The evil Prince Prospero is riding through the Catania village when he sees that the peasants are dying of Red Death plague. Prospero asks to burn down the village and he is offended by the villagers Gino and his father-in-law Ludovico. He decides to kill them, but Gino's wife, the young and beautiful Francesca, begs for the lives of her husband and her father and Prospero brings them alive to his castle expecting to corrupt Francesca. Propero worships Satan and invites his noble friends to stay in his castle that is a shelter of depravity against the plague. When Prospero invites his guests to attend a masked ball, he sees a red hooded stranger and he believes that Satan himself has attended his party. But soon he learns who his mysterious guest is. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I can't believe Roger Corman directed this masterpiece!
For those of you who are fans of director Roger Corman's classic 50s sci-fi
films like ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS, IT CONQUERED THE WORLD, or THE WASP
WOMAN, you are going to be surprised that this is the same man who directed
MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH. Superbly directed and beautifully composed, MASQUE
is the first and best of Corman's Poe films of the 1960's.
Prince Prospero (played with just enough venom by Vincent Price) is an evil
tyrant who hates his citizens and thinks nothing of burning their village to
the ground. Holding a weekend get-together for his noble acquaintances, he
discovers that the Red Death has manifested itself in the village around his
castle. He kidnaps the beautiful Francesca (the wonderful Jane Asher), her
lover Gino, and her father and keeps them in the castle with him. Prospero
is a Satan worshipper as well and forces the princess, Juliana, to brand
herself with an upside-down cross and sics his falcon on her when he feels
like it. All the while, the Red Death decimates the land outside the castle
and eventually makes its grand entrance during a masque.
Corman has certainly matured over the years. His filmmaking techniques are
no longer shoestring or cheap. Here, it is obvious that he has developed a
taste for color, atmosphere, tone, and lighting. MASQUE features his best
work as a director and is only rivalled, in my opinion, by TALES OF TERROR,
a later Poe anthology. Vincent Price proves once again why he has won the
hearts of genre fans everywhere. I can only compare his performance here to
that in HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, only better. Jane Asher does a splendid job
here, but Hazel Court, Hammer's resident scream queen, has little to do here
as Juliana. The final images of the film set during the masque are
breathtaking and will stun those expecting cheap gothic thrills a la THE
UNDEAD, an earlier Corman work.
MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH is very deserving of a new VHS/DVD release. Fans of
Price or Corman should definitely seek this out, as it is probably both
mens' greatest work. Highly recommended.
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