A real coup for Roger Corman and AIP, HOUSE OF USHER was the first of their horror films that had a decent budget ($350,000), boasted a shooting schedule of more than 10 days (they were allowed 15), was shot in color and CinemaScope, and was "inspired" by Edgar Allan Poe. The gamble paid
off and the film was a critical and commercial hit that unleashed scads of other films based on the works of Poe.
The wonderful Vincent Price stars as Roderick Usher, the creepy, white-haired owner of the mysterious house of Usher, who lives in seclusion in the creaking old house with his sister, Madeline (Myrna Fahey). When Madeline announces her engagement to Philip (Mark Damon), Roderick will have none of
it and informs her betrothed that he and his sister are the last of the Ushers and they suffer from a bizarre madness that must not be transmitted to another generation. When Philip refuses to leave the spooky house despite this warning, strange accidents befall him, and he is nearly killed.
Meanwhile, Madeline falls ill, and soon after, Roderick informs Philip that she has died of a heart attack and entombs her in the family chapel. The butler, however, informs Philip that his fiancee has suffered from periodic blackouts and that she may have been buried alive.
Moody, atmospheric, and effective, HOUSE OF USHER succeeds in making the house a "monster," which a desperate Corman had to make clear to skeptical executive producer Sam Arkoff when he questioned the film's lack of a menacing creature. Corman's savvy use of color, musty cobwebs, and creaking and
groaning sound effects combine to make the house appear to be the cause of all the madness. Price is wonderful as the spooky owner, but the other three players are merely adequate. But still a superlative Corman/AIP effort and a great beginning to a varying but always interesting series of horror
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