Last weekend I took a much-belated return visit to London’s Highgate cemetery to hunt down the locations used in THE ABOMINABLE DR PHIBES. Here’s what I found….
Believing Phibes still alive after the bizarre deaths of four doctors, Inspector Trout (Peter Jeffrey) and Dr Vesalius (Joseph Cotton) head to Highgate’s West Cemetery to check out the Phibes mausoleum.
We first see them entering the famed Egyptian gateway inside the East Cemetery, where John Franklyn’s graveyard attendant has some choice words about worms.
The next shot is taken from St Michael’s Church overlooking the Circle of Lebanon above the catacombs. Here we see Vesalius and Trout heading towards the Egyptian Avenue entrance with the graveyard attendant. Logically, they should be coming the other way – but it does makes for a better shot.
Vesalius and Trout are then led by the graveyard attendant down a path beside the Egyptian Avenue, before heading down into the Avenue itself (although we don’t actually see that).
Following a brief sequence in which the ‘fashionable’ Vulnavia presents Phibes with some flowers, we return to Highgate for a brief shot of the graveyard attendant letting Vesalius and Trout into the Phibes crypt.
Now this was bugger to locate as a prop entrance masks the actual tomb that was used. However, I did notice that the crypt of singer Mabel Batten, which also has poet/author Radclyffe Hall interred there, has the same curved architrave that you can see on the tomb beside the Phibes crypt (check it out in the top left hand corner of the picture above), so it could very well be the one on its immediate left. Unfortunately, I didn’t photograph that particular tomb – so I will just have to return to Highgate very soon.
What a ‘Priceless’ Bank Holiday weekend we’ve just had celebrating Vincent Price’s 106th anniversary with his daughter, Victoria Price, flying in from the US to spend it with us.
First up, on Vincent’s actual birthday (27 May), a small group of fans joined Victoria and myself took a stroll through Portobello Markets (just as Vincent did back in the 1960s when he was filming Masque of the Red Death), finishing with an al fresco Spanish lunch in the sunshine.
Then it was off to Vincent’s favourite London museum, the V&A, which is a treasure trove of art, antiques, fashion, furniture and ephemera. Boy, were we all tired after that…
Sunday found Victoria and I bringing a slice of Vincent Price to Birmingham’s wonderful Electric Cinema (the UK’s oldest working cinema) for a packed-out event where Annabel from Conjurer’s Kitchen presented the audience with a spectacular cake honouring Vincent’s horror classics and topped with a working pendulum (which was won by one of the guests – called Vincent).
We also showed a special clip show that honoured Birmingham’s love of curry, with a video of Vincent demonstrating how to make a curry from scratch. You can watch it here…
On Tuesday evening we held a special evening at the Hitchcock-themed North by Northwest pub in Islington. It’s a fab venue filled with posters and prop replicas from Hitchcock’s films – including a life-size Norma Bates.
It was also the perfect location to honour the Masters of Suspense and Menace, so we kicked off with a screening of The Perfect Crime, an episode of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV show in which Vincent guest starred, while everyone tucked into some delicious pub grub with a menu that had been given a Vincent Price makeover.
The audience were then treated to some never-before-seen clips, courtesy of my private collection, and a wonderful presentation by Victoria about her dad’s legacy, which has led to the two of us creating a new venture: ESC Tours.
If you’d like to know more about ESC Tours and sign up to our mailing list, then head over to the website: CLICK HERE
If you’d like to join us next time, or keep up to date with all the project that we are doing to keep Vincent’s legacy alive and relevant, then do sign up to our Vincent Price Legacy UK mailing list, as well: CLICK HERE
Finally, here’s just some super comments about the events we hosted this past weekend. Thank you everyone for coming and making this so special.
Curator, Vincent Price Legacy UK
‘Thanks so much for the evening Liz Hopkins. Will stay with me. Thank you Peter Fuller for squeezing us in, a huge success! What an inspirational talk by Vincent Price’s daughter Victoria Price. What a human being Vincent was and indeed his daughter is.’ Matthew Hopkins
‘It was brilliant – thank you for organising another great event!!!!‘ Selene Paxton-Brooks
‘Such a moving and inspirational talk from Victoria Price.‘ Julia Morgan
‘A fantastic evening with lots of laughter!’ 😁 Merlyn Roberts
‘Loved every moment of it’Jason D. Brawn
‘A marvellous affair’ Pete McDonnell
‘Thanks Peter, was wonderful! The past couple of days have been pretty special’🙂 Stuart Carroll
Today, 27 May 2017, marks the 106th birthday of Vincent Price. So, let’s all raise a toast to the actor, art lover, Anglophile and all-round legend…
Here in the UK, The Vincent Price Legacy UK will be celebrating throughout the Bank Holiday weekend with two very special events happening – one in Birmingham on Sunday and another in London on Tuesday. The London event is sold out, but there is a handful of tickets left for Birmingham. GET THEM HERE
But today, we shall be following in Vincent’s footsteps and doing something that he would have loved… a trip to Portobello Road Market, the V&A and the British Museum.
Have a great weekend everyone.
Here’s some super pics of Vincent at Portobello Road with Jane Asher, his co-star in 1964’s Masque of the Red Death.
On Tuesday 30 May, Victoria Price will host a very special evening in London at the Hitchcock-themed North By Northwest pub in Islington, in celebration of Vincent Price’s 106th birthday anniversary (Vincent was born on 27 May), and you’re all invited.
This event coincides with the UK reprint release of Vincent and Mary’s Come Into the Kitchen Cook Book, so we are offering all attendees the chance to purchase a signed copy of the book when you get your ticket to attend.
In honour of the venue, we shall be screening Vincent’s Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode, The Perfect Crime, plus some exclusive never-before-seen treats.
Some great pub grub will be available to purchase on the night. Plus, everyone who attends will be entered into a free raffle to win some fantastic prizes.
As part of the BFI Southbank’s Girls Like Us: British Women and WWII Cinema season in April, the 1946 melodrama Piccadilly Incident, starring Anna Neagle and Michael Wilding, gets a NFT2 screening on Wednesday 19 April (6.15pm) and Sunday 20 April (5.40pm). Co-starring is Coral Browne, the third wife of Vincent Price.
But she’s not the only spouse of the beloved actor to be gracing the BFI, for Vincent’s first wife, Edith Barrett co-stars in the celebrated Val Lewton 1943 horror, I Walked With A Zombie, which screens on Sunday 2 April (8.40pm), as part of their Cult series.
In Piccadilly Incident, Wren Diana Fraser (Anna Neagle) returns to England after three years stranded on a desert island to find that Alan Pearson (Michael Wildling), the man whom she married in a London air-raid, had thought her dead and has remarried a woman called Virginia (Coral Browne). This hugely popular weepie teamed Neagle and Wilding for the first time, establishing them as top box-office stars in five more films, beginning with The Courtneys of Curzon Street and ending with The Lady with the Lamp in 1951. It also scored Neagle a Best Actress of the year nod by the readers of Picturegoer magazine. BOOK TICKETS HERE
In producer Val Lewton and director Jacques Torneur’s famous voodoo chiller I Walk With a Zombie, Canadian nurse Betsy Connell (Frances Dee) arrives in the West Indies and soon gets involved in menacing goings on in the moonlight with Tom Conway’s zombie wife Jessica (Christine Gordon). Much better than its title would indicate, this beautifully made drama is a sort of Haitian voodoo offshoot of Jane Eyre. A little on the slow side, it nonetheless remained Tourneur’s favourite film, mainly because of its poetic qualities. It’s very moody, with a commendably firm central performance by Dee, and great support from Edith Barrett as the mysterious Mrs Rand, who harbours a dark secret.
BOOK TICKETS HERE: 29 March
BOOK TICKETS HERE: (2 April)
‘You’ll need someone to hang onto when you come face to face with the blood-chilling terrors in the tower!’
In this tale of murder, ghosts and guilt directed by Roger Corman for Admiral Pictures, 1960s cinemagoers were dared to spend 83-minutes (actually 79-minutes) in the Tower of London – a monument to the corruption of the soul – according to the film’s narrator (Paul Frees).
It is the year 1483 and the body count begins following the death of Edward IV as Vincent Price’s Richard murders his way to the throne of England, killing his brother Clarence, his political rivals, his nephews and even his beloved wife Anne.
Tortured by guilt, the ghosts of his victims return to haunt the newly crowned monarch, and ultimately lead him to his death on a muddy field at the Battle of Boswell from the sharp end of a double-edged battle-axe.
Produced by Roger Corman’s brother, Gene, Tower of London was an attempt by Admiral Pictures to cash in on the success of American International Pictures successful Poe pictures, but was ultimately let down by its cut-price production values. But the one thing it has got going for it is Vincent Price.
Being the go-to guy for gothic horror in the early 1960s, only Vincent could take on this twisted sibling to the macabre Poe-universe, which made him the King of Horror following his genuinely menacing turns in The Fall of the House of Usher and Pit and the Pendulum, and his multiple roles in Tales of Terror.
Plagued by Hamlet’s ghosts and cursed to die like Macbeth, Vincent Price’s take on Richard III – based on ‘a screenplay by Leo Gordon from stories by Poe and Shakespeare’(*) – is like no other – and nor should it be. It’s a virtuoso one-man show in which he goes from quietly ominous to all out ham hysterics – the kind of which would enshrine Vincent’s unique style forever more.
While its not his best work – Price himself admitted he could have done more with the character– his trademark arched eyebrows, wild-eyes and lip curling leers are certainly worth the price of admission, while the occasional flashes of subtlety serve to remind us that Vincent was also capable of truly great performances when reigned in. This would be most evident in 1968’s Witchfinder General, but also in Roger Corman’s HP Lovecraft horror The Haunted Palace.
Vincent’s Richard is not purely evil, unlike his satanic Prince Prospero in Masque of the Red Death. Instead, he presents Richard as a man whose guilty conscience drives him to madness. Before the histrionics begin, Vincent does inspire genuine sympathy for his character in a couple of genuinely poignant scenes: one in which the ghosts of the little princes try to lure him into committing suicide, and when Richard’s mother, the Queen, shows her hatred for her son’s physical deformities (a hump and a limp hand).
Of course, when Vincent turns on the ham, you can’t help but be reminded of his horror film opus, Theatre of Blood, in which he played the vengeful Shakespearean actor Edward Lionheart. Venting in the same ‘voice beautiful’ that Lionheart was accused of by his critics in the black comedy horror, Vincent becomes Lionheart personified. It’s quite a hoot.
Arrow’s High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of Tower of London has been transferred from original film elements by MGM, and includes the original 1.0 mono audio (uncompressed on the Blu-ray) and optional English subtitles. This is a super transfer and a must-have in your Vincent Price library, although the cover art really isn’t to my taste. There’s also a collector’s booklet with an article by John Upton (but this was not included with my screener).
Included in the disc are two archive interviews with Roger and Gene Corman, who spill the beans on the problems behind making the picture, as well as a splendid slideshow featuring behind-the-scenes photos (that I have never seen before) from the collection of Brett Cameron, which plays alongside Michael Anderson’s rousing theme tune.
The other bonus is an audio commentary from Hollywood historian David Del Valle in which he describes Vincent’s Richard as ‘a Todd Slaughter performance’, which he ‘dials up to 12’ in the ‘Plantagenet fun house’ haunting scene, and gives a ‘150-watt leer’ in the battle scene. It’s all great fun to listen to. Del Valle also sets the record straight about Vincent’s acting prowess: that for all the camp barnstorming, he was indeed an actor of wide range, which culminated in his one-man show Diversions & Delights. Nice one, David.
The film’s supporting actors also get the Del Valle once over, including Richard Hale, who appeared in The Incredible Docktor Markesan episode of TV’s Thriller and the chap playing the Duke of Clarence (Charles Macaulay), was Dracula in Blacula.
Tara Gordon, the daughter of the film’s screenwriter Leo Gordon, also features in the commentary. Her father’s amazingly varied career could have made a feature-length commentary by itself, and though I would have like to know more, we do get to hear from her about her dad’s association with Roger Corman and his co-writer Amos Powell, who shot himself, while her story about her dad’s fart machine is hilarious.
(*) Roger Corman interview (Arrow Blu-ray, bonus feature)
The Theatre Guild and Joel Schenker
Vincent Price and Patricia Routledge
In a new musical
DARLING OF THE DAY Based on Arnold Bennett’s Buried Alive and his play The Great Adventure.
Also starring Brenda Forbes, Peter Woodthorpe and Teddy Green.
Composed by Jule Styne
Lyrics by EY Harburg
‘…thoroughly delightful. It has charm, tunefulness, humour, imagination, a good book, impeccable taste and a handsome production. Mr Price is convincing and charming as the artist in hiding… a superior musical comedy!’ (Richard Watts, The New York Post)
Darling of the Day is set in the England of 1905 – Edwardian and elegant – and it’s the story of a great and painfuly shy painter named Priam Farll (Vincent Price) who is summoned back to England after 20 years as a virtual recluse in the South Seas, to be knighted by his King.
After the death of his butler, Henry Leek, Farll assumes his identity, falls for a young widow called Alice Challice (Patricia Routledge) and they marry and settled in (what was then) lower middle-class Putney.
Life becomes complicated for Priam and Alice when his identity is unveiled and he ends up in court. However, when Farll warns that if there’s a ‘Butler in the Abbey’ the social structure of Britain will be shaken, the judge hastily rules that Leek must remain Leek…
Following Darling of the Day‘s pre-Broadway run, the York Theatre Company show had three previews before its premiere performance at the George Abbott Theatre (152 W. 54th St., New York, NY) on 27 January 1968. Following mixed reviews, the show folded after 31 performances, but it did earn Routledge the 1968 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
As the sun set on Camp Vincent 2016 and a supermoon rose over the Malibu coast on Sunday (13 November), I feel so blessed to have spent the past 10 days celebrating the life and legacy of Vincent Price with a wonderful group of friends – and it ended so beautifully.
But first, on a surprisingly hot Saturday morning, Victoria Price escorted us, plus a handful of new recruits, on a tour of her dad’s old haunts and former homes.
First up was Hollywood Forever Cemetery where both Vincent and Coral Browne (Mrs Price No3), had their funeral services, and where Coral’s were scattered amongst the white rose bushes by the entrance gates.
After catching up with old friends like Cecil B De Mille and Peter Lorre (whose funeral Vincent gave the eulogy), we headed out to Pinks, an LA institution for hotdogs (Vincent’s fast food of choice) and Koontz Hardware in West Hollywood (where he hung out daily).
Then it was up to the Hills where we drove past Vincent’s former homes as Victoria gave us an insight of what it was like growing up in the glare of the Hollywood sign, before decamping at the legendary Beverly Hills Hotel for cocktails and cake.
In the evening, we were Carson bound to the Phantom Carriage Brewery, where a special dinner was held to celebrate the launch of the reprint of Vincent and Mary Price’s Come Into The Kitchen cookbook.
This took the form of a four-course meal paired with the brewery’s craft beers, accompanied by screenings of The Tingler and Comedy of Terrors, which were introduced by Victoria and myself, and some horror movie-inspired music. It was a super evening, where we all made new friends with some LA-based Vincent Price fans.
And so we come to Sunday. Following lunch at Paradise Cove in Malibu – the setting for hundred of films and TV shows, including the Beach Party films – and where the Price family enjoyed coming to to eat and fish, we headed out to Nicholas Canyon Beach.
It was here where Vincent Price once owned several acres and had a beach house where his children, Barrett and Victoria, spent many a summer before the land was repossessed under the Reagan regime.
At the bottom of some ruined stairs (the only reminder of where the house once stood) our group created an altar of flowers, shells, rocks, kelp, and a drawing done by the ever talented Gregg Buxbaum of a baby seal wearing Vincent’s favourite straw hat.
As incense and a sage smudge stick – bought during our Southwest travels were set alight – were set alight, we held hands and vowed to go out into the world with love and hope. Then, just as we finished, a flock of pelicans soared above us – very slowly – in a V formation. Now, was that a sign or what?
This year’s tour was an opportunity for fans to ‘Explore. Savor. Celebrate‘ life just like Vincent – something both Victoria Price and myself plan to continue for the foreseeable future, beginning with organising Camp Vincent 2017, which will take place in Madrid, Barcelona and Sitges in Spain in September, as well as some pop-up events in the UK and the US.
We are also working on some cool online swag. So, if you’re interested in hearing and seeing any of Victoria’s presentation, Vincent Price: Master of Menace, Lover of Life — then you can sign up right here to receive more information. There are lots of personal family photos and behind-the-scenes pictures and stories. But mostly, this gives you a glimpse of the glorious life philosophy of Vincent Price. We will also have a live virtual Q&A, which we plan to roll out in the new year.
The Vincent Price Legacy UK is proud to announce the release of the first officially licensed Vincent Price Ale in the UK which will be launched during Horror Channel FrightFest in London over the August Bank Holiday (25-29 Aug).
When he wasn’t hosting ghoulish parties in haunted houses, preserving maidens in wax, or filling his Theatre of Blood with the corpses of his critics, legendary horror film actor Vincent Price (1911-1993) liked nothing better than to sit back and imbibe a wicked brew – the darker the better, of course. Although hailing from the American mid-west, Vincent was a lifelong Anglophile, and that classic British combination of pie and ale were firm favourites of the Missouri-born actor, art expert, raconteur and epicurean.
In honour of the Master of Menace, the Vincent Price Legacy UK and Kentish ale brewers Hopdaemon have conjured up the first Vincent Price Ale (VPA), which we’ve called Black Cat – a name that’s a fitting tribute to Vincent’s frightful encounters with meddlesome moggies and possessed pussies in the cult classics Tales of Terror (1962) and Tomb of Ligeia (1965).
This specially-crafted VPA (which has a 4.6% alc vol) maybe wrapped in a dark cloak, but it tastes like a crisp Indian Pale Ale, which will certainly surprise your taste buds. Currently available only in 330ml bottles with a fantastic label designed by legendary British poster artist Graham Humphreys, Black Cat gets its launch at this year’s Horror Channel FrightFest where it has been especially invited to be one of the sponsors.