Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Vincent Price

In my opinion, the most fun horror star of all time was Vincent Price. In real life he was a charming bon vivant with a deep knowledge of cuisine and fine art; in the movies he had the face of a villain, a great fruity voice and a flair for being both sinister and funny. Only one of his roles - the lead in Witchfinder General - is still genuinely frightening, but if you want a fun time you can do a lot worse than just picking a random Vincent Price vehicle from the 1960s. Especially if you happen across any of the Edgar Allan Poe adaptations he starred in for director Roger Corman.

In a comment attached to an earlier post, my friend Sonia (who I wish would update her blog a little more often) referred to Price as "man-candy". Here is the image that prompted this outburst.

I still didn't create this image, but I still approve it.

When Price guest-starred on The Muppet Show, he delivered a memorable performance of the song "You've Got A Friend". Unfortunately this was cut from the DVD release because Disney cheaped out on music rights.

Fortuately, we have YouTube.

Price's distinctive voice was a natural for radio, and he made many appearances on many different shows. Perhaps his most memorable was "Three Skeleton Key" on Suspense, which he starred in on several occasions. Here is an mp3 of what is supposed to be the best version of this, from March 17 1950, three years before Price's horror movie career took off with House of Wax.

A very cool late Vincent Price appearance was Tim Burton's wonderful stop-motion short film Vincent, which he narrated. This is available on the DVD of The Nightmare Before Christmas, but again it's on YouTube. Price went on to appear as the father/inventor of the title character of Burton's movie Edward Scissorhands, which proved to be a fitting end to his long career.

Many horror movies today seem to me to be too concerned with torture, gore and cruelty. I don't mind any of those things and have enjoyed some of these movies, but I think it's a shame that the naive and innocent fun of the old-style horror villains are all but forgotten. Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre and Peter Cushing were better actors, but for me there are very few movie stars of any kind who are as much fun to watch as Vincent Price.

Here is a sample of his distinctively spooky laugh, from the end of Michael Jackson's Thriller. Use it wisely.

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