The Dr. Phibes Companion | Reviewing Justin Humphreys’ Romantic History of the Classic Vincent Price Horror Film Series

Back in October 2012, Little Shoppe of Horrors editor Richard Klemensen dedicated Issue 29 to tell the ‘definitive history’ of director Robert Fuest’s cult classic The Abominable Dr Phibes, starring Vincent Price in one of his most iconic movie roles. It was a revelation, featuring Phibesologist Justin Humphreys’ phan-tastic feature, The Kind of Fiend Who Wins, which was packed with detailed information about the making of the film, from its story genesis to its hugely successful cinema release.

This beautifully-designed issue also included Humphreys’ essay on the film’s art director Brian Eatwell, alongside David Taylor and Sam Irvin’s well-researched feature The Unphilmed Phibes, which exhumed all the lost Phibes movies, and Bruce Hallenbeck’s informative article on the making of the sequel, Dr Phibes Rises Again, and contributions from cult film writers Denis Meikle, David Del Valle, Derek Botello, and many more. Plus, it had special introductions from Tim Burton and Frank Darabont.

I so love this issue and have returned to it countless times – especially for the many behind-the-scenes photos and artwork, as well as the interesting sidebar features that included the hunt for Phibes’ Rolls Royce, a review of the original LP Soundtrack, as well as tributes to the two actresses who played Vulnavia, Virginia North and Valli Kemp.

Fast-forward to 2018 and Humphreys, who works as a film historian at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, has revived his original essay for this new paperback book from Bear Manor Media. Now the big question for anyone who already has the LSoH celebration issue is – ‘Is it worth getting?’

On the plus side, and it’s a big plus, you get expanded versions of Humphreys’ The Kind of Fiend Who Wins and the Taylor/Irvin contribution, The Unphilmed Phibes, both of which include extra bits added from interviews with screenwriters William Goldstein and James Whiton, sound designer Peter Lennard, actress Fiona Lewis, and many others.

There’s a Foreward from Dr. Phibes’ creator, William Goldstein, and also new conversations with organist Nicholas Kynaston (who played the War March of the Priests title track), Dr Phibes Rises Again composer John Gale, and screenwriter Lem Dobbs. Plus, longer versions of Humphreys’ previously published articles on Brian Eatwell and his wonderful tribute to Bob Fuest, which originally appeared in Video Watchdog, Issue 168.

Humphreys has also written an informative essay on the making of Dr Phibes Rises Again, using interviews from a variety of sources, which can be found in the extensive bibliography in the front of the book. Plus, there’s two short pieces by Phibes enthusiast Mark Ferelli, including one about his amazing magic lantern show which I was lucky to have seen at London’s Horse Hospital back in 2005.

On the negative side, the book lacks the stunning design of LSoH, with a number of blank pages that could have easily been filled with more photos or some of the previously published sidebar features, as well as a couple of typo errors. A big selling point for me was the opportunity to see never-before-seen production artwork by Fuest from his personal shooting script as well as previously unpublished behind-the-scenes photographs. Well, there are only three scans of the shooting script (I would have like to have seen more), but there are some rare images not published before on offer, including James Whiton’s photos from the world premiere.

But aside from those couple of niggles what shines through is Humphreys’ incredible passion for the Phibes films and his admiration for Bob Fuest, whom he befriended while conducting his research. It’s what makes this book a phan-tastic companion to the LSoH celebration issue. Oh, and its thanks to reading this book that I have now tracked down a copy of the Great Organ Works LP, which not only contains Nicolas Kynaston’s rendition of War March of the Priests, but also his Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, which opened Amicus’ 1972 anthology Tales from the Crypt. Win win! I say!

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Victoria Price to attend Birmingham’s Cine Excess XII Cult Film Conference and Festival

Inspirational speaker and author Victoria Price will be a special guest at Birmingham’s Cine Excess cult film event that runs 8th – 10th November, which will honour her father’s work in film as well as his culinary skills.

A short season of Vincent’s films will be screened alongside a cookery demonstration based on some of the favourite recipes from his legendary book ‘A Treasury of Great Recipes’.

Victoria is also set to be presented with the Cine Excess Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of her father on Friday 9th November.

Xavier Mendik , founder and organiser of Cine Excess says, “We are really excited mount this special celebration of Vincent Price’s career as part of our 12th annual event. Having previously hosted director Roger Corman who collaborated with Vincent Price on so many classic horror movies from the 1960s, it seemed entirely appropriate to dedicate this year’s event to such an iconic actor on the 50th anniversary of his chilling performance in Witchfinder General.”

Alongside Victoria, this year’s festival also hosts a visit by the British horror director Pete Walker, who worked with the Vincent on House of the Long Shadows (1983). Pete Walker will be presented with this year’s second Cine Excess Lifetime Achievement Award for his lifelong career in film, including Die Screaming Marianne (1971), Frightmare (1974) and the notorious House of Whipcord (1974). Pete Walker is also scheduled to appear at the event on Friday 9th November.

The theme of this year’s Cine Excess XII is ‘I Know What You Starred in Last Summer: Global Perspectives on Cult Performance’, with international academics presenting a wide range of related discussions alongside a specially curated selection of public film screenings and talks.

A full list of screening and events will be announced soon.

For more information on: www.Cine-Excess.co.uk

About Victoria Price
Victoria Price brings her unique story to the national and international stage as an author, inspirational speaker, blogger, designer, artist & art consultant, and interspiritual & interfaith minister.

Following in her father’s footsteps, Victoria has become a popular speaker on a wide range of inspirational topics, as well as the life of her famous father, Vincent Price.
Victoria’s popular blog, Daily Practice of Joy, chronicles the journey back to joy which began in 2011 – – the year in which the world celebrated the 100th birthday of her father, Vincent Price, with Vincentennial celebrations around the globe.

In 2016, after living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for a quarter century, Victoria embarked on an ongoing journey of intentional homelessness, chronicled in her new inspirational memoir, The Way of Being Lost: A Road Trip to My Truest Self (Ixia Press/Dover 2018). A new edition of her critically-acclaimed biography of her father, Vincent Price: A Daughter’s Biography, will be released in November by Dover Press (and will be available to purchase at Cine Excess). Victoria is currently at work on her new book, Here Be Monsters: Inviting the Faith, Fear and Freedom of “I Don’t Know”.

About Cine-Excess
Cine-Excess is an annual international film festival and conference, which is attracts global filmmakers, scholars, distributors and exhibitors to an event which features filmmaker discussions, a themed three day conference and theatrical premieres/exclusive screenings. Cine-Excess is open to the public (aged 18 and over), who can book can either book screening delegate passes for individual films, or full delegate passes for the conference, lunches and all Cine-Excess screenings.

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Tomb of Ligeia at Castle Acre | Mapping the Norfolk film location

Tomb of Ligeia posterDid you know that Castle Acre Priory in Norfolk was used as the primary location for 1964’s Tomb of Ligeia, Roger Corman’s last hurrah in American International Pictures’ Poe adaptations starring Vincent Price?

Founded in 1089 by Earl Warenne,  Castle Acre Priory served as a Cluniac monastery inhabited by some 30 monks until it was dissolved in 1537 under Henry VIII, when it was turned over to Sir Edward Coke, whose descendant, the Earl of Leicester, now owns the ruins (under the administration of English Heritage).

Tomb of Ligiea at Castle Acre
Castle Acre Priory, as it appeared in Tomb of Ligeia and as it looks today

Back in 1964, however, it famously stood in for the home Vincent Price’s tortured hero Verden Fell who, against his better judgement, takes a new wife – the headstrong Lady Rowena Trevanion (Elizabeth Shepherd), but is soon haunted by the spirit of his late first wife, the ungodly Lady Ligeia.

Roger Corman
Director Roger Corman sets up a shot at Castle Acre

Roger Corman and cinematographer Arthur Grant (who was also a regular Director of Photography for Hammer Films) make great use of the Priory ruins, which haven’t altered a bit over the past 50 years.

To point you in the right direction, I have used a map which is available at the ticket office attached to the Priory, and used the same numbering.

Tomb of Ligiea at Castle Acre

THE PRIORY
There are a few long shots of the Priory (taken from No3 in the map) used throughout the film, with the last one being a matt painting.

Tomb of Ligiea at Castle Acre

LIGEIA’S FUNERAL
Ligeia’s coffin is carried through (10), where the monks infimary chapel and ward originally stood, to where her tombstone stands (in an area that was the later infirmary). This is also where Rowena falls from her horse and where Verden and Christopher (John Westbrook) share some scenes.

Tomb of Ligiea at Castle AcreTomb of Ligiea at Castle AcreTomb of Ligiea at Castle AcreTomb of Ligiea at Castle Acre

Tomb of Ligiea at Castle Acre
Fellow film location hunter Martin Skipper does his best Vincent Price impression

ROWENA’S ARRIVAL
Following the fox hunt, Rowena rides her horse from (11), the old latrine block, through (9), the former day room and dormitory, and into (10), the infimary, towards Ligeia’s tombstone. Christopher takes the same route following Rowena’s frightful first encounter with Verden.

Tomb of Ligiea at Castle AcreVERDEN TO THE RESCUE
Rowena is carried by Verden through (6), where the Presbytery once stood, and (5), the Nave, and they stop at the main doorway in the west front (when Rowena takes off Verden glasses) befor heading into (17), the West Range and Prior’s lodging house. This area was used in a scene in which Rowena pays Verden a visit and a night-time shot when the couple return from their honeymoon.

Tomb of Ligiea at Castle AcreTOMBSTONE DEFACING
Verden leads Christopher through (5), the main doorway, to show him Ligeia’s defaced grave at (10), the later infirmary, where he also voices his concerns that Ligeia’s spirit has returned.

Tomb of Ligiea at Castle AcreTomb of Ligiea at Castle AcreTomb of Ligiea at Castle AcreTO THE BELL TOWER
Verden and Christopher run through an arch in (9), former the Chapter House, on hearing the tolling of the bells (after Rowena follows the black cat into the belfry).

Tomb of Ligiea at Castle AcreAFTERNOON TEA
In a scene that always reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, Rowena and Christopher take tea outdoors in (7), originally the Cloister. In the distance, you’ll see a power line and a plyon, which are still in tact today.

Tomb of Ligiea at Castle Acre
The pylon you see in the film remains in place today, although its obscured by foliage

Tomb of Ligiea at Castle AcreIf you are ever in Norfolk, I do recommend a visit to Castle Acre. Of course, it wasn’t the only film location used in this classic Gothic horror – the others were Stonehenge, Polesden Lacey in Dorking, Surrey and St John’s Rectory in Wotton – and I’m looking forward to checking them out soon.

If you have any then and now pics (especially ones I may have missed) and you’d like to share them, then do get in touch. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this lovely signed pic of Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Shepherd

 

 

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2018 Theatre of Blood London Locations Walking Tour

This year’s Theatre of Blood Locations Walking Tour, which took place on Saturday 28 July, was a resounding success (again), and I thank everyone for coming and enjoying the very long trek around London (which was greatly helped by some perfect summer weather).

Kensal Green Cemetery
Group shot by Andy Ellis
Kensal Green Cemetery
Photo by Mike Grant

This year, we started off at Kensal Green Cemetery, one of London’s Magnificient Seven –  where I conducted a tour around the Anglican chapel. It was here that the entire cast of Theatre of Blood assembled for the funeral of the first critic to meet their demise, George Maxwell (Michael Hordern), while Dennis Price’s Hector Snipe turned up as as corpse tied to the back of a horse. It is also the location of Lionheart’s memorial, and where Vincent Price’s Edward Lionheart disguises himself as gravedigger.

Kensal Green Cemetery
Photo by MIke Grant

Loudon RoadNext up was the site of the fencing school where Lionheart reveals himself to his nemesis, Peregrine Devlin (Ian Hendry), located in St John’s Wood, just a short stroll from Abbey Road Studios; then we had lunch on the banks of the river Thames in Hammersmith, where George Maxwell’s apartment lies in the shadow of the iconic Hammersmith Bridge.

Digby Mansions Hammersmith

Photo by Martin Skipper

Following lunch, we all took a bus ride to Dock Road in Brentford, where the site of Lionheart’s resurrection can still be viewed today above a working shipyard. Unfortunately, a couple of boats moored on the spot obscured the location  – but during my reccie a couple of weeks beforehand, I was lucky to photograph the area. However, a few of us did paid homage to the scene by downing some ‘Meths’.

Dock Road Brentford
You can see the bridge that our group is standing on can be glimpse in the top right hand corner of the film screen grab.
Dock Road Brentford
photo by Martin Skipper

Meths drinkersAfter a well-earned pint at a pub nearby (whose patrons were rather suprised by 30 people – many in our special Tour tees – descending on the place), we all headed to Putney – another key location as three key scenes where all shot in the area.

First up were the sites of the abandoned warehouse where Maxwell is butchered in a gory reenactment of the death of Julius Caesar and the Putney Hippodrome (which stood in for Lionheart’s lair, the Burbage Theatre). While both these buildings were demolished and replaced with a housing estate in 1975, our group had a lot of fun picking out the correct angles from some of the shots in the film.

Putney Hippodrome
inset photos by Mike Grant and Stuart Carroll
Weimar St Warehouse
This shot was taken last year, as I’d forgotten to get a shot this time round. But even after all these years, the black metal gate is still standing
Walker Place Shylock
Here’s me attempting to recreate Vincent’s Shylock pose on the same spot

And, a couple of streets away, we visited the exterior of the house that stood in for the home of Meredith Merridew (Robert Morley), where he is forced to eat his pet poodles baked in a pie, and where a comical police chase was staged.

Charlwood Road
Group shot by Andy Ellis

Next up, it was short bus ride to Wandsworth Town to visit The Causeway – the site of Devlin’s abduction and where Eric Sykes’ Sergeant Dogge has a deadly date with a speeding train.

The Causeway, Wandsworth
Group shot by Mike Grant

Our final destination was Vauxhall, where we took a close-up view of Devlin’s riverside apartment, Peninsula Heights (now the home of author and former politician Jeffrey Archer), were Lionheart takes his swan dive into the Thames. After one last group photo, we all said our goodbyes before some of us went for a well-earned dinner…

Peninsula HeightsVisiting all of the locations used in the film would really take two days, so each year we try to mix them up a bit, so it’s always an adventure and a great way to see parts of London even Londoners rarely visit. If you’d like to join us next year, then do sign up to the Vincent Price Legacy UK newsletter (click here to sign up) and join the Theatre of Blood Facebook Group (click here join).

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Witchfinder Weekender | Exploring the Suffolk film locations

On the weekend of the 21 and 22 of April, I hosted a trip to Suffolk in East Anglia for two days of exploring the original film locations used in the 1968 British cinema classic Witchfinder General, starring Vincent Price as  the eponymous Matthew Hopkins.

Blessed with the best weather of the year, our 15-seater van which we dubbed the Mystery Machine ambled through Lavenham, Kersey, Bury St Edmunds, Thetford, Orford, Dunwich and Manningtree, with a few other people joining us on their own steam over two days.

My heartfelt thanks goes out to Selene for taking the reigns of the Mystery Machine and to Graham Humphreys for the fantastic poster that he produced, and got signed by the film’s second big star, Ian Ogilvy, which attendees received on Sunday afternoon over some well-earned pints in Manningtree, at the very location where the real Matthew Hopkins conducted some of his evil deeds.

Witchfinder General_Graham Humphreys_Poster

Here’s a snapshot of the film locations that we covered.

Witchfinder General_Kersey

KERSEY
This quaint little village was the setting for the film’s opening sequence in which a woman is led through a side street to a field where she is lynched, while Vincent’s Matthew Hopkins looks on from a distance.

Over the years, trees have grown to obscure St Mary’s church which appears the opening title credits. The pathway where the villages drag the woman lies next to the former home of thriller writer Hammond Innes.

Witchfinder General_Kersey

Witchfinder General_Kersey

Witchfinder General_Kersey

RUSHFORD
The former Rushford College and St John’s Church in this quiet backwater proved the ideal location to double as John Lowes’ Brandeston church.

The scenes shot at the College (now a private residence… which we inadvertently trespassed) included Hopkins and his assistant John Stearne (Robert Russell) setting Lowes to running and pricking, and Sara (Hilary Dwyer) trying to secure her uncle’s freedom by giving herself to Hopkins; while the church was used for a scene in which Richard (Ogilvy) swears his oath of revenge over Sara’s rape at the hands of Stearne.

Witchfinder General_Rushford

Witchfinder General_RushfordWitchfinder General_Rushford

Witchfinder General_Rushford

Witchfinder General_RushfordWitchfinder General_Rushford

LONG MELFORD
The 15th-century Kentwell Hall doubled as the magistrate’s house where John Lowes’ trial by water and hanging took place. Visiting the stately manor also gave us an opportunity to recreate  recreate the infamous publicity shot of Vincent and director Michael Reeves, in which their difficult relations during the shoot is quite visible in their body language.

Witchfinder General_Kentwell Hall
This picture is courtesy of Stuart Carroll

Witchfinder General_Kentwell HallWitchfinder General_Kentwell HallWitchfinder General_Kentwell Hall

Witchfinder General_Kentwell Hall

IXWORTH
While many of the riding sequences were filmed on military ground which has restricted access today, one scene involved Richard and his platoon meeting with Oliver Cromwell (Patrick Wymark). This took place at Ixworth Mill, which today is a self-catering B&B. It is also situated not to far from Great Livermere, the childhood home of the ghost writer MR James.

Witchfinder General_IxworthWitchfinder General_Ixworth

LAVENHAM
The medieval town was used for a number of key sequences in the film, including when Hopkins oversees the burning of Elizabeth (Maggie Kimberly) in the town square where Sara lodges, and where Hopkins resides in a local pub. Another key scene takes place in a nearby Water Street, where Stearne informs Hopkins of Richard’s desire for revenge.

Guildhall, Market Place, Lavenham
Witchfinder General_LavenhamWitchfinder General_LavenhamWitchfinder General_LavenhamWitchfinder General_LavenhamWitchfinder General_LavenhamWitchfinder General_LavenhamWitchfinder General_Lavenham Little Hall, Lavenham
This building doubled as the rooming houses for both Sara and Hopkins. We were very excited to find that little has changed in the room used for Hopkins’ bedroom, but we also discovered that while the outside of the building was used for Sara looking out a window, the interior was not. This was, in fact, a set constructed in an aircraft hangar in Thetford.

Witchfinder General_Little_HallWitcfinder General_Little HallWitcfinder General_Little Hall

Water Street, Lavenham
This street, around the corner from the Guildhall, is where Stearne runs to warn Hopkins and where Hopkins spies Sara across the road.

Witchfinder General_Water Street_LavenhamWitchfinder General_Water Street_Lavenham

Witchfinder General_Water Street_Lavenham
This photo is courtesy of Stuart Carroll

ORFORD CASTLE
The cellar of this 11th-century keep was used for the bloody climax in which Hopkins is shot by Nicky Henson’s Trooper and then hacked to death by a vengeful Richard. English Heritage are proud of its film legacy and even include it on their audio tour, with some Kensington gore thrown in for good measure.

Witchfinder General_Orford_Castle Witchfinder General_Orford_Castle Witchfinder General_Orford_Castle Witchfinder General_Orford_Castle Witchfinder General_Orford_Castle

DUNWICH
It was quite a trek (over an hour) to drive to the coast where the scenes of Richard and his platoon meeting a fisherman where shot. But on our arrival, we discovered we were in the wrong place. One of our group has now found the correct location, the Seven Sisters cliffs on the Sussex coast. So another outing is in the offing.

WIitchfinder General_Dunwich

BURY ST EDMUNDS
The Angel hotel in Bury St Edmunds is where the cast and crew stayed while filming. Vincent stayed in room 215, the Charles Dickens suite, which still contains the bed that the writer slept in. The bar is where he got drunk with Nicky Henson and the rest of the cast, and the kitchen is where he rustled up pasta for the crew.

The Angel_Bury St Edmunds

MANNINGTREE
The real Matthew Hopkins operated many of his dark deeds in Manningtree. So, on our return to London, we stopped off at The Red Lion, where, in 1644, eight local women were suspected of witchcraft and into the prison, which used to sit on the land to the right of the pub.

witchfinder_general-manningtree

Thanks for reading… If you fancy joining us for another tour in 2019… then please do sign up to the Vincent Price Legacy UK newsletter and join the Facebook page.

For more pictures about the Witchfinder Weekender, check out the dedicated Facebook Group page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/112107102984052/

 

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Cooking with Columbo | Lovely But Lethal and Vera Miles’ Mexican Casserole

Cooking with ColumboWhen Jenny Hammerton at Silver Screen Suppers was preparing her latest cuinary adventures, Cooking with Columbo: Suppers With the Shambling Sleuth, she invited friends and fellow Columbo fans to test cook the recipes. Of course, I couldn’t resist – especially as one the episodes, Lovely But Lethal, featured Vincent Price alongside Vera Miles as the guest villain of the week.

Courtesy of Jenny, here’s the page for you check out, including the recipe, Vera Miles’ Mexican Casserole, and my verdict. You can purchase Cooking With Columbo from Amazon.

LOVELY BUT LETHAL – 1973
Anyone who wears an entirely white outfit topped by a pristine white turban is fine by me. The wardrobe department for this episode pulled out all the stops, and Vera Miles looks absolutely sensational in every single outfit. Vera plays Viveca Scott, Queen of Cosmetics, who is ruthless in her quest for the ultimate anti-wrinkle cream. Her business rival is played, with great panache, by screen legend Vincent Price, and the two of them take great relish in throwing insults at each other.

It’s an early morning murder-callout for Columbo, but luckily he has a hard-boiled egg in the pocket of his raincoat to snack on for breakfast. In the kitchen of the murder victim, he searches in vain for salt to sprinkle on his egg. Usually, he says, he carries a shaker in his pocket, but alas, not so on this occasion. Luckily for Columbo, while he is on his condiment hunt, he spots a clue he might otherwise have missed…

Beauty Mark is the name of Viveca’s cosmetics business. For British readers, a beauty mark is what Americans call a beauty spot. This might seem irrelevant, but nothing is lost on Columbo of course, and there is a clue bound up with Viveca’s beauty spot. Also worth pointing out to those not in North America, and too young to remember the popular 1960s song, poison ivy is a plant that causes a violent reaction when touched. Remember this refrain: “Poison ivy, Lord’ll make you itch!”

Viveca gets annoyed with the Lieutenant when he questions her about a romantic relationship she once had with the murder victim. She screeches, “I like young men Lieutenant, lots of them, and if that shocks your masculine double-standard, I’m sorry.” She thinks he belongs “in a museum,” but Columbo is not a judgmental man when it comes to the love-lives of his suspects. We know this from many other episodes.

When Columbo comes to search for evidence at Viveca’s health farm, he is suffering from poison ivy. She condescendingly asks him, “Poor thing, still worried about your itch?” But Viveca should be worried about hers. It’s the itch that will send her to the Clink.

In the newspaper article from which this recipe of Vera’s is taken, published in 1974, she is quoted as saying that she felt that there weren’t many good acting roles for women. “It’s a man’s world, and so many of the writers are men who write for men.” She must have been happy with this role in 1973 though, striding around her health farm in a bright, white jumpsuit, Viveca is the epitome of someone who “owns it.” Vera is a fabulous actress and one of my very favorite Columbo adversaries.

Viveca’s favorite tipple is apparently a tequila cocktail with organic cactus juice, so if you can get your hands on such a juice, that would be a fun thing to serve. It would fit with Vera’s Mexican inspired dish too. A super-cheesy treat with chilies.

Vera Miles' Mexican CasseroleVera Miles’ Mexican Casserole
1 lb / 450g of Jack/Gouda cheese
1 lb / 450g of Cheddar cheese
6 eggs, separated
Salt
1½ tablespoons flour
Two small cans of green chili peppers
One fresh tomato, sliced
Dash of oregano
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F / 190 degrees C / gas mark 5.

Grate the two kinds of cheeses and mix together. Beat egg whites until stiff, adding about 1½ tablespoons flour for added body. Beat the egg yolks until fluffy and gently fold into the egg white mixture. Add a dash of salt to taste.

Chop the chili peppers. Vera says: “If you desire less of a hot taste, remove some of the chile seeds, as they contain the hot flavor.” Grease a large casserole dish that would serve about five people and layer a portion of the egg mixture into the dish. Next layer part of the chopped chili pepper, ending with a portion of the cheese. Repeat until ingredients are used up. Arrange the fresh tomato over the top, and sprinkle with oregano.
Bake for 30 minutes or until mixture is set.
Serves 6 (or more according to test cooks!)

Vera Miles' Mexican CasseroleJust one more thing… Stalwart test cook Peter Fuller, curator of the Vincent Price Legacy UK, made a rather deluxe version of Vera’s casserole, searing fresh chilies over a naked flame and scraping off the charred flesh before adding them to the dish. His feedback was as follows, “My tasters called it a glorified cheese toastie (grilled cheese sandwich), minus the bread. And I have to agree. It certainly should not be viewed as a main, rather as a side dish. I would suggest after baking, to cut it into small bite size pieces as a warm side dish, hors-d’oeuvre, canapé, or amuse bouche depending in what country you’re celebrating. As for reheating leftovers, this doesn’t work in a microwave as it turns into a slab of hot cheese. Best to reheat under a grill.”

I think it is fair to say that this is a super cheesy dish that might be TOO cheesy for some. Test cook Samantha Ellis’ husband, put it like this when he sampled a slice, “just tastes of cheese,” so you might need a big salad with a sharp dressing or a ton of vegetables alongside this dish to cut through the cheesiness.

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The Last Man on Earth | Touring the original Italian film locations in Rome

In the winter of 1961-1962, Vincent Price starred in the first cinematic adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend, re-titled The Last Man on Earth. Although ostensibly set in Los Angeles, the film was actually shot in Rome, Italy, making effective, atmospheric use of the Immortal City’s unique business and residential district, EUR.

This area was originally conceived as the Esposizione Universale Roma, Benito Mussolini’s grand plan to celebrate 20 years of fascism for the 1942 World’s Fair. But it remained unfinished due to the Second World War, and was finally completed in time for the 1960 Olympics in Rome.

The austere new buildings that rose up became symbols of a new wave of Italian rationalism inspired by ancient Roman Imperial town planning; with the most iconic being Marcello Piacentini’s travertine-marble clad Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana (or Square Colosseum). Today it’s the HQ for the Fendi fashion label, and has featured in quite a few films, but The Last Man on Earth was the first to use the location, followed by Federico Fellini’s Boccaccio 70 segment Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio in 1962.

On a recent visit to Rome, I decided to start tracking down the original locations used in the film, and I was surprised to find quite of few. Some, however, remain elusive owing to the passage of time. But here are the ones I have found – so far.

The film begins with the sun rising over an unidentified suburb in Rome, with vista shots of the Tiber, deserted streets littered with corpses, tower blocks and a freeway overpass (to link it to LA obviously), a petrol station, supermarket and a Community Church displaying a sign The End Has Come.

The Last Man on Earth

The Last Man on Earth

This is Santi Pietro e Paolo a Via Ostiense in Piazzale dei Santi Pietro e Paolo 8 in EUR, which was completed in 1955 and was intended to be Mussolini’s mausoleum, but is now where Cardinal Priests are appointed. In my Now shot, my travel companions were quite willing to play ‘dead’ while the odd churchgoer passed by.

The camera then pans on a bungalow where Price’s eponymous Last Man, Robert Morgan resides. Now,  I’m unsure whether this was a set or not, but scenes of Morgan driving towards the entrance reveals an incline and a wood or forest in the distance, so the jury is out on that one.

The Last Man on EarthWhile heading to dispose of his latest ‘victims’, Morgan passes Santi Pietro e Paolo a Via Ostiense and a couple of tower blocks, and ends up on the outskirts of Rome where the burning plague pit is situated.

The Last Man on Earth

The Last Man on EarthAfter picking up some chilled garlic at a modern (1950s style) supermarket, Morgan tracks stakes some more sleeping vampires. A montage reveals a new housing development, an amusement park (most probably the same one that appears in 1966’s Dr Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs) and a large sporting arena.

The Last Man on EarthThe Last Man on EarthThe Last Man on Earth

This Then/Now shot shows the Palazzo Dello Sport, which was completed in 1960 for the Summer Olympics in Rome, and is today known as PalaLottomatica, the home of the Vitus Roma basketball team.

Morgan then falls asleep while visiting his wife’s mausoleum, a modernist building at a cemetery under construction, where he finds himself fighting off a band of vampires. This another location I have yet to find.

The Last Man on EarthThe Last Man on EarthThe Last Man on EarthFlashbacks reveal Morgan’s family life (which takes place in a villa with a terraced garden) and his work at the Mercer Institute of Chemical Research (an unidentified 1930s office building lined with columns), while army trucks drive through EUR’s wide streets.

The Last Man on EarthThe Last Man on EarthBack in the present, Morgan gives chase to a black dog, heading down the street from his home, over a verge (where the same two columns we see at the beginning of the film can be seen), and onto the steps of the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana.

At the four corners of the podium of the iconic Square Colosseum are placed four equestrian sculptural groups by Publio Morbiducci and Alberto de Felci, representing the Dioscuri, the two mythical Greek heroes, sons of Zeus and Leda. Other films shot here include Peter Greenaway’s Belly of an Architect (1987), Hudson Hawke (1991) and Titus (1999) with Anthony Hopkins.

Here’s a fun pic of myself beside one of the statues that grace the podium, with Vincent’s Morgan in situ.
Fusing elements from the original film with what the Square Colosseum looks like today. It’s now the HQ for the Fendi fashion label.

Morgan then runs across a road flanked by a colonnade. This can be found beside the Santi Pietro e Paolo a Via Ostiense.

The next sequence features another iconic EUR structure, Il Fungo, which is situated on a hill across the road from the Palazzo Dello Sport.

This Piezometric water tower was completed in 1960 and continues to supply water to the EUR gardens today. In 1961, tenor Mario del Monaco turned the top of the tower into an exclusive restaurant (although it probably wasn’t open at the crack of dawn when Price filmed his scene). Il Fungo was also used in the opening scenes of Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Eclisse in 1962.

Here’s Vincent in front of Il Fungo today. Note that the street lights are the same ones that you see in the film.

Following shots of a street featuring a statue similar to the ones adorning the Square Colosseum, Morgan finds three vampires staked at a clearing. This is a hill bearing two rows of trees and some white building in the distance. Here, Morgan encounters Ruth who proves his undoing.

In the final eight minutes, Morgan tries to evade capture by the new order of human/vampire hybrids by taking refuge in a unidentified building before being cornered and killed on the altar of a church.

The Last Man on Earth

The film’s climax takes place at the modernist-designed St Pius X Catholic Church via Attlilio Friggeri 87 in Trionfale, Balduina, which was built in 1961. Apart from some recent modernisation, and the installation of the pipe organ (in 1969), the interior has hardly nchanged.

I’m currently putting together a video of my film location finds, but until that’s completed, I shall leave you with one last montage.

Our final picture fuses Vincent’s big death scene with what the altar looks like today.

The Last Man on Earth

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The Spring 2018 Newsletter

With Spring is almost upon us, here’s the latest news from the Vincent Price Legacy UK.

WITCHFINDER GENERAL WEEKENDER
April 21-April 22, 2018
Thanks to everyone who registered to join me and some friends for a weekend away visiting the locations used in Witchfinder General, which will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. We now have our van full (sorry if you missed out) but if you want to still join us and have your own means of transport, then do email me: peter@thesoundofvincentprice.com

SAVE THE DATE 
Amsterdam &Vienna | The Two World Capitals Tour 
September 22 – September 30, 2018

Inspired by the 90th anniversary of Vincent’s Seven Capital Tour of the Art Capitals of Europe, Victoria Price and myself invite you to join us on a cultural tour of two of the cities that Vincent visited in 1928: Amsterdam & Vienna. We’ve planned an exciting cultural itinerary, which will be attractive to both travellers who have never been to Europe before, as well as for seasoned visitors.

Our new company ESC TOURS creates unique itineraries that include both travel highlights as well as unique cultural experiences that allow travellers to get beneath the tourist experience and develop a deeper connection with each country. This two-city tour includes museums and castles, World Heritage sites, exploring parks and neighbourhoods, food adventures, musical entertainment — and much more!!

If you are interested in finding out more about this trip, please sign up following this link: https://www.esctours.com/contact/ 

You can also email us with questions at exploresavorcelebrate@gmail.com

For those of you who have travelled with us before and consider yourselves the more adventurous type, we are also offering an Off the Beaten Track: Austria & Germany trip from 30 September 30 – 9 October. We will only have a limited number of seats for this trip, and first priority goes to previous ESC travellers. If you are interested in this trip – or both trips – please let us know vie email as soon as possible.

https://www.victoriaprice.com/the-way-of-being-lost/

THE PRICE LEGACY BOOK COLLECTION 
Victora is currently on the road promoting her inspirational memoir The Way of Being Lost: A Road Trip to My Truest Self, which is available in the US from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound.

I am working with the publisher on bringing Victoria back to the UK for a book tour, where all of the Price Family Legacy titles will be getting their first-ever UK print run in November.

These will include Vincent’s visual memoir, I Like What I Know, his tribute to his canine pal The Book of Joe, and all of his cookbooks, including Cooking Price Wise. I am ooking for suitable venues to host Victoria.

So, if you know of a great little bookshop, art gallery, cinema or restaurant in your area of the UK or Ireland that might be able to help, then do get in touch with me at: peter@thesoundofvincentprice.com

Well that’s all for now folks – hope you are enjoying the snow.

Best regards
Peter
Curator,
Vincent Price Legacy UK

VINCENT PRICE LEGACY UK
https://vincentpricelegacy.uk/ 

THE SOUND OF VINCENT PRICE
http://www.thesoundofvincentprice.com/ 

MY FIRST TRIP ABROAD
https://vincentpricejournal.wordpress.com/ 

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Cooking With Columbo | The Johnny Cash Chili Bowl Cook-along

Cooking with Columbo20 February marks the 50th anniversary of Prescription Murder – the first pilot episode of Columbo, the US murder mystery series starring Peter Falk as the raincoat-wearing sleuth that ended up running for 10 seasons until 2004. And what better way to celebrate than with the launch of a fantastic new culinary tome from Silver Screen Suppers’ Jenny Hammerton, the author of the Cooking with Joan Crawford Cookbook.

Cooking with Columbo: Suppers with the Shambling Sleuth is a treasury of 100 recipes, collected from Peter and his many co-stars, served up episode by episode alongside a selection of tasty side dishes and kitchen tested tips.

To accompany the book’s release, Jenny has been hosting the Columbo Bowl Chili Cook-Along (which ends on 20 February and everyone is invited to join in so check it out here), in which foodie fans are whipping up a chili dish based on a recipe by country and western star Johnny Cash (he was the guest in the 1974 episode Swan Song).

Chili was a big favourite of Columbo’s; although he got quite the surprise when Johnny’s version in the episode turned out to be made from squirrel meat. Thankfully Jenny asked everyone to either use beef (or try out the vegetarian version) for the cook-along. I opted for the former and you can see the results that I made live for the cook-along in the video below. Plus, I’ve included the recipe at the bottom on this post.

So what’s the Vincent Price link? Well, not only was Vinnie a big foodie himself (and the author of a number of cookbooks), he was also one of the many guest stars and appeared in Lovely But Lethal alongside Vera Miles, whose recipe appears in the book. Jenny has kindly provided that extract and I’ll be doing a post real soon.

In the meantime, here’s Johnny’s Chili recipe – and as it calls for beer as one of the ingredients, I have of course used a bottle of Hopdaemon’s Vincent Price Ale: Black Cat.

Johnny Cash ChiliJohnny Cash’s Chili
1 lb / 450g ground/minced venison (if available) or ground/minced beef (chuck or sirloin)
1/2 lb / 225g venison steaks (if available) or beef steaks, such as sirloin, or a rump roast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 and 1/2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon canola/rapeseed oil
24 oz / 680g canned tomatoes
1 large green bell pepper
1/2 large red bell pepper
2.5 jalapeño peppers (optional)
1/2 habanero pepper (optional)
1 packet McCormick’s Mild Chili Seasoning Mix (or your favorite brand)
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup / 32g chili powder (New Mexico chili powder if available)
1/6 cup / 21g cumin
1/2 tablespoon sage
3/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
15 oz / 400g can black beans, drained
15 oz / 400g can pinto beans, drained
15 oz / 400g can chili beans/kidney beans in chili sauce
12 oz / 340g can kidney beans, drained*
6 oz / 170ml beer
1/8 cup / 25g sugar
A handful of self-rising cornmeal*

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Brown the steak in the oil in batches, draining off some of the fat if necessary. Remove from the heat and set aside. In a separate frying pan, brown the ground meat over medium-high heat. Drain off the fat and set meat aside.

With the oil remaining in the pot, brown half the onions and garlic over medium heat until they are caramelized. Now add the well-drained ground beef and steak. Stir and heat it all up. Add the cans of tomatoes, the bell peppers, hot peppers (if using), and the remainder of the onions and garlic. Heat to a brisk simmer, stirring often.

John Carter Cash says that his dad would normally add the spices in the following order, first the chili packet, followed by some salt and black pepper, chili powder, cumin, sage, oregano, and cayenne pepper. John advises tasting the chili and once the spicing it is to your liking, drain the cans of beans and add to the mixture. Now taste again, as the beans mellow the flavor of the chili. Once the chili is to your taste, pour in the bottle of beer. Stir well. Cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sugar to your taste. Simmer, covered, for at least another 30 minutes, making sure to stir so the chili does not burn. Now add the cornmeal and stir in.

* If self-rising cornmeal is unavailable, you can make it yourself. Just combine 1 cup / 120g of cornmeal, 1/3 cup / 40g all-purpose/plain flour, 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Put the leftover mix in a sealed container and save for your next batch of Johnny Cash chili.
Serves 6

 

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Expedition to the Dr Phibes Rises Again desert locations

While on a visit to Malaga over Christmas, I took a 2-hr drive north to Almeria to check out the Fort Bravo cinema studios where films such as Valdez is Coming, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Patton and The Hunting Party were shot. Just 10-minutes away, however, there’s also a location that was used to stand in for the Egyptian desert in 1972’s Dr Phibes Rises Again.

Was I excited about finally tracking this down after all these years? Hell yeah! It was the best Christmas present ever, and I found them in the Rambla del Buho – right next to each other (X: 552275 Y: 4100774).

Dr Phibes Rises Again in TabernasThe first is the small hill where Vincent Price’s Phibes and Valli Kemp’s Vulnavia dine on the local fish and quaff champagne in a tent. It appears in a comic scene in which Phibes almost chokes on a fish bone. Despite the ‘Keep Off’ signs, I couldn’t help but take a climb to the exact spot where the tent was pitched (can you spot me in the pic below?).

Dr Phibes Rises Again in Tabernas

The second, featuring a very noticeable rock fomation, marks the entrance to the ancient temple hidden in the mountain where Phibes discovers the River of Life.

Dr Phibes Rises Again in TabernasThe film shows Phibes and Vulnavia heading towards the promotory. Unfortunately, the advancing years has seen some major rock and sand shifts, which made climbing it a little risky – and I couldn’t quite get to the exact position. But hey! It was still cool to be here.

Dr Phibes Rises Again in Tabernas

This location also appears in Indian Jones and the Last Crusade in which Harrison Ford, riding on horseback, picks up a rock to render a tank useless.

Dr Phibes Rises Again in Tabernas

Dr Phibes Rises Again in Tabernas

Dr Phibes Rises Again in Tabernas

Another scene that took place in this area involved John Thaw’s Shavers climbing towards the entrance just before his grisly death at the claws of an eagle. This was a bit hard to track down exactly, but I’m sort of close in the above pic).

But you see what it looks like in these now and then shots coutesy of the Western Locations Spain website (www.moon-city-garbage.agency), which was a great help in starting out on my expedition.

Dr Phibes Rises Again in Tabernas

Dr Phibes Rises Again in Tabernas

Finally, the Biederbeck campsite (which Phibes spies on) is also located in the region, between the main highway heading to Tabernas and just before Mini Oasis Hollywood. However, in my excitement at finding the Phibes mountain, I completely forgot to visit it.

Dr Phibes Rises Again in Tabernas

Dr Phibes Rises Again in TabernasBut I did score an informative book called Almeria in Film which has so many great locations that pop up in classics like Valley of the Gwangi that I’m now planning on returning soon in order to fill in the gaps – and also to find out where the sand dune shots were filmed (which feature in the scenes in which Gerald Sim’s Hackett encounters the Clockwork men).

almeria in film

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