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The Tomb Of Ligeia Review

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Verden Fell brings his new bride Rowena to the ruined abbey where he lived with his first wife Ligeia. Rowena is persecuted by Ligeia’s evil black cat, and worries that the dead woman is unwilling to let Verden go.

★★★★

The last film in Roger Corman’s early 1960s run of Edgar Allan Poe movies starring Vincent Price, this gets out of the studio-bound claustrophibia of the earlier entries and uses lovely English locations. Shifting the production from Hollywood to Shepperton also means that Price, who is here oddly cast as a supposedly handsome youth but sports the coolest pair of 1821 sunglasses (with sides!) seen in the movies, has to work harder not to be upstaged by a distinguished supporting cast of British thespians rather than the teenage pushovers he was used to.

Scripted by Robert Towne, this is a full-blooded gothic romance in the tempestuous manner, with high-flown dialogue just this side of camp (‘not ten minutes ago I tried to kill a stray cat with a cabbage, and all but made love to the Lady Rowena. I succeeded in squashing the cabbage and badly frightening the lady. If only I could lay open my own brain as easily as I did that vegetable, what rot would be freed from its grey leaves?’) and many opportunities for the fetching if skull-faced heroine to run about lavishly-appointed, cobwebbed corridors in her powder-blue nightie pursued by the villainess in the form of a malicious cat who would have spooked Poe himself.

Towards the end, it gets into truly transgressive material as we discover that Price has been spending his evenings in the embrace of Ligeia’s stiff-armed corpse, but the finale is that old Corman-Poe standby, the out-of-control blaze that destroys an ancient pile in a matter of moments.

A full-blooded gothic romance in the tempestuous manner, with high-flown dialogue just this side of camp.