The Haunted Palace Reviews
In 1875, Charles Dexter Ward inherits a Gothic castle-like Palace that, about 110 years earlier, had been brought over stone by stone from Europe and re-built overlooking the New England town of Arkham by his great great grandfather, Joseph Curwen. Curwen was effectively burned at the stake by the town's people for being a Necromantic Sorcerer (responsible for the impregnating of local young women by demonic entities) who cursed them all before he died - he vowed to return from death and get revenge on each of those responsible and all their descendants.
Curwen apparently had a back up plan ready to go should an angry mob end up murdering him, using his Necromantic Sorcery he ensured that his disembodied Spirit would remain "vital" within the Palace till he could find a suitable victim to possess and through whom he would be able to exact his revenge. Ignorant of his ancestor's history Ward decides to move to Arkham and into the Palace with his wife Anne, played by Debra Paget... big mistake.
Cue 60s Gothic Horror Movie melodrama hardened by a dark Lovecraftian weirdness. It has a good solid cast, that includes Lon Chaney Jr as Simon Orne - a loyal cultist/servant of Curwen's, and a sumptuous look typical of Roger Cormen's "Poe Cycle" for American International Pictures. The film itself is titled after an Edgar Alan Poe poem and in the closing scenes the final verse of that poem is narrated - '...While, like a ghastly rapid river, through the pale door, a hideous throng rush out forever and laugh - But smile no more'
The Haunted Palace marks the first time actual names of Lovecraftian Monstrosities, such as the Elder Gods Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth, are uttered on celluloid. It is also the first time Lovecraft's legendary black magic book, the Necronomicon, is not only mentioned but also makes its premier appearance in the history of motion-picture tropes as an integral prop and plot-device.
Not one of Cormen's best but certainly his most Lovecraftian. Vincent Price's performance is, as ever, a delight to watch.
It's an unrated film from '64 which is nuts, I'd say it's PG-13 if the film was re-rated. The film has got plot. Typical mediocre acting of the time outside of course, Vincent Price himself. The plot is a direct film adaption of an Edgar Allen Poe tale, like many of Price's films during the era. The film has a twistful ending. The score exists of just one song, but it's just so well used and timed. This is probably one of Price's' lesser known films and I definitely have to recommend it. It contains just the right amount of supernatural horror slasher without compromising on plot and overdoing violence. It's not graphic either.
Vincent Price gives his usual great performance. He was at his best as we slowly see his mind and soul being assumed by his warlock ancestor. Debra Paget is both beautiful and formidable as Price's leading lady; unfortunately, this was her final feature film. The supporting cast was excellent and filled with great character actors, especially Lon Chaney Jr. as Price's henchman and, Frank Maxwell, Elisha Cook, Jr., Leo Gordon, John Dierkes as the villagers.
This film may not be at the top tier of the Corman/Price/Poe batch of films, but it's still highly watchable and eminently enjoyable.
burned him alive. Pity his poor suffering wife.