The Tomb of Ligeia (1964)

The degree to which Roger Corman’s Poe adaptations were faithful to their sources was variable. The Haunted Palace, for example, was actually a Lovecraft adaptation with a Poe title; The Masque of the Red Death encompassed both that story and another one (Hop-Frog); but this one seems to have been a bit more faithful than usual on the whole. Corman was still in England and opted to film Ligeia there, albeit as an actual UK production with a company called Alta Vista (whose sole other IMDB credit is Bava’s Black Sabbath; like Sabre, clearly not serious contenders as Hammer opposition) rather than AIP… and he decided he wanted to use actual locations rather than the usual soundstages, too, which contributes to the film’s distinct look compared with the others. Unfortunately I’m not sure that actually worked to the film’s advantage; something about the whole enterprise feels like a cheap horror film. Which it is, I know, but it feels more like one than the other Poe films did somehow… and somehow the “realism” looks comparatively boring and plain, too, the film is never that interesting to behold (unless the print on the DVD is just a bit ho-hum). Granted, almost anything would’ve looked dull after the let’s-borrow-the-sets-from-a-real-movie extravaganza that was Masque, but even so. Vincent Price is Vincent Price as usual; Elizabeth Shepherd is the female love interest, Lady Rowena, whose attraction to Price’s character is as obscure as his for her; the whole thing comes to a climax that, to be honest, didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Can’t say I share what was apparently Corman’s own enthusiasm for this one.

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