Based off the Edgar Allan Poe tale, The Masque of the Red Death is a 1964 horror film directed by Roger Corman and starring Vincent Price.
Price plays Prince Prospero, a twisted man who cares little for the peasants that live on his land. He is confronted by some that are starving. He gets angry that they dared speak to him so sentences them to death. One of the men’s daughter (Francesca) pleads for his life gaining the attention of Prospero.
What also gets his attention is the discovery of the Red Death, a plague that has infected the village. He orders it burnt to the ground, kidnaps Francesca & returns to his castle.
Safe behind his walls, he sends out invitations to the noblemen & women of the land inviting them to party at his castle. His plan is to throw a lavish event that will please Satan, his master, all while preparing Francesca to be his consort. Unfortunately the Red Death isn’t the only thing that should be concerning Prospero.
The Masque Of the Red Death is a glorious, artful & dream-like horror that chills with its dark mystery & stellar acting. To flesh out the story, Corman also added some delightful sub-plots taken from another of Poe’s work, Hop-Frog & Torture By Hope by Auguste Villiers de I’Isle-Adam. These stories fit so seamlessly in that you wouldn’t know they weren’t part of The Red Death if you’d never read it.
There’s no denying that it focuses a little more heavily on delivering an art project. You only have to look at the dream sequences & the final dance of death to get that. However, it still delivers on the horror side of things thanks to its Satanist themes & the evilness of Price’s Prospero. The acting legend absolutely nails it here & is the standout thing about the movie unsurprisingly.
Even when he’s trying to seduce the much younger Francesca he exudes such power & authority it would be a task for anyone to not give in. Near the end of the film, Prospero reveals his satanist intentions fully & delivers dialogue that should sound horridly cheesy. Instead, coming out of Price’s mouth it just sounds so convincing. Such an immense talent, it’s a pity that the rest of the cast pale in comparison.
The Masque Of the Red Death is the sort of classic horror that will divide people. One set thinking it’s nothing more then an over-the-top art love-letter to Poe while the other enjoys the colourful silliness & under-lying theme of darkness.
Here’s the thing, both sides are right. The Masque Of the Red Death is all of those things & if that is to your taste then you’re going to love it. We sure do.
The Masque of the Red Death