The Haunted Palace (1963)

Rating: **
Review Date: 12/18/20
Director: Roger Corman
Cast: Vincent Price, Debra Paget, Lon Chaney Jr., Elisha Cook Jr., Cathie Merchant

A warlock named Joseph Curwen (Vincent Price) is burned alive by the riled up town of Arkham and he places a curse on their great-great-grandchildren. An odd choice, but whatever. One hundred and ten years later, Curwen's great-great grandson Charles Dexter Ward (also Vincent Price) inherits the Curwen castle, and the descendants of Arkham are immediately suspicious of his appearance and intentions. Which also raises the question of what happened to the previous two generations that DIDN'T inherit the castle and why has it been vacant for over a century? Again, an odd plot point. Anyway, after nearly being run out of town, Charles and his wife Ann (Debra Paget) check out the castle and a painting of Curwen starts possessing Charles. The spirit of Curwen, along with his former assistants, are driven to resurrect the Elder Gods through the Necronomicon, but Curwen's lust for revenge against the town gets in the way. Once again, the town rises against Curwen before the evil under the castle can be awakened.

Even though it's marketed as an Edgar Allan Poe film and uses the title of one of his books, it's actually an adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft story, "The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward." Vincent Price is wonderful as the conflicting characters of Curwen and Ward, and Debra Paget is lovely in what would be her final film before retiring. The film looks fantastic and the lavish sets create a delightfully spooky atmosphere. The music is appropriately tense and creepy, and bears a strong resemblance to "Batman" (1989) and "Dune" (1984). Unfortunately, the acting is uneven, the dialog is awkward, and the pacing is dreadfully slow, which drags down the enjoyment factor quite a bit. The makeup is also a bit uneven, with green face paint not extending to the neck and shoulders, which creates a glaring discontinuity.