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The Fall of the House of Usher (Midnite Movies)

92 customer reviews

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(Jun 05, 2001)
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Frequently Bought Together

  • The Fall of the House of Usher (Midnite Movies)
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  • Vincent Price 5 Movie Gift Box: Limited Series (The Raven / The Pit and the Pendulum / Madhouse / Tales Of Terror / The Masque of the Red Death)
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  • The Tomb of Ligeia / An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe (Midnite Movies Double Feature)
Total price: $51.12
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Editorial Reviews

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

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Vincent Price, Mark Damon, Myrna Fahey, Harry Ellerbe, David Andar
  • Directors: Roger Corman
  • Writers: Edgar Allan Poe, Richard Matheson
  • Producers: Roger Corman, James H. Nicholson
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MGM
  • DVD Release Date: June 5, 2001
  • Run Time: 79 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005AUK0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,102 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Fall of the House of Usher (Midnite Movies)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Rod Labbe on February 8, 2002
Format: DVD
In the 1960's, when I was a kid, the NUMBER ONE horror star was definitely Vincent Price! True, he started scaring us out of our shorts in the 50's, what with HOUSE OF WAX, THE FLY, THE TINGLER, and (best of all, in my humble), HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL. But it wasn't until he joined forces with American International Pictures and Director/Producer Roger Corman that Vinnie carved his niche as a true American horror icon! THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER started it all, the first in what's come to be known as "the Poe cycle." Released on tape in the mid 1980's (an inferior transfer), HOUSE OF USHER (its title, once the credits roll) has never looked better than on this gorgeous DVD. Colors are rich, sound is crystal clear, really, it's like seeing the film in a movie theater! And Vinnie, oh, Vinnie, he's in fine form here as the tragic Roderick Usher. Plagued by an over-heightening of the senses, he can't bear to hear loud noises or smell anything stronger than the most delicate perfume (yet, it doesn't prevent him from strumming a few off key notes on his mandolin!), Roderick is a tragic figure indeed. And what an imposing sight! Breathtaking, even! This is Vincent Price's most startling and compelling characterization--snow white hair, blue eyes, pale complexion, and that oh-so-very proper way of speaking and acting. I loved Hammer Films, with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, but Vincent Price was somebody we could call our our own, a true national treasure! Corman's direction is solid, and he makes the most of his limited cast (only 4 people) and budget--but everything looks so luxurious and expensive! You've got to remember that AIP was notorious for cranking out cheapjack black and white quickies for the juvie market--so HOUSE OF USHER was an utterly drastic change of pace for them.Read more ›
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Christoph Berner on March 24, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
By far the best of all Vincent Price / Roger Corman adaptions of the works of Edgar Allan Poe, this is really a horror film that should be regarded as equal to the 30`s classic horror movies like Dracula or Frankenstein (it certainly is scarier than watching Karloff wander around in front of painted backdrops). In fact, "House Of Usher" is not only a straight thriller, it is also a very poetic movie, it has a good script, a haunting score (especially in the crypt sequence) and a very well crafted set design (just watch Corman`s opulent use of colors). If the climax is somewhat hurried it is more than made up by the frightening atmosphere of the film. When I watched it as a child in the early eighties, it was one of the few old chillers that really scared me to death ..... and it will certainly entertain everyone who enjoys to watch really good vintage horror thrillers (Vincent Price`s morbid characterization of Roderick Usher is worth a few shocks alone).
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By cookieman108 on April 26, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Director Roger Corman and AIP had great success relating the tales of Edgar Allan Poe to the screen, and it all started here with The Fall of the House of Usher (1960). While not always exactly faithful to the source material (how many are?), the films sure are fun to watch. House of Usher stars Vincent Price as Roderick Usher, Myrna Fahey (who once dated Joe DiMaggio and received a death threat because a deranged fan couldn't stand to see DiMaggio with anyone other than Marilyn Monroe) as his sister Madeline Usher, Mark Damon as her fiancé Philip Winthrop, and Harry Ellerbe as Bristol, the butler. Scripted by famed horror/fantasy/sci-fi writer Richard Matheson, who also worked on the later Corman/Poe/AIP films like Pit and the Pendulum (1961), Tales of Terror (1962), and The Raven (1963), The Fall of the House of Usher marked new ground for AIP and Corman. Previously, the studio was content in putting out two black and white films at the same time for minimal cost, Corman convinced the studio heads to take the money to make two of those films and let him use it to make one film in color, and the result, this film, turned out to be a huge box office draw in 1960.

Anyway, the film starts off with Philip riding up to a massive, dark, and as we find out later, crumbly house of Usher. The grounds around the house show no signs of life, but only death and decay. The house actually looks a lot like the creepy house you always see that the beginning of those old Scooby Doo cartoons. Seems he's come to see about his fiancée Madeline, as they had met in Boston where they both lived, and she has since returned home.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 11, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
With the possible exception of "The Masque of the Red Death," this is probably Corman's best Poe film. Like all of the Poe films, it isn't completely true to the actual story (Like "The Haunted Palace" -- which wasn't even a Poe story). However, the playful renditions aren't ones that will leave Poe fans crying foul, but rather appreciating an expanded adaption which leaves a story once valuable only in words at least acceptable for film.
Price plays Roderick Usher, a hauntingly pale and eccentric artist with a strange ailment, with great class. A little indulgent sometimes, like Price always was, but always charming and believable. I only regret that there wasn't more play with Usher's sensitivity for the senses, and that an actual lute player hadn't provided a soundtrack, instead of Price's awful attempts to portray himself as a great musical composer while obviously having no clue how to play the instrument.
This film is most valuable for its imagery and its "special effects" however. The decayed and "misty" settings are fantastic, and so are the paintings of the Usher family and the mansion itself, which seems to have been used in several films. For the burning scene, Corman actually rushed over to film a burning house that had been reported over the radio. A low-budget masterpiece!
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