The Haunted Palace ★★★½

The Haunted Palace is directed by legendary B movie film-maker Roger Corman, and is written by Corman's long term collaborator Charles Beaumont. The film is an adaption of a novella by H. P. Lovecraft and and it's title taken from a poem by Edgar Allen Poe. The Haunted Palace tells the story of a necromancer named Joseph Curwen(Vincent Price). After performing a strange ritual on a young girl, the local townspeople accuse him of being a warlock. He is then burnt alive by the villagers of Arkham. In his final moments Curwen vows to return and exact vengeance upon the townspeople, and places a curse on them.

One hundred and ten years later his descendant Charles Dexter Ward(Vincent Price in a duel role), and his wife Ann(Debra Paget) arrive in Arkham after inheriting the palace of Joseph Curwen. During their stay Charles begins to fall under the control of Josephs spirit, and begins to replicate his ritual of summoning a Demon with the use of the Necronomicon.

I watched Arrow Video blu-ray release, and they did a marvellous job of restoring the film, the picture quality breathes new life into the film. Whilst the set design is fairly standard for a B movie Gothic town, it has a lot of charm, and has an effective atmosphere in the fog ridden town. The residents of the town are also well developed, they're plagued with fear and animosity due to Curwen's curse that ails their families, in-which they've developed malformations. The only downside is we only get a couple of scenes showcasing the effects of the curse before it's swept away, and it felt like a missed opportunity to add more depth to the residents unfair vitriol towards Curwen's descendant.

Vincent Price gives a fantastic commanding performance, which at times can feel a bit stagy, but works well when he's portraying two different personalities. The good direction from Corman never allows for any confusion as to who's currently inhabiting Wards body at any given time. Debra Paget also does good work in her final film role as Wards wife Ann. She becomes more robust, and hands on, in finding out what's happening to him as she notices the change in him. Paget along with Price bring a level of class to a film that could easily of felt silly. The film is also helped along by good supporting performances from Lon Chaney Jr. as the Palace's caretaker, and Frank Maxwell the town doctor that helps Ann Investigate the strange occurrences.

The film also contains of the best scores iv'e heard from a Horror film. it's orchestral style waltz is used to great effect. The only real complaints I have with the film was that despite it's excellent build up the film fell a bit flat in it's third act. Also despite this being a Lovecraft adaptation we only get one quick glance of the demon that was being summoned. This plot line was disappointing, it felt rushed and in the end was completely inconsequential. For the most part this film worked better as a straight up revenge film, as Curwen begins bumping off the townsfolk. There is a-lot of fun to be had with The Haunted palace, it's just a shame that it's let down by the screenplay which had a-lot of potential but doesn't go anywhere with the more interesting supernatural elements.

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