No, I Will Not Apologize To The Little People Of America.
The Masque Of The Red Death
People watch films for two reasons. They do it to escape and forget the day-to-day troubles of their mundane lives, and to write book reports. The always entertaining Roger Corman/Vincent Price/Edgar Allen Poe films thankfully fulfill both needs, allowing me to both temporarily forget that I’m a failure in life, love, and career, and help countless first year university students fail Early American Literature classes by handing in essays on The Raven that mention the wizard fight at the end. I love Poe, but I understand that some appreciate him best through sexed-up horror films loosely adapted from his writings, as opposed to wading through short stories and poems so dense they power gravity drives in bad sci-fi shows.
However, in the list of Poe/Corman films, The Masque Of The Red Death had always ranked rather low, in favor of movies like The Tomb Of Ligea and my ultimate favorite, The Pit and The Pendulum. Aside from The Raven, The Pit and the Pendulum takes the most liberties from the source material, plus it has the added benefit of Barbara Steele, in my opinion the most beautiful of the English actresses working in European schlock films for gin money. As well as being a talented actress, Steele’s face is round and pretty with just a touch of cold meanness in it, as if someone mixed Janeane Garofalo with a 14th century Florentine etching of the Whore of Babylon. But despite Steele’s absence, The Masque Of The Red Death has risen to the top of my list after a second viewing, which is an impressive feat for a movie that contains midgets. Call me insensitive, but I have difficulty relating to characters that aren’t human, which is why I hate Madagascar and movies with the Wayans brothers. Starring Vincent Price… actually, I shouldn’t have to say more. It’s Vincent Price, for the love of all that is creepy, sly, and distinctively voiced. I shouldn’t need to tell you that the film is actually a fairly interesting examination of the philosophy of religion and its oppressive nature cloaked in a gothic horror tale. You should watch in on the basis of the cast and crew alone, though you’ll do well to remember my lofty interpretation of the subtext. Trust me, it will help with your book report.