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House of Usher(1960)
After a long journey, Philip arrives at the Usher mansion seeking his loved one, Madeline. Upon arriving, however, he discovers that Madeline and her brother Roderick Usher (Vincent Price) have been afflicted with a mysterious malady: Roderick's senses have become painfully acute, while Madeline has become catatonic. That evening, Roderick tells his guest of an old Usher family curse: any time there has been more than one Usher child, all of the siblings have gone insane and died horrible deaths. As the days wear on, the effects of the curse reach their terrifying climax...
For more about House of Usher and the House of Usher Blu-ray release, see House of Usher Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on August 28, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Roger Corman
Writers: Edgar Allan Poe, Richard Matheson (I)
Starring: Vincent Price, Mark Damon, Myrna Fahey, Harry Ellerbe
» See full cast & crew
House of Usher Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, August 28, 2013
Roger Corman's "The Fall of the House of Usher" (1960) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Arrow Video. The supplemental features on the disc include an original trailer for the film; specially-commissioned video essay by critic and filmmaker David Cairns; archival interview with the great Vincent Price; video interview with Gothic horror expert Jonathan Rigby; video interview with director Joe Dante; and an audio commentary with director and producer Roger Corman. The release also arrives with a collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by author and critic Tim Lucas and an extract from Vincent Price's long out of print autobiography, illustrated with original archive stills and posters. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
The Fall of the House of Usher was the first of eight films director Roger Corman shot using stories by the legendary writer Edgar Allen Poe. This film was also the director's first collaboration with the great Vincent Price.
The young and handsome Philip Winthrop (Mark Damon, Black Sabbath, Dead Men Don't Count) arrives at the Ushers' mansion to meet Madeline (Myrna Fahey, TV's Perry Mason, TV's 77 Sunset Strip), the woman he intends to marry. Much to his surprise, however, her brother Roderick (Vincent Price, Witchfinder General) informs him that she cannot possibly go back to Boston with him because she is seriously ill.
While waiting for Madeline to recover, Phillip is intrigued by the strange noises the mansion frequently produces. While discussing Madeline's sickness with Roderick, Philip also comes to realize that his future brother-in-law might have more than a few good reasons to keep his sister inside the mansion. Visibly frustrated and confused by Roderick's behavior, Phillip decides to find out why he is pushed away from Madeline.
Despite being shot with a very small budget The Fall of the House of Usher looks terrific. Cinematographer Floyd Crosby's (High Noon, The Wonderful Country) careful framing and use of light and color give the film a wonderful Gothic flavor that makes it easy for the viewer to accept that the mansion is a central character in the story. The noises and the moving long shadows, in particular, are very effectively recorded and filmed to enhance the creepiest sequences in the film.
What gives the film its class and quality, however, is Price's presence. He truly does look like a hopelessly delusional aristocrat who would do anything to prove that he is right, and his determination is indeed seriously unsettling. During the second half, when he delivers the important revelations about the Ushers the calmness in his voice is particularly chilling.
Unfortunately, Damon's performance does not exude the same confidence. His actions often feel forced or simply too melodramatic while his lines are frequently delivered with a tone that makes select sequences look faintly risible. Obviously his character's emotions are very different, but the artificiality in them is nevertheless too obvious.
Fahey looks appropriately disillusioned at first and later on terrified (with the different close-ups of her pale but very beautiful face effectively adding plenty to the Gothic flavor). Her reappearance is undoubtedly one of the big highlights in the film.
Ultimately, Corman's The Fall of the House of Usher is a genre film that does not break any new boundaries -- the only notable exception probably being the fact that it was the first American horror film to be shot in Eastman Color and CinemaScope -- but what it manages to accomplish with very little is indeed impossible not to admire. The film has its own identity yet it retains the original quality of Poe's story.
In 2005, The Fall of the House of Usher was selected for preservation and listed with the United States National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
House of Usher Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Roger Corman's The Fall of the House of Usher arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Arrow Video.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray release:
"The Fall of the House of Usher was transferred from a 35mm interpositive. The was transferred in HD on a Spirit DataCine at Deluxe Digital Median in Sherman Oaks, California. Restoration was performed at Deluxe, removing instances of dirt, debris and scratches, using Reneat and DRS. Audio was transferred from a 35mm mono mag. The colorist was Kevin O'Connor and the project was managed by Chris Lane of MGM."
The film has a very solid organic look. Where light is not restricted depth is quite impressive. Clarity is also very pleasing. Colors are lush and vibrant, never appearing artificially boosted. Some stabilization adjustments have also been applied to give the film a better balanced look. There are no traces of excessive degraining corrections. Problematic sharpening adjustments have not been performed either. This being said, during select frame transitions some minor sharpness and contrast fluctuations are present, but it is obvious that these fluctuations are indeed inherited (screencapture #10 is one such transition). Lastly, there are no large cuts, debris, splices, stains, or warps, but there are a few very tiny flecks that pop up. All in all, considering the materials that were used to produce the high-definition transfer, the final result is indeed very pleasing. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
House of Usher Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray release: English LPCM 2.0. For the record, Arrow Video have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they split the image frame and the black bar below it.
The lossless track is outstanding. Les Baxter's score atmospheric score benefits the most from the lossless treatment, but the dialog also has wonderful depth. Listening to Vincent Price's calm but spooky voice is quite a treat. Overall dynamic movement is also very good for a mono track. For the record, there are no pops, audio dropouts, or distortions to report in this review.
House of Usher Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
House of Usher Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Fall of the House of Usher is yet another very solid Blu-ray release from the folks at Arrow Video. I think that at this point it is fair to say that this year they have been responsible for some of the most exciting releases to be produced in the United Kingdom. Well done. Buy with confidence, folks. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
House of Usher: Other Editions
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House of Usher Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Fall of the House of Usher Blu-ray - August 8, 2013
British distributors Arrow Video have officially announced and detailed their upcoming Blu-ray release of exploitation maestro Roger Corman's The Fall of the House of Usher (1960), starring Vincent Price, Mark Damon, and Myrna Fahey. The release will be available ...
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