The Masque of the Red Death 1964


A rare combination; Roger Corman, producer king of the B movie exploitation film teams up for a directorial outing with cinematographer Nicolas Roeg, whose artistic gift led on to Don’t Look Now and The Man Who fell To Earth. The result, based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe, is something of a triumph, taking the hammy medieval fun of the AIP pictures and elevating it to high art. Using some of the sets for Becket (1964), Corman’s lavish film depicts Prospero (Vincent Price), who discovers that the red death is ravaging the countryside, and holds a spectacular ball within the walls of his castle so that the rich can party while the poor rot outside. He choses Francesca (Jane Asher) as a plaything for the evening, but his plan attracts the attention of rebellious villagers. Corman and Roeg get everything right; the red-suited figure of death moving through the party, the series of multi-coloured rooms the characters pass through, all are rendered is a fabulously vivid and beautiful fashion. Poe’s story has a bleak and caustic world-view, and beneath the pretty pictures, The Masque of the Red Death nails the banality of evil in colourful style. On Amazon Instant.



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