How many great Vincent Price horror movies are there? There are quite a few, and here's a list of some of his best scary movies and performances. The sly and handsome charmer who has played so many dastardly villains, even a few heroes, and frequently winked at the camera could never be forgotten. Price had a voice like no other, and he used it to thrilling effect in his career. His talent is undeniable, and his legend is secure. We should always remember this legend's contribution to the genre.
The Masque of the Red Death (1964)
The Masque of the Red Death is part of the cycle of horror films based on the works of Edgar Allen Poe, starring Vincent Price and directed by Roger Corman. The films were gorgeous, and all but one had Price in them. This film is an adaptation of Poe's The Masque of Red Death, about Prince Prospero, a villainous despot who cares nothing for the villagers under his rule. When he finds a victim of the plague, the Red Death, he has the village burned, but not before abducting five villagers and inviting the local nobles to his castle for a party. His dastardly plan is to make two villagers fight to the death and make one of the women his consort. But the plague has other ideas and is more powerful than any nobleman.
House of Wax (1953)
House of Wax was directed by Andre de Toth and stars Vincent Price as Professor Henry Jarrod, who is burned when his partner sets his wax museum on fire. Jarrod goes missing and returns, having been injured while escaping the flames. He starts a new wax museum, and a woman begins to suspect that the new wax figures may be the bodies of real people. It also stars one Charles Buchinsky, who later became Charles Bronson. It's a rather sumptuous remake of Mystery of the Wax Museum, and Price is a strong villain with an evil presence.
Theatre of Blood (1973)
Theatre of Blood is a horror comedy film directed by Douglas Hickox starring Vincent Price as Shakespearean actor Edward Lionheart and Diana Rigg as his daughter Edwina Lionheart. After the Theatre Critics Guild disrespects Edward Lionheart, who jumps into the Thames River, a crowd of homeless people rescues Lionheart. He then springs his revenge plan against the critics into action on the Ides of March. The killings of the critics are all based on Shakespearean plays like Julius Caesar, Troilus and Cressida, Romeo and Juliet, and most gruesomely, Titus Andronicus. Lionheart does the killings himself, dressed in costumes, playing a role that is convincing enough that each critic never suspects a thing.
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
William Castle's House On Haunted Hill is a classic Vincent Price 50s horror film. Using the arch acting style that was his trademark, Price battles wits and exchanges barbs with his unfaithful and unloving wife in a house where he is holding a contest to see who can survive the night. As Frederick Loren, Price has an ulterior motive for the game, offering the five contestants $10,000 for staying the night in the home. One memorable scene is when a ghost with a face frozen in a scream surprises one of the contestants, Nora (Carolyn Craig), and she glides out of the room as if she is on a track like a train.
The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)
The Abominable Dr. Phibes is a cult classic horror comedy and the other revenge film on this list. Dr. Anton Phibes unleashes his personalized version of Ten Plagues of Egypt against the doctors he believes killed his wife during surgery. Phibes was in an accident on the way to the hospital, lost his voice, and was disfigured. I think that this is one of Price's most frightening performances. Something in his eyes makes Phibes's face much scarier than anything else. It's baroque and weird in a way that horror movies often aren't, and that's what makes it unique.
Last Man on Earth (1964)
Last Man on Earth is the first adaptation of Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend. It is likely the source of the trope that human beings are the real monsters. Price gives a powerful performance in the film as Dr. Robert Morgan and fights desperately as the last man in a world full of vampires. It is melancholy and stately, another more serious role for Price, who does a great job. The horror of possibly being the last man on Earth, maybe the last human left in a world full of vampires, is something that Price shows in his performance. The hopelessness and despair are evident.
Witchfinder General (1968)
Witchfinder General was directed by Michael Reeves, a director who tragically died young. Vincent Price was not the first choice for the role and experienced frustration while working with the director Reeves, but ultimately felt that he gave one of his most outstanding performances in the film. He plays Matthew Hopkins as a truly evil man who nevertheless has a touch of vulnerability about him. It is undoubtedly one of his more layered and complicated portrayals. The film is quite violent for a movie made during this period and got some criticism for the violence. The film, alternately titled The Conqueror Worm in the United States, has become a cult favorite.
The Monster Club (1981)
The Monster Club is one film that loves monsters. Vincent Price plays Erasmus, a hungry vampire who bites a writer on the street and then invites the writer R. Chetwynd-Hayes, who wrote the film and put himself in the movie as one of the main characters, to The Monster Club as an apology of sorts. At the club, where monsters dance and perform, Erasmus tells three tales of the macabre: The Shadmock, The Ghouls, and The Vampire. The conclusion that the writer comes to after hearing these stories and watching the monsters being friends with each other is that humans are the worst monsters of all. Is this the source of that well-known trope? Who can say for sure, but this fond tribute to monsters is also pretty scary. It also stars Donald Pleasence, John Carradine, Britt Eckland, and Stuart Whitman.
The Tingler (1959)
The Tingler is one of the most fun horror films early in Vincent Price's career in horror. Price had been a mainstream actor working in noir films like Laura and making a great impression on audiences. Even when he wasn't working in a horror movie, he was a great actor. William Castle, the director of The Tingler, was known for his "gimmicks" or pranks to get audiences to come to the theater. In The Tingler, Price plays a pathologist who discovers we all have a creature on our spine called the Tingler. One of the wildest parts of this movie happens when Price's character, Dr. Warren Chapin, takes a dose of acid. The monster goes on the run and starts committing mayhem. Only the scream of a human being could defeat it. The film is good but even better when viewed with Castle's gimmick "Percepto." "Percepto" is a buzzer randomly placed under the theater seats. I have had the privilege of attending a screening of The Tingler with "Percepto," which was amazing.
The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
The Pit and the Pendulum is the second in the series of Poe adaptations that Roger Corman directed for American International Pictures. It was a critical and audience hit, ensuring Corman would continue to make further Poe films with Price. Noted screenwriter and author Richard Matheson wrote it and starred Barbara Steele, Luana Anders, and John Kerr. The brother-in-law, Francis Bernard (John Carr) of Nicholas Medina (Vincent Price), comes looking for his sister, Elizabeth (Barbara Steele), Medina's wife, and is told that she died of fright. Bernard refuses to accept this explanation and vows to find his sister. There's a dreadful plot afoot, and Medina is tormented by the memory of his childhood and the torture chamber in his castle. Vincent Price and Barbara Steele make a fascinating pair in this movie.