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Shock-O-Rama: The Vincent Price Collection 3
Speculating on Future Sets
By Chuck Francisco
June 16, 2014
Speculating on Future Vincent Price Sets
© Scream Factory
Being the obsessed horror and cinema fan that I am, I've spend nearly my entire weekend engaged in the consumption of movies. From joining in on Scream Factory's live stream Night of the Demons event on full moon Friday the 13th, hosting an all day Ray Harryhausen tribute marathon on Saturday (The Mysterious Island, Jason and the Argonauts, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad), to a repertoire screening of American Graffiti as soon as I finish writing this, the dark of the matinee has left little time to dwell on the most awesome home release news so far this year: the success of The Vincent Price Collection has motivated Scream Factory to produce The Vincent Price Collection II.
With that announcement blasting my enthusiasm into orbit midday Friday, I've done nothing but contemplate what a third Price Blu-ray collection might entail. The titles float around in my brain box like a maddening cacophony of psychedelic potentials, and so I must get them penned to paper, if for no other reason then to sooth the merry-go-round of possibilities (it seems that I would make for a poor time traveller). First let's take a look at the films which comprise the first two collections.
The Vincent Price Collection hit the tubes of the internet the week proceeding Halloween last year, and came jam packed with some of the very best Roger Corman films; his Poe adaptations. The four disc Blu-ray set included The Pit & The Pendulum, The Masque of the Red Death, The Haunted Palace, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, and Witchfinder General (aka The Conqueror Worm). That's a heavy hitting line up, but it's bolstered by a bench full of all star special features including two full length audio commentaries with Roger Corman, interviews with Corman and Price's daughter Victoria, commentary tracks from assorted directors and writers, an archival interview with Vincent Price, a retrospective featurette, and tons more. It's an embarrassment of riches, making this hands down the best box set of 2013 (in fact it won three Rondo awards).
The true Babe Ruth of this team though is the incredibly rare introductions by Price himself on five of the six films. Recorded by PBS for a series entitled Vincent Price The Gothic Horrors, this intros and outros grant an amazing sense of wonder and charm to an already superb assortment of films (and prove that time travel is indeed possible, as these bring me right back to childhood in front of a dial knob equipped TV).
The Vincent Price Collection II won't make it into our Blu-ray players until an as yet unannounced date in October, but Scream Factory included the titles in the announcement. They will be The Last Man on Earth, The Comedy of Terrors, Dr. Phibes Rises Again, Tomb of Ligeia, The Raven, Return of the Fly, and The House on Haunted Hill. That's seven titles total, and two of those titles have special home video significance. The House on Haunted Hill and The Last Man on Earth have both seen their rights lapse into the public domain. What this means for horror fans is that the films are readily available online and in crummy quality sets, but no company has taken the time and money to create a definitive high definition release...until now. This is amazing, and a HUGE step forward for Price fans (personally speaking, The House on Haunted Hill is my favorite of his pictures). There's been no word yet on special features, but given Scream Factory's track record, there's every reason to believe they'll be amazing.
So where does that leave us for a (hopeful) Vincent Price Collection III in October of 2015? Here's my take on how to seal this doom. The Tingler, The Mad Magician, House of Wax, Theater of Blood, The Oblong Box, Scream and Scream Again, and (if there's again a 7th title) Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine. The Tingler was accompanied by several perverse William Castle gimmicks, including a point in the film where the screen goes black and Price commands you to "scream! Scream for your life!". The Mad Magician and House of Wax are classics (I'd have included The Fly under that pretense as well, except that Scream Factory jumping right to the sequel hints at possible rights issues). Theatre of Blood is an absolute macabre gas, and Price has a delightfully campy time playing in this film. The Oblong Box teams Price with Christopher Lee for the first time, and is one of the best AIP films to feature him. Scream and Scream Again pairs these two again and adds Peter Cushing into the equation. Finally Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine is not a horror film, but rather a swinging 60s romp with a wacky chase and Price as a madcap scientist.
With such a wealth of films from which to draw upon, there could be any number of Vincent Price collection combinations. What do you think a hypothetical volume three should feature?
Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania, writing Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a co-curator of several repertoire film series at the world famous Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA. You can hear him drop nerd knowledge on weekly podcast You've Got Geek or think him a fool of a Took on Twitter.