This triple treat of terror is a three-episode "blood-dripping package that includes murder, necrophilia, dementia, live burials, open tombs, exhumation, resurrection, zombies and feline vengeance," resulting in nothing less than "juicy entertainment" and "spine-chilling cinema" (Cue). Mix in three of horrordom's greatest villains, Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Basil Rathbone, and you've got a shocker you dare not to watch alone!
Price stars in all three episodes, including Morella, in which a man is haunted after blaming his young daughter for the death of his wife. In The Black Cat, a pair of illicit lovers are buried alive by a jealous husband, and in The Case Of M. Valdemar, a sorcerer's spell backfires when he sentences an innocent man to living hell.
With a powerhouse team of talent, including Roger Corman, Richard Matheson ('I am Legend'), Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Basil Rathbone, these three short horror films are still a lot of fun to watch some 53 years later. During the 50s and 60s, there was a surge in filmmakers showing their vision based on Edgar Allan Poe stories. In 1962, Corman and Matheson signed on Vincent Price to star in 'Tales of Terror', which showcased four different Poe stories in three separate shorts. Still to this day, there are a few genuine scares and quite a bit of comedy, which Corman added in to change things up a bit. It's difficult to top this cast and crew in the horror genre, even to this day.
The first segment is 'Morella', which has an old man (Vincent Price), living in a house all by himself when his daughter Lenora (Maggie Price) comes along to visit him after many years of not keeping in touch. Morella's father still blames Lenora for killing her mother Morella, when she gave birth to her, and Lenora has a secret of her own as to why she's finally decided to stop by and see her father. The two try to bury the hatchet and get on with their lives, but a seemingly deceased Morella might have an opinion or two of her own from beyond the grave.
The second segment adapts 'The Black Cat' and 'The Cask of Amontillado' into one story. This is where Matheson and Corman decided to add a bit of comedy so as to not have a full on horror marathon through the entire 89 minute run-time. By doing this, it gave the audience a bit of break from the suspense and melodrama and ended up being one of the better segments here. There's a man by the name of Montresor Herringbone (Peter Lorre), who would rather focus on drinking at all hours during the day than attend to his wife Annabel (Joyce Jameson) and her dastardly black cat.
In fact, if Herringbone had it to do over, he would have married his booze and thrown out his wife. The old joke, "Take my wife, please", comes in handy here. At his local favorite bar, he meets a guy named Fortunato (Vincent Price), where the two of them engage in a wine drinking contest. One thing leads to another, and Fortunato and Annabel have a torrid love affair, which Herringbone sees. You'd think a guy who hates his wife this much would be grateful, but he isn't and he takes a few drastic measures to make sure the two lovers never hook up again, and maybe this is the way to get rid of that darn cat. The banter and chemistry Lorre and Price have here is hilarious as they crack jokes and act silly. It was quite a treat.
The final segment focuses on 'The Facts In The Case of Mr. Valdemar', where Vincent Price plays a wealthy man who is in severe physical pain. He enlists the help of a hypnotist named Carmichael (Basil Rathbone) who hypnotizes his patient into feeling a bit better, but Carmichael has other plans, which include marrying Price's wife Helene (Debra Paget) and keeping Price in a ton of pain, trapped between two worlds. 'Tales of Terror' still manages to elicit some fairly suspenseful moments and captures Poe's stories quite well. Lorre, Price, and Rathbone all turn in great performances, but the highlight is Lorre and Price drinking wine together. That scene is very comical. With an excellent score from Les Baxter, this horror trilogy of short stories still packs an entertaining punch.
'Tales of Terror' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This film is 53 years old and Kino Lober has knocked this video presentation out of the park, considering the age of this movie. The overall look of the picture looks impressive and is definitely a big upgrade from previous home video releases. Detail is rather sharp this time around, showcasing excellent closeups that reveal wrinkles, hairs, and big make up blemishes on Vincent Price and Peter Lorre's faces.
Colors are very well saturated, where everything looks a bit brighter, more realistic, and seems to pop off screen like it never has before. There is a very nice layer of grain still so that the new transfer doesn't have andy rough edges or a digital look to it. This transfer has quite a bit of depth as well, giving new looks to background props and characters. There were no significant or major problems with dirt, debris or compression problems either. Given the age of the film, this video presentation looks practically perfect.
This release comes with a great lossless DTS-HD Mono mix, and although I would have preferred a 5.1 option to have the full immersion, Kino Lober has given us a well balanced track on one channel. The sound effects, ambient noises, dialogue, and score all layered and never overpower any of the other audio aspects. I'd say the best thing about this mix is the haunting and fun score by Les Baxter as it always comes in full and adds to the suspense and comedy to each scene.
The dialogue is clear and easy to understand throughout. There were no instances of any high shrieking, pops, cracks, or hiss to speak of. Nothing is ever too overbearing here, nor will the sound or scares rattle the walls, but that being said, this mono track does a decent job.
Audio Commentary with Tim Lucas - Tim Lucas is a film historian who delivers an excellent audio commentary here. He discusses most of the information and behind the scenes facts from the making of the film as well as a critical study of the film. He also dives into the characters, actors, and Poe's original stories. Great listen.
Audio Commentary with David Del Valle, and David Frankham - Actor David Frankham discusses his time shooting the film and getting along with the other actors, where film historian Del Valle talks more about Vincent Price and horror movies in general. Still, a great listen.
Interview With Roger Corman (HD, 11 Mins.) - Here is a video interview with Roger Corman as he discusses how he shot the film, working with the big-name actors, and his love of horror.
'Trailers From Hell' With Roger Corman (HD, 3 Mins.) - Here is a clip from the internet show 'Trailers from Hell' where Roger Corman talks a little bit about where' Tales of Terror' came from.
Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 Mins.) - Trailer for the film.
'Tales of Terror' is still as fun now as it was back in 1962. How Corman and Matheson mixed the comedy and horror is quite brilliant and memorable. These might be some of my favorite version of Edgar Allan Poe's stories brought to the big screen. The video and audio presentations are both excellent and there are some amazing extras here, all of which are worth listening to and watching. If you're a fan of vintage horror and Edgar Allan Poe, don't hesitate to pick this up. Highly Recommended!