24 February 2015

DVD Review - Diary of a Madman (1963)

Simply Media
Rating: 15
Reginald Le Borg
Vincent Price, Nancy Kovack, Elaine Devry
Release: 23rd February 2015

Vincent Price started the ‘60s off by starring in a series of film based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe directed by the B-Movie maestro Roger Corman. Naturally, if something is successful, lesser filmmakers try to replicate that success, and Price went on to star in numerous copies of the Corman/Poe films - one of them is Diary of Madman.

Simon Cordier (Vincent Price) is a French magistrate and amateur sculptor. The film starts with his funeral, when the patrons of his funeral discover his diary and start to read it out loud. They soon discover he was an extremely troubled man. Cordier was being controlled by the evil being known as horla. The horla starts destroying his life, but he has a glimmer of hope after he goes back to his interest in art, meets a model, and starts an affair, but naturally, in gothic horror tradition, it doesn’t end well.

The film’s story comes out of the work of the French writer Guy de Maupassant. Price as usual is as charming as you get, he always relished these roles and it’s one of his more subdued performances of that time, even though at moments it becomes a bit camp. Nancy Kovack plays the love interest, Odette Malotte DuCasse and is perfectly fine. Kovack's career however, never really took off and was finished by the mid ‘70s.

Diary of a Madman is not one of Price’s better films, but it is a fun B-Movie which is shockingly, made by the more classy United Artists, rather than the more B-Movie oriented American International Pictures. It came smack in the middle of Corman’s Poe series, and is an obvious knock-off, but at times it is a solid imitation, despite lacking the real deal’s proto-psychedelia which made them so special.


Ian Schultz

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