Thursday, August 30, 2012

TWICE-TOLD TALES (1963) movie review

Twice-Told Tales (1963) d. Salkow, Sidney

Mildly engaging trio of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s supernatural stories that acquires the star (Vincent Price) of American International’s Poe series, but director Salkow displays little of Roger Corman’s enthusiastic storytelling zeal. (The opening image of a rather limp skeleton hand opening a rather limp volume doesn’t inspire much confidence.)

In the first story, “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment,” old coots Price and Sebastian Cabot (via some dodgy old-age makeup) discover a youth-restoring elixir. When it also revives their long-dead sweetheart Mari Blanchard, romantic rivalries are sparked anew.

“Rappuccini’s Daughter,” the best of the bunch, offers the dark fable of an embittered scientist (Price) who infuses daughter Joyce Taylor with the essence of a toxic plant, making her touch lethal to human contact. All this plays havoc with suitor Brett Halsey’s social life, as he learns that his first kiss with the lovely lass could be his last.

The final tale, an incredibly truncated version of “The House of the Seven Gables,” follows the scheming Pynchon family searching the ancestral mansion for a hidden inheritance, amidst family curses, ghostly music, and otherworldly lovers. This dramatically uneven segment features spectral effects both impressive (model houses imploding in slow motion) and ridiculous (Price lamely throttled by a disembodied skeleton hand).

As anthology films go, this is by no means a disaster, just not terribly inspired.

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