Classic Film Review: The Madness Of the Usher Family

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House of Usher is a horror movie that was released in 1960.  Roger Corman directed this film which was written by Richard Matheson.  It is based on a short story by the master of spooks, Edgar Allan Poe.  The small cast is comprised of Vincent Price, Mark Damon, Myrna Fahey, and Harry Ellerbe.

The dashing hero Philip Winthrop, played by Damon, arrives at the immense mansion known as the House of Usher to look in on his fiancee, Madeline and meets her strangely overprotective brother, Roderick Usher played by Vincent Price.  Harry Ellerbe plays the butler named Bristol.

The set design and the costumes are quite stunning.  The film really does look good.  The visual effects were not that bad for the era this was produced, although some of the attempted scares fall a little flat for a 21st century movie audience.

The performances were pretty good, but I am starting to think that Price was a bit more of an over actor than I remembered.  It’s still great to see one of his performances though.

The movie does have a few flaws in performances and character motivation sometimes, but it still is has plenty of compelling elements.  Some of the overwrought outbursts were more amusing than alarming at times, but I still found some enjoyment from the film overall.  It’s been a while since I read the original Poe story, so I am not sure what liberties were taken by Matheson’s adaptation, however he was a very well known writer in horror and fantasy and with good reason.

This film is still pretty impressive in spite of the flaws that caught my eye, and I would still say that it’s worth the time.  It also helps that it’s not a very long film, but there’s a lot to admire in spite of the relatively short running time.

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