Sunday, October 4, 2015

Countdown to Halloween 2015 - Counting Down the Monsters #4 - Joseph Curwen

The first weekend of October is the 20th Annual HP Lovecraft Film Festival, so I'm definitely in a Cthulhu-mood. I've been attending the festival for years, and every year, it just gets better and better. As a monster kid, I'm always looking for some classic (or not-so-classic) monster movies involving Lovecraft to add to my movie watching record.

Released in 1963, The Haunted Palace (dir. Roger Corman) was the first feature film to tackle adapting an H. P. Lovecraft story. Based on "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward," the film uses the title of an Edgar Allan Poe poem to link the film to the other Corman-directed Poe adaptations of the time. Vincent Price plays Charles Dexter Ward and his ancestor Joseph Curwen.

Vincent Price was a master actor, and he was more than capable to play both the antagonist and protagonist of the film. His Charles Dexter Ward is sympathetic, but his Joseph Curwen is dastardly and downright rotten. He's wicked. He's manipulative. And he bosses Lon Chaney, Jr., around, and it takes a lot of monster to tell the Wolf Man what to do!

I watched this movie most recently when Dr. Gangrene and I talked about the film on Episode #210 of Monster Kid Radio (and that was then that I became fascinated by Daniel Haller who was the Art Director on this film, and then would go on to be the director of two other Lovecraft adaptations - Die, Monster, Die! and The Dunwich Horror - I really should try to learn more about that guy!).

Vincent Price is always a pleasure to watch. Whether he's the hero or the villain, he's instantly watchable and magnetically charismatic, which are some of the qualities that make his Joseph Curwen such a great villain and monster.

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