Monday, July 27, 2015

Adrian Paul Week: Masque of the Red Death

A fine hello to all that is reading the blog and welcome to Day 1 of Adrian Paul Week. Initially, as most of you know I do like to get to the humble beginnings of all actors/directors/writers but I do not think my heart could have handled a spin-off of Dynasty known as The Colbys. 19 episodes about entitled wealthy white people holds no interest to me at all. With that in mind, we move on to a film adaptation of an Edgar Allen Poe short story filled with intrigue, thrills and perhaps a murder or two. Now before you all get excited I must warn you up front this a Roger Corman production. The second attempt after the 1964 film starring Vincent Price. This is Masque of the Red Death.

Can't get that Queen song out of my head.

While a virulent plague is laying waste to his kingdom, Prince Prospero (Adrian Paul of Last Rites, War of the Worlds, Dark Shadows, The Owl, Highlander, The Breed and The Void) awakes from a horrific nightmare. Comfort found in the arms of his wife/sister Lucrecia (Tracy Reiner of Die Hard, When Harry Met Sally..., A League of Their Own and Apollo 13) Prospero decides to hold a gathering (NO! NOT A HIGHLANDER REFERENCE!!!), a soiree of his friends for drunken debauchery and ravaging of the women. You know, good times. They will stave off the impeding plague in luxury and hedonism whereas the peasants are left to fend for themselves. His friend Claudio (Jeff Osterhage of The Texas Rangers, Knight Rider, Moonlighting, South of Reno and Dark Before Dawn) grabs up a myriad of birds for the impeding feast as well as all the good looking women in the village, so clearly if you are well-to-do bachelor let Claudio do your shopping.

Mr. Brand? This basement is stinky.

One of the ladies in question is the lovely Juiletta (Clare Hoak of Freddy's Nightmares, Masque of the Red Death, The Terror Within II, Deadly Deception and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York) which the prince has his eyes on. Salivating over young Juiletta, Lucrecia seems almost taken back that her brother/husband is looking for new conquests to be had. The ball is in set to begin when a guest arrives dressed head to toe in red. Does this guest have a sinister motive for attending this shindig? Is there to be a murder on the rise? Will the nobles lose their heads figuratively or literally?

A few comments now on the film. On a technical aspect of the movie, lighting and sound are spot on but the sets look drab and dull. The costumes do not have the same bright and lavish colors they could and frankly the film itself looks like it was shot for a TV movie. The opening credits show some great slow pans around various medieval torture devices as the equipment hangs. I about choked on my Coke Zero as I had to see the late great Sir Patrick McGee in his costume. Camp will do nicely. A few torture scenes occur but are extremely tame and the nudity seems to only serve to show off B-movie actresses Maria Ford, Clare Hoak and Adrian Paul's build.  FYI, you know you have seen too much schlock movies when you can spot and identify a B-movie actress of some ill-repute.

The blood and gore factor is nothing to what I was expecting in a horror thriller but hey that alone is refreshing for me. The gags were remarkably calm but still well shot. I am confused why they felt the need to add the incestual aspect of Prospero and Lucrecia's life when it had no real barring aside from me going ick. Not exactly the taboo if you have no follow through. I do not blame Mr. Paul for this production as so much realize that a young actor had to take the parts readily available for him. If you need a production of this film I recommend the 1964 version with Vincent Price or Hell, even the 1990 version with Frank Stallone. Yeah I just gave kudos to a Frank Stallone movie.

Best Pantene commercial ever!