Capital Celluloid - Day 65: Sunday Mar 6, 2011

The Masque of the Red Death (Corman, 1964): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 4.15pm

"There are chords in the hearts of the most reckless which cannot be touched without emotion. Even with the utterly lost, to whom life and death are equally jests, there are matters of which no jest can be made." Edgar Allan Poe, The Masque of the Red Death.

Roger Corman is perhaps best known now in his role as a producer for kick-starting the careers of the Movie Brats who were so influential in the 1970s and beyond, including Coppola, Scorsese, Bogdanovich and Hellman. However, as a director he made a number of memorable movies, the best of which were his Edgar Allan Poe adaptations.

The Masque of the Red Death was one of the finest, a deliciously macabre take on Poe's short story which allowed Vincent Price free rein to leer and Nicolas Roeg to astound us with his cinematography. The tale concerns Prince Prospero (Price), who terrorises a plague-ridden population while he indulges in general debauchery and depravity with a group of fawning courtiers in his isolated castle.

Here is an extract. And here is an article by Geoffrey Macnab in the Independent on Roeg and other lost visionaries of British cinema, and another here by David Jenkins in Time Out.

Being shown at BFI Southbank as part of the Roeg season.

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