Vincent Price
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- Vincent Price. A Daughter's Biography, by Victoria Price.

Those who only think of Vincent Price as the deliciously evil star of numerous horror films are in for an enjoyable surprise with Victoria Price's Vincent Price: A Daughter's Biography. The younger Price, through a dedicated search of clippings, letters, and her father's old journals, paints a beautifully rich portrait of a man with personal grace, intellectual fire, and a kind heart. Price reveals everything from odd little tidbits--Vincent was cast in his first London stage production due to his gum-chewing abilities--to profound depths, such as his lifelong love of art and his serious reputation as a student and collector. Price also had a surprisingly good sense of humor, indulging in genially self-deprecating jokes about his own occasionally abysmal movies.

Though this is definitely a loving memoir of her father, Victoria Price is not blinded by her affection for him. She gives an earnest attempt at presenting the whole man--fact-checking and debunking a few cherished family legends and unflinchingly reporting her father's youthful anti-Semitism. (As Price grew more worldly and met some actual Jews, he reversed his position and became an active supporter of B'nai Brith and the Jewish Anti-Defamation League.) But A Daughter's Autobiography's may best value may be as a handbook for actors: through the numerous ups and downs of his career, Price remained a consummate professional. He never stopped working to improve his skills, deliberately sidestepping romantic-lead parts to take on more challenging roles, and was unfailingly generous to his costars. A truly engrossing look at the noble character of one of the silver screen's greatest villains. --Ali Davis

- The Complete Films of Vincent Price. By Lucy Chase Williams.

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER (Donald Newlove) '' honest, often charming survey. Among Citadel's 'The Films of' series, this is one of the best researched (Williams herself is a Yale grad)...''

FANGORIA (Steve Swires) ''...a long overdue tribute. Author LCW was a longtime casual friend, but she doesn't let her obvious affection for the actor compromise her critical judgment. Her book is a heartfelt, yet discerning celebration...''

CULT MOVIES (Michael F. Blake, author of "Lon Chaney: The Man of a Thousand Faces") ''...[takes] the high road by avoiding a fannish approach to the text, which makes the difference between a scholarly, informative book vs. one that is sycophantic...''

VIDEO WATCHDOG (Tim Lucas) ''The long-running 'Films of' series published by Citadel Press enters a new era with Lucy Chase Williams' [book]... juicy color illustrations, painstaking research and valuable excerpts from the subject's own papers... it is a book of considerable scope and depth, while maintaining on every page the senses of humor, sport and dedication to craft that this exceptional actor brought to his every undertaking.''

- Vincent Price. Edited by Gary Svehla.

From the publisher:
This book takes an in-depth look at the film work of one of America's favorite actors, Vincent Price. The book also includes a chapter on his radio work and the stage production of Diversions and Delights. Includes a filmography and television credits as well as over 200 photographs. Book Description
The fourth in the highly acclaimed Midnight Marquee Actors Series covers the film work of horror icon Vincent Price. Many of his film performances are covered, from horror to costume dramas, from comedies to mysteries. Includes a never before published interview with Mr. Price. A must have for Vincent Price fans.

- Eighteen Best Stories of Edgar Allen Poe. Edited and with an introduction by Vincent Price

From the Publisher
A chilling compilation of some of Edgar Allen Poe's best-loved stories, edited by Vincent Price and Chandler Brossard and with an introduction by Vincent Price, including:

The Black Cat - The Fall of the House of Usher - The Masque of the Red Death - The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar - The Premature Burial - Ms. Found in a Bottle - A Tale of the Ragged Mountains - The Sphinx - The Murders in the Rue Morgue - The Tell-Tale Heart - The Gold-Bug - The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether - The Man That Was Used Up - The Balloon Hoax - A Descent Into the Maelstrom - The Purloined Letter - The Pit and The Pendulum - The Cask of Amontillado

The Drawings of Delacroix - This was Vincent Price's thesis while at university in England for his Master of Arts.


- Tales of Terror.

Audio Book Description:
Vincent Price lends his distinctively chilling voice to this spine-tingling collection of tales, spells, and things that go bump in the night. This hair-raising audiotape features classic horror stories by Edgar Allan Poe and John Collier, as well as more practical tales such as ‘How to See Ghosts and Surely Bring Them to You.’ So turn down the lights and turn up the volume . . . if you dare!

- Edgar Allen Poe Audio Collection.

Audio Book Description:
From Publishers Weekly:
Talk about a match made in heaven! It would be hard to imagine more fitting narrators for Poe's classic horror tales than Price and Rathbone, two superb, classically trained actors who became household names starring in movies of suspense and mystery. Poe's work is especially well-suited to audio, and these remastered, archival Caedmon recordings, originally released on phonograph records, showcase the two actors at their finest. Both Price and Rathbone perfectly convey the prototypical Poe narrator trying to come to grips with the horror he has experienced. In "Berenice," Price's voice sounds refined yet deeply troubled as he struggles to explain the insidious, neurotic obsession taking over his life. "The Cask of Amontillado" finds Rathbone chuckling with evil pleasure at the well-planned murder of one who has slighted him. Among the remaining featured tales are "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Raven," "Annabel Lee," "The Black Cat" and "The Pit and the Pendulum." This audio is an absolute must for Poe fans, and high school and college students assigned Poe stories for English class will find the literature takes on new meaning with this recording.

Great American Poetry: 3 Centuries of Classics - Great American Poetry Audio Collection.

Audio Book Description:
From AudioFile These cassettes preserve interesting vocal renditions of 40 well-known poems, mainly of the nineteenth century. The readings were originally released 30 years ago by Caedmon. At that time, of course, they were on LP records, which by virtue of random access, is a far more congenial medium than tape for a poetry anthology. The readers are all excellent, especially the youthful Julie Harris reciting eight Emily Dickinson pieces. In other respects, however, this re-release misfires. Its drawbacks include poor audio quality and inadequate introductions to supply some thematic link among the various poems. E.T. (c)AudioFile.

Suspense - Suspense: The Name of the Beast/The Face is Familiar.

OTR Description:
Suspense was the longest running radion anthology program on the air. Vincent Price guest-starred frequently. On the reverse side is 'The Face is Familiar,' with Jack Benny playing a serious role as a would-be bank thief. Great to hear him break out of the comedic mold.

Thirteen By Corwin - THIRTEEN BY CORWIN

From AudioFile
THIRTEEN BY CORWIN shows us the versatility of Corwin's writing genius for writing radio theater. We are treated to comedy, tragedy, drama and documentary. These recordings vary in quality (they were recorded between 1939 and 1949), but the performances by Elsa Lancaster, Groucho Marx, Vincent Price and Frederic March, to name a few, are superb. The scripting, performances and effects remind us how versatile radio performances can be. Those who savor the spoken word will have a feast with these. M.T.F. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine.

Book Description
Seven full hours on six cassettes -- Norman Corwin's personal favorites from the extant recordings of his works from the Golden Age of Radio in the 1940s. This is truly one of the great classic collections of OTR (Old-Time Radio)! A galaxy of stars includes Groucho Marx, Frederic March, Elsa Lanchester, Robert Benchley, Vincent Price, Henry Morgan and many more, in pieces that range from satirical comedy through whimsical fantasy, travelogue, and romance, to Corwin's amazingly powerful, inspiring drama. Several programs deal with aspects of the World War II.


(The dozens of Price VHS tapes are at Price Videos)

- The Long Night. 1947
Henry Fonda is Joe Adams, a man pinned inside his third floor apartment after gunning down a mysterious magician Vincent price. Joe's fractured memories are told in an intricate web of flashbacks that reconstruct the events leading up to the murder. Barbara Bel Geddes plays the third corner of the tragic, complicated and mesmerizing love triangle. Exceedingly mody and atmospheric direction by the masterful Anatole Litvak ("The Snake Pit," "Sorry Wrong Number"). The DVD is a pristine transfer made from a 35 MM nitrate negative. Bonus material includes a gallery of photos and artwork as well as excerpts from Marcel Carne's Le Jour se Leve. (Full Frame, B&W, 68 minutes, Not Rated)

- Abbott and Costello Meet Frankensein. 1948 Price has only one line, invisibly, at the end of the film
Universal Pictures made a great deal of money from its monster movies in the 1930s. In the early '40s, the burlesque team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello kept the studio's coffers full. When the two franchises were combined in 1948, the result was another windfall--despite the apparent oil-and-water mix of subject matter. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was the first of these summit meetings, although the title is a misnomer. Actually, Bud and Lou bump into most of the Universal heavy-hitters, including Count Dracula (played by Béla Lugosi himself), the Wolfman (Lon Chaney Jr.), and the Frankenstein monster (veteran monster Glenn Strange). There's even a token appearance by the Invisible Man, whose disembodied voice is recognizable as that of Vincent Price. Sure enough, the film is funny, especially since it gives the portly Costello multiple opportunities to do his wide-eyed, quivering scaredy-cat routine. Audiences ate it up, and in future installments Bud and Lou would run into Boris Karloff, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Invisible Man, and the Mummy. But the first was the best.

- The Ten Commandments, 1956 essential video
Legendary silent film director Cecil B. DeMille didn't much alter the way he made movies after sound came in, and this 1956 biblical drama is proof of that. While graced with such 1950s niceties as VistaVision and Technicolor, The Ten Commandments (DeMille had already filmed an earlier version in 1923) has an anachronistic, impassioned style that finds lead actors Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner expressively posing while hundreds of extras writhe either in the presence of God's power or from orgiastic heat. DeMille, as always, plays both sides of the fence as far as sin goes, surrounding Heston's Moses with worshipful music and heavenly special effects while also making the sexy action around the cult of the Golden Calf look like fun. You have to see The Ten Commandments to understand its peculiar resonance as an old-new movie, complete with several still-impressive effects such as the parting of the Red Sea. --Tom Keogh

- The Fly (1958)/The Return of the Fly (1959)

''Help me! Help me!'' essential video
The plot device is so damned great that it simply had to be revisited: a scientist invents a device that transmits matter by disintegrating it in one chamber and reintegrating it in another. When he attempts to transmit his own body, he accidentally allows a fly into the chamber, and the resulting man-insect hybrid runs rampant across the Canadian countryside. Philippe, the son of that ill-fated scientist, is told the family history by a benevolent uncle (an oddly prim Vincent Price); possessed with the scientific will-to-know, he becomes determined to re-create his father's experiments. The legendarily silly costuming of the original Fly returns, and with it, the perplexing logic of transmogrification--it becomes difficult to decipher which of the man-insect hybrids we're meant to understand as possessing Phillipe's agency. The film is hampered by the lack of a strong female lead, and by performances by all principals that are disappointingly modern in their clear motivation and restraint. Almost normal--even by modern standards--Return of the Fly represents an interesting bridging piece between the arty, abstract, symbolist sci-fi aesthetic of the early '50s and the naturalist, highly mimetic, realist style that quickly came to dominate the genre. --Miles Bethany

- The Tingler(1959) essential video
I enjoy hearing about the gimmicks William Castle used in his horror films. For "The Tingler" every few seats in the theater were rigged to vibrate at certain times so that its unlucky occupent would feel a tingling sensation and think they were being attacked by The Tingler! (This was called Percepto.) There's also one scene with a lot of bright-red blood (the rest of the picture is in black and white). And near the end of the movie "The Tingler" finally attacks YOU - the audience! - and you must listen to Vincent Price's instructions or you'll never be rid of it! The DVD includes a nice little 15-minute or so behind-the-scenes look at the movie, featuring Darryl Hickman (Dave). His recollections of William Castle and the plastic Tingler creature used in the movie are especially funny. There's also the drive-in version of the narration in the scene where you are attacked by The Tingler. And the trailer is fun to watch. If you like this, go out and get "13 Ghosts" and "House on Haunted Hill" - and pray that they don't try to remake any more of these movies!

- The House on Haunted Hill (1959)

''She's so amusing.'' essential video
William Castle's gimmick-laden comic thriller is not so much a horror movie as a fairground funhouse come to life. Vincent Price stars as a deliciously silky millionaire married to a greedy gold digger (Carol Ohmart) who refuses to divorce him. When he turns his wife's idea for a haunted-house party into a contest--$10,000 to whoever will spend the night in "the only truly haunted house in the world"--it seems he may have found an alternative to divorce. Five strangers gather to test their stamina, Price hands each of them delightfully twisted party favors (loaded handguns, delivered in their own tiny coffins), and the spook show begins. Blood drips from the ceiling, zombielike apparitions float through rooms, severed heads and skeletons suddenly appear, and then a guest is found hanging in the stairwell. Full of screams and things that go bump in the night, House on Haunted Hill isn't particularly scary and often makes little sense, but, like a Halloween haunted house, the spectacle of spook-show clichés is quite entertaining, and Price makes a sardonic master of ceremonies. The original theatrical presentations featured a typically outrageous Castle-engineered gimmick: Emergo, which was nothing more than a skeleton that appeared to fly out of the screen and over the audience on a guide wire. --Sean Axmaker

- The Bat (1959)

''Oh, no, sir, you can't pin this on me! I'm not the Bat! I've never killed! I couldn't kill! I won't take the rap for this!'' essential video
In The Bat, top-billed Vincent Price brings his silky, sinister elegance to the second remake of the hoary "old dark house" stage play. But the real stars of the show are Agnes Moorehead, as an eccentric mystery writer who decides to pull off the million-dollar bank heist, and the steel-clawed killer known only as "The Bat." Price's devious doctor is but one of a rogues' gallery of suspects that include a Johnny-on-the-spot police detective, a chauffeur turned butler (John SUtton) with a checkered past, and a housekeeper with echoes of Rebecca's Mrs. Danvers. Moorehead is a kick as the spirited author, and makes the most of her expanded role, but fans of the early film productions (1926's The Bat and 1930's The Bat Whispers, both directed by Roland West) will be less forgiving of other changes, especially writer-director Crane Wilbur's decision to draw the story out over a succession of nights. Wilbur loses the tension and claustrophobia of the originals with a rambling pace and handsome but airy photography, more appropriate to an episode of Perry Mason. Moorehead and Price bring a little spirit to the otherwise bland film, but not quite enough. --Sean Axmaker

- The Fall of the House of Usher, 1960 essential video
Vincent Price brings a theatrical flourish to the role of Roderick Usher, a brooding nobleman haunted by the dry rot of madness in his family tree. This being Poe, there's a history of family madness and melancholia, a premature burial, and a sense of doom hanging over this gloomy, crumbling mansion. Roger Corman sold stingy AIP pictures on the concept by claiming "The house is the monster," or so goes the oft-told story. True or not, Corman (with the help of his brilliant art director Daniel Haller and legendary cinematographer Floyd Crosby) creates an exaggerated sense of isolation and claustrophobia with the sunless forest and funereal fog that holds the house and its inhabitants prisoner in a land of the dead. It doesn't quite look real (some of the effects are downright phony, notably the apocalyptic climax), and none of the costars can hold a candle to Price's elegant, haunted performance (often speaking in no more than a stage whisper), but it's a triumph of expressionism on a budget. Shot in rich, vivid color and CinemaScope, from a literate script by genre master Richard Matheson, this is stylish gothic horror in a melancholy key. It was such a success that Corman reunited his core group of collaborators for the follow-up The Pit and the Pendulum the very next year. Corman's "Poe Cycle" was born.

MGM's widescreen disc also features commentary by director-producer Corman, his first-ever such contribution. --Sean Axmaker

- The Pit and the Pendulum, 1961 essential video
The Fall of the House of Usher's success in 1960 spurred American International Pictures to quickly launch another production based on an Edgar Allan Poe story. While producer-director Roger Corman had hoped to next adapt "The Masque of the Red Death" (which wasn't produced until 1964), Pit and the Pendulum (the onscreen title) became the second in AIP's long-running Poe series. Set in post-Inquisition Spain, the film stars John Kerr as a young Englishman who travels to the seaside castle of his brother-in-law (Vincent Price) to uncover the circumstances behind the death of his sister (a dubbed Barbara Steele). Price is tormented by memories of his mother's premature burial by his inquisitor father (also Price) and fears that this sadistic legacy has contributed to Steele's demise. Furthermore, he believes that Steele was also buried alive--a belief compounded by the mysterious destruction of her room, and the sound of her harpsichord playing in the night...

Structured almost identically to Usher, Richard Matheson's script fleshes out the brief original text with a fast-paced and twist-filled plot that never loses sight of the psychological themes of Poe's work. It also provides Price with the richest of his many AIP/Poe roles, a sympathetic, deeply emotional man who is unhinged by the sins of his father. Corman's direction is equally driven and fluid, and features some impressive quasi-psychedelic visuals in the tense climax. Also noteworthy is art director's Daniel Haller's impressive design of the title set piece. MGM's widescreen DVD features commentary by Corman, which focuses primarily on the film's technical aspects. Also included is the original trailer and a prologue (shot by Norma Rae producer Tamara Asseyev) featuring costar Luana Anders, which was added to fill out the film's 1968 television broadcast. --Paul Gaita

- Tales of Terror, 1962 essential video
When you've got Vincent Price, Basil Rathbone, and Peter Lorre all in the same movie, how can you go wrong? Tales of Terror is a trio of Edgar Allen Poe stories, starring three of horror's greats and produced and directed by the immortal Roger Corman. The first story, "Morella," involves a girl (Debra Paget) who returns to her isolated, spooky family home to see her estranged father (Price) for the first time in 26 years. He's let the housekeeping slide a bit--cobwebs abound and, oh, yes, his dead wife is still upstairs. Peter Lorre joins the fun for "The Black Cat," a piece with comic flavor that allows Price to show his rarely seen silly side, and then it's Basil Rathbone's turn to be creepy in "The Case of M. Valdemar," the tale of a mesmerist who decides to experiment with the unknown (bad idea). The movie is well paced, and makes good use of comedy without undercutting its chills. It's a rare treat to see this many masters of the genre working together and so clearly enjoying themselves. Don't miss it. --Ali Davis

- War Gods of the Deep (1965) essential video
Vincent Price and Tab Hunter star in this entertainingly silly adventure. Very, very loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe's "City in the Sea," War-Gods of the Deep starts off just right, with a stormy night and a huge old mansion by the sea. Before you know it, everyone is charging through secret passages and swimming around in enormous diving helmets. The plot zips along nicely, and the cast of pros knows just what to do with it. By this point in his career, Vincent Price could do tragic brooding menace with both hands tied behind his back, but he still puts his all into it like a champ. David Tomlinson also does a great job as half of a comic relief team--the other half being an uncredited chicken. This may not be a story for the ages, but it's not a bad way to spend an evening. -Ali Davis

- Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965) essential video
Vincent Price is my favorite actor, and he is what makes this silly AIP "teen" movie worth watching. It is the story of Dr. Goldfoot (Price) and his diabolical plan to take over the world by having all of the wealthy men on the planet marry his robot bombshells. He will have the robot "bikini women" sign over all of the wealth to him, and voila...the world!

There are some great moments featuring the beach blanket stars of the day, including Frankie Avalon, and good ol Annette makes a cameo appearance. The chase scene at the end of the film is a classic!

The DVD transfer is great, and the film quality makes this nice to watch. Includes the Midnite Movies standard bonus of the theatrical trailer. To sum it up, this is a silly, silly movie. Don't expect anything profound and I think you'll be surprised at what fun it is to watch.

- The Jackals, 1966 essential video
This western, made 1966 in South Afrika, is a very strange remake of YELLOW SKY (1948). It reminds me a little bit of two Monte Hellman western (THE SHOOTING and RIDE IN THE WIRLWIND) made around the same time. Major interest is Vincent Price as an old gold digger, who lives with his granddaughter in the desert and gets in trouble with a gang of bank robbers. If you're an admirer of Vincent, you have to see this!

The DVD quality is okay for a rare film like this (...). Colors are a bit faded red. The main problem is, that the film isn't complete: It runs only 93 minutes, than the correct (and on the cover mentioned) 105 minutes! But probably we'll never get the chance to see it better!

- Here Comes Peter Cottontail (TV) 1971

Have you ever wished for a classic Easter special to show your kids? Here Comes Peter Cottontail is a Rankin & Bass production that bears a marked similarity to the beloved Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. Narrator Seymour S. Sassafrass, voiced and sung by Danny Kaye, takes young viewers on a tour of the mythical April Valley and relates the story of how Peter Cottontail almost failed in his quest to become Chief Easter Bunny. Sassafrass peers into his magic egg, and viewers are introduced to Peter Cottontail--a spunky, ingenious young rabbit who is boastful, is prone to fibbing, and lacks a sense of responsibility. In order to become Chief Easter Bunny, Peter Cottontail must defeat the evil Irontail in a contest to deliver the most eggs on Easter Sunday. Through his trials, Peter Cottontail discovers the value of ingenuity, the importance of placing duty before pleasure, and the folly of self-conceit. Here Comes Peter Cottontail features catchy songs, great 1970s stop-motion animation, and a fun Easter tale. Parents will find themselves reminiscing over holidays gone by or wondering how they missed this show in their own childhood. The 2 and up crowd will be begging for another showing long after the Easter candy is a distant memory. --Tami Horiuchi

- The Abominable Dr. Phibes- 1971

This unusually beautiful horror classic features Vincent Price in the title role of Dr. Anton Phibes, a genius who specializes in organ music, theology, and concocting bizarre deaths for anyone who wrongs him. Discovering why is half the fun, so for now let's just say that Phibes is a little mad and very, very angry. With his assistant, the lovely, silent Vulnavia, Phibes begins cutting a gory swath through London's medical community, with the dogged Inspector Trout hot on his tail. Phibes contains many pleasures--exquisite art direction and a dark sense of humor among them--but the real treat is in watching an old pro like Price at work. Whether he's playing his organ, staring down a victim, or drinking through his neck, Price is at the top of his game. He mixes dark menace with wry comic touches, revealing both Phibes's maniacal obsession and offhanded confidence in his own genius. Settle in for an evening of elegant gore and if an attractive, mute deliverywoman comes to the door, whatever you do--don't answer! --Ali Davis

- Dr. Phibes Rises Again - 1972

The title says it all--the abominable Dr. Phibes is back and as ruthless as ever. No longer content with merely avenging his wife's death, Phibes is now bent on her resurrection. Phibes and his mute assistant, Vulnavia, set off for Egypt, meting out bizarrely elaborate deaths--everything from clockwork snakes to a particularly severe exfoliation treatment--to all who stand in their way. This time Phibes has two competitors to race against, the trusty Inspector Trout and the renowned archaeologist Biederbeck, who has his own reasons for chasing Phibes. Like its predecessor, Dr. Phibes Rises Again adds dark wit and imaginative art direction to the mix. Vincent Price is once again in high form, playing his organ with swooping arms and adding dry comic touches with a delicately cocked eyebrow. A worthy successor to the classic original. --Ali Davis

- Theatre of Blood- 1973

If your sense of humor is even moderately twisted, you'll savor this tasty course of well-cooked ham. Directed with delectable British wit by Douglas Hickox, the comedy is decidedly dark when Vincent Price--as effete has-been thespian Richard Lionheart--wreaks poetic justice upon the snobby critics who panned his performances and drove him to a failed attempt at suicide. Reciting his poor reviews and staging murders inspired by Shakespearean tragedies, the actor and his Dickensian coterie of accomplices (including Diane Rigg, sexy as ever) dispatch their victims with shocking ingenuity, and by the time Lionheart reenacts Titus Andronicus by gorging one dog-loving critic (the hilariously poofy Robert Morley) on toy-poodle stew, Theatre of Blood reaches giddy heights of outrageous vengeance. It's all in good fun, of course, and the film's esteemed British cast plays it to the hilt, none better than Price in one of his most entertaining roles. --Jeff Shannon

- Edward Scissorhands - 1990

Edward Scissorhands achieves the nearly impossible feat of capturing the delicate flavor of a fable or fairy tale in a live-action movie. The story follows a young man named Edward (Johnny Depp), who was created by an inventor (Vincent Price, in one of his last roles) who died before he could give the poor creature a pair of human hands. Edward lives alone in a ruined Gothic castle that just happens to be perched above a pastel-colored suburb inhabited by breadwinning husbands and frustrated housewives straight out of the 1950s. One day, Peg (Dianne Wiest), the local Avon lady, comes calling. Finding Edward alone, she kindly invites him to come home with her, where she hopes to help him with his pasty complexion and those nasty nicks he's given himself with his razor-sharp fingers. Soon Edward's skill with topiary sculpture and hair design make him popular in the neighborhood--but the mood turns just as swiftly against the outsider when he starts to feel his own desires, particularly for Peg's daughter Kim (Winona Ryder). Most of director Tim Burton's movies (such as Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman) are visual spectacles with elements of fantasy, but Edward Scissorhands is more tender and personal than the others. Edward's wild black hair is much like Burton's, suggesting that the character represents the director's own feelings of estrangement and co-option. Johnny Depp, making his first successful leap from TV to film, captures Edward's childlike vulnerability even while his physical posture evokes horror icons like the vampire in Nosferatu and the sleepwalker in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Classic horror films, at their heart, feel a deep sympathy for the monsters they portray; simply and affectingly, Edward Scissorhands lays that heart bare. --Bret Fetzer

- Backtrack - 1991

Dennis Hopper directed, as well as acted in, this moody mess from 1989, which was barely seen for a couple of years until getting a boost from the rising fame of its star, Jodie Foster. Looking startlingly young, Foster plays a conceptual artist who witnesses a mob hit, thus becoming a target herself for an assassin (Hopper). But instead of killing her, Hopper's killer falls in love, demonstrating his passion by stalking her at a distance, "owning" her every move and keeping her in exile from ordinary life. The resulting isolation squeezes Foster's creative spirit, forcing her to confront doubt and self-loathing--everything that artists suffer as the price for self-expression. Deeply self-conscious, with a calculatingly meditative tone that becomes inseparable from Hopper's tenacious voyeurism (the film's most obvious commercial hook--Foster's nude scene--is almost prayerful in its pathology), Backtrack wants to be a confessional fable about the artistic process. Instead, it's a muted yet rambling confession about the sinner inside a filmmaker, which would be great if Backtrack were, say, Rear Window. But it surely isn't. --Tom Keogh

This page last updated on March 10, 2002.

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