Death is all among us, or it’s a rave, take your pick!
Screenplay By: Charles Beaumont & R. Wright Campbell
Directed By: Roger Corman
I will admit that I haven’t been exposed to a lot of Roger Corman’s work. I’ve seen some, but not enough to form a definitive opinion about the man. In the case of Mr. Corman I think it’s safe to say that every cinephile knows him by reputation. I get the distinct impression that Mr. Corman has accepted his reputation and even dived into said reputation with gusto. Knowing very little about Mr. Corman’s work and having his reputation as my main guiding light I certainly did not expect what The Masque Of The Red Death presented to me.
Sumptuous. I was taken aback by the visual style of The Masque Of The Red Death. Nicolas Roeg presents a dream world, full of popping colors and a look that rivals any technicolor picture. It’s safe to say that the visuals in The Masque Of The Red Death stick out and make an immediate impression. But, the visuals of Mr. Corman’s film are more than just visuals. They highlight the chaos of the world the film is taking place in and the decadence on display. It’s telling that the forests around the castle of Prince Prospero look as if they have had the color washed out of them. They are neither alive nor dead, they simply exist next to the macabre events in the castle.
Delicious. I have seen a few movies from Vincent Price, but not a lot of his earlier work. The Masque Of The Red Death is full of Mr. Price’s wonderful voice and his assured presence. He is delightfully evil, taking over the screen every time the camera is on him, and sometimes even when it is only his voice that can be heard. Mr. Price’s Prospero is evil personified, but his performance is so magnetic that I couldn’t wait to dive further into his world of evil. The climax of The Masque Of The Red Death would not have worked as well as it did if not for the gothic presence of Vincent Price.
Macabre. The visuals pop, and Mr. Price is evil, but the film on the whole is macabre in a fashion that would make Tim Burton jealous. Mr. Corman relies heavily on the source material and borrows liberally from Ingmar Bergman. He achieves the desired result of a world out of control where nothing makes sense. Man will die because of its decadence, and The Masque Of The Red Death is more than willing to revel in the decadence of its characters. Humanity is the figure being fought over in The Masque Of The Red Death, but humanity takes a backseat to the macabre machinations taking place around it. Mr. Corman splashes color, lavish sets, and fine acting on the screen to really drive home how macabre the world of his film has become.
Maybe Roger Corman was a schlockmaster most of the time. His reputation may be true and for all intents and purposes it should precede any discussion of him. However, The Masque Of The Red Death shows the talent behind the schlock. Mr. Corman may never be better, but if The Masque Of The Red Death is his best then it is a best to be very proud of. Sumptuous, delicious, and macabre. Three words that perfectly describe the chaotic dreamscape that is the eye opening The Masque Of The Red Death.