MGM Home Entertainment
Cast: Vincent Price, Mark Damon, Myrna Fahey
Extras: Commentary Track, Theatrical Trailer
When the film opens we see a lonesome rider approach a dark mansion that is looming in the mist, surrounded by a swamp. Death is around, we can tell. The rotten tree stumps, the perfect silence in the air, the fog that is hardly moving – all omens of sinister things to come. The rider is Philip Winthrop (Mark Damon) who is arriving at the family mansion of the Ushers to take his fiancée Madeline (Myrna Fahey) back with him to Boston. But Madeline’s brother Roderick Usher (Vincent Price) is very opposed to this relationship and tries to keep the young man away from his sister. He tells stories of sicknesses and madness that manifests itself in his family, and of a curse that has befallen the house.
A rational young man, Philip does not believe anything Roderick tells him and tries to brighten up the intimidating house – to no effect, and shortly after his arrival Madeline mysteriously passes away. After laying her body to rest in the family tomb, the devastated and mourning Philip prepares to leave the family mansion but Roderick’s behavior indicates that he is hiding something. Philip decides to find out the truth about the curse that lasts on the family. Is it really madness, or is it more?
I always find it fascinating to watch "The Fall Of The House Of Usher" because it is a film that has been put together very carefully, which is especially surprising, given the film’s low budget of a meager $200,000. Shots are very carefully framed, the image composition is rich and visually striking, camera moves are masterfully timed and arranged, the production design is beautifully intricate and the acting is carried by some great talents. Vincent Price made the part of the morbid, slightly insane, yet extremely cultivated aristocrat so much his own that he kept playing it over and over again in practically all of Corman’s Poe adaptations. His performance in "The Fall Of The House Of Usher" clearly shows why that is, as he dominates the screen in a very understated way, luring the viewer into the mysteries he harbors, while creating a harsh exterior with the precise delivery of his lines.
The colors in the movie are rich and the DVD perfectly restores the silky look of the production with deep reds and vivid hues, while always maintaining the somewhat drab look that director Roger Corman has set up to create the general atmosphere of the movie. It is a sickly look that perfectly encapsulates the film’s essence and helped define this particular feel that Corman would reuse many times after wards for his other Poe-adaptations.
Blacks are deep, creating a very dimensional picture with good shadow definition and plenty of detail. The compression is flawless, maintaining all the definition found in the transfer.
MGM Home Entertainment has supplied a newly recorded <$commentary,commentary track> for this DVD. Director Roger Corman delivers and engaging and insightful scene-specific <$commentary,commentary track> that is full of valuable information and great memories. He explains in detail how he was working at the time, where his focus was, how certain things were achieved, and he talks a great deal about his actors. Corman is noticeably fond of the movie – deservedly so I may add – and listening to his comments is truly a pleasure, making it a great addition to this release.