Friday, November 14, 2008

Diary of a Madman (1963)

Directed by:
Reginald Le Borg

Based on a Guy de Maupassant story, this one opens with a direct quote from the source, then cuts to a funeral on an obvious set and a will reading for Simon Cordier (Vincent Price), who narrates his own story from his diary. He's a 19th-Century magistrate who becomes possessed by "The Horla" (voiced by Joseph Ruskin), an invisible evil spirit who talks to him, laughs, moves furniture around and compels him to kill. When his eyes glow blue, he's turned into a zombie-like killer who can't remember what he's done the next day. This patently silly Price vehicle has a little too much ranting, raving and extremely corny dialogue, many in the supporting cast are stiff and lifeless, the whole thing is very set bound and stagy and the period detail is minimal and unconvincing. Still, it is somewhat unique among the Price cannon and offers up lots of entertainment for horror fans. Aside from Price's always-fun camp theatrics, the inventive and colorful photography (the print reviewed from Wood Knapp - even in the EP mode VHS version - is in excellent condition) and Nancy Kovack's bright presence in a supporting role as a sexy gold digger are other pluses. Also with Chris Warfield, Elaine Devry, Ian Wolfe, Nelson Olmsted, Harvey Stephens and Don Brodie.


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