13 February 2017



This is a brilliant old horror classic, made deliberately in black-and-white to keep costs down, but that really works for it. It's not a straight re-make of the 1939 UNIVERSAL movie of the same name, in which a much younger Vincent Price co-starred with Basil Rathbone, although the plot certainly runs along similar lines. This 1962 movie is much more of a horror film than the 1939 version, for one thing.

Hardly surprising, as it's a collaboration between horror director Roger Corman and one of the most iconic horror actors of all time, Vincent Price. The latter, of course, formed one third of the magnificent horror triumvirate that also included dear old Peter Cushing and the handsome and dashing Christopher Lee, who was the last of the dearly beloved trinity to shuffle off his mortal coil in the summer of 2015.

Vincent Price and Roger Corman were each taking time out from making rheir visually stunning Edgar Allan Poe book-to-film adaptations to make this historical horror film. The pair already had movies like THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM and TALES OF TERROR under their belts and, if you've ever seen these films, you'll probably feel the same as myself and consider them to be richly-coloured horror masterpieces that you can re-visit time and time again without ever getting bored.

TOWER OF LONDON is the story of Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, brilliantly and evilly played by Vincent Price. Richard's overwhelming urge to be King of England comes to the forefront of his malicious nature when his older brother Edward dies in the late 15th century and names another brother, George, to be the Protector of his young son and heir, the golden-haired Prince Edward.
(Remember all the stories told about the Little Princes In The Tower? Well, this is that story, but with the emphasis on the man who put them there.)

This event brings out a murderous anger and covetousness in Richard that leads him to cut a bloody swathe through anyone standing between him and the throne of Mother England. His heinous activities bring out the Macbeth in him however, as the ghosts of everyone he's cut down in their prime come back to haunt him in horrific living nightmares. I certainly hope that folks can really do that when they die. I have a long list of exes who deserve haunting. I'm just saying, that's all.

Richard's wife Anne even does a Lady Macbeth on him as she encourages her greedy hubby to claw his way to the top of the ladder but Richard, who stalks about his castle with his head filled with visions of his own kingly ascent and triumph, needs little encouragement to wrest away from those about him what is rightfully theirs. But his other visions, the nightmarish ones, are getting rapidly worse. It looks suddenly as if the ghosts of the dead won't rest until Richard walks among them as one of them...

There are some rather fun and fascinating torture scenes in the film, by the way, as Vincent Price goes all BLUE PETER on us, showing us what can be achieved by twinning (or should it be tripleting?) a rat in a box with a man's unprotected cranium, and the comely Mistress Shore shows us rather an obscene length of thigh as she's subjected to the horrors of the rack. Oh, behave...!

No-one does 'evil' like Vincent Price does it. His rich distinctive voice, that was even used in Michael Jackson's song 'Thriller' on account of its deliciously spooky timbre, is an obvious strong point of his. But everything else about him as well, from the curving of his sardonic lips to the fiendish raising of an eyebrow, spells out horror genius just as clearly.

He's the perfect actor to play the twisted hump-backed Richard, and he channels Shakespeare's Richard the Third like a boss, proving that he has more than one string to his bow, just like when he made the Shakespeare-centred THEATRE OF BLOOD in 1974. Actually, speaking of strings to his bow, he was a well-respected art historian and critic as well as an actor, and also, believe it or not, a gourmet cook. Cue my Victoria Price story...!

I met Vincent Price's lovely daughter Victoria back in 2015, when she came to Dublin to do a book-signing. She had for sale her Dad's biography but also a massive glossy coffee-table doorstop of a cookbook written by both her Mum and Dad together.

I watched the film they were screening in Vincent Price's honour, THE TOMB OF LIGEIA, and I bought Mr. Price's biography, but I'm very much afraid that I passed on the heavy cookbook. I'm no great shakes(peare!) in the kitchen and anyway, the book was a whopping sixty quid...!

TOWER OF LONDON is out today (February the 13th, 2017) in a Dual Format Edition
thanks to the jolly decent folks at ARROW FILMS and FETCH PUBLICITY.

It's got some terrific extra features on it, including interviews with both Roger Corman and his lovely brother Gene Corman, who produced the movie. There are some gorgeous photos of the two brothers together, back in the day, and don't they both look handsome! I watched the interviews myself and they made me sniffle with nostalgia a little bit. Hell, who am I kidding? I bawled like a baby at the memories they evoked and I promise you that you will too...


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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