring Luchresi once again to his place for drinks, drugs him and walls him up in the cellar with his wife.

Its called The Black Cat because Herringbone's wife has a black cat which Herringbone dislikes. In the end the cat gives his murderous game away but to be honest the cat doesn't actually feature much in the tale so it seems rather moot. This is the one story that is presented in a light-hearted way with silly humour. Both Lorre and Price really have a good time hamming it up something chronic, the best example being the brilliant wine tasting competition between the pair. Again there are so many plot holes and conveniences like how on earth Herringbone manages to get anything done when he's so utterly drunk. This short tale isn't exactly scary but more of a parody or spoof really, its a fun one.

Lastly its 'The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar' with Basil Rathbone. Price's character of Valdemar is dying from a disease, Mr Carmichael (Rathbone) alleviates his pain through hypnosis. Carmichael does this as Valdemar passes away which traps his soul between the world of the living and the dead, in limbo as it were. Valdemar begs Carmichael to release him so he can pass over completely but Carmichael will not...for some reason. In the end Carmichael tries to force Valdemar's wife into marriage but she is rescued by the rotting corpse of Valdemar...somehow.

Again the plot makes little sense with no proper explanations, it all just happens. This is probably the eeriest tale with Rathbone on fine form as the dastardly villain although I'm not really sure what his goal is here. He keeps Valdemar's soul trapped in limbo but I dunno why, dunno what he's trying to achieve. I'm not entirely sure if the hypnosis was meant to ease Valdemar's death or prevent it because when he does die everyone acts as though something has gone wrong. No clue how Valdemar's soulless rotting shell of a corpse manages to spring to life and save his wife from Carmichael either but hey ho.

All in all I enjoyed this little anthology of horror, it wasn't scary or overly eerie but it was a barrel of high spirits. Some fantastic period set visuals with costumes and set details, some lovely old hokey special effects and hands-on practical makeup work and of course the three legendary movie icons. Probably one of the better anthologies I've seen mainly for visuals, its let down by the weak stories which other anthologies (Amicus) easily trump.

Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer


A review of each segment.

Morella: The most bitter and moody of the three segments. A pretty heart-breaking story of the shattered relationship between a father and daughter. Both Maggie Pierce and Vincent Price are good and really sell the tense relationship of the characters. Overall, a pretty solid segment despite the rushed and nonsensical ending.

The Black Cat: Combines elements from not only Poe's 'The Black Cat', but also 'The Cask of Amontillado'. This one is mostly played up for laughs. Peter Lorre plays a drunk jerk and he executes the part very well. He is unlikable but also funny and his scenes with Vincent Price are the highlights (the best bit being the wine tasting competition). Definitely the best segment.

The Case of Mr. Valdemar: The creepiest tale in the movie. Basil Rathbone plays a hypnotist who takes things too far when he traps Vincent Price's character in between life and death. Rathbone is very disturbing in the role and the idea of being trapped in your body is very terrifying. The ending is pretty shocking and it comes very close to capturing the gothic horror of Poe's stories.

Overall: This was a pretty well-rounded horror anthology. The stories are well-told and Prices narration throughout adds to the creepy atmosphere. Fully recommended for a dark Halloween night.

Christopher Heim
Christopher Heim

Super Reviewer


This is a very good anthology horror movie staring some of the great horror actors of the sixties. The stories are cool and the movie is pretty scary and creepy. I love it.

Aj V

Super Reviewer

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