As an actor, Vincent Price‘s early roles mostly had him portraying the antagonist of a picture. By the 1950s, Price had developed a comfortable niche in horror films, and was often referred to as the ‘Master of the Macabre‘. In perhaps my favorite of his numerous roles in and out of the horror genre, Vincent Price shines in House of Wax (1953) as Professor Henry Jarrod. A wax figure sculptor in a museum that becomes horribly scarred and disfigured when he is caught in an inferno that destroys his museum and wax sculptures. He survives the blaze and builds a new house of wax but…(Spoiler Alert!)…the wax figures in the new display are all wax-coated people who were murdered and fell victim to Jarrod’s demented plans. I remember being equally frightened and enthralled by this movie when I was much younger.
Vincent Price became one of the most iconic faces and voices in horror movies, and from 1950 to 1975 you would be hard-pressed to find a horror picture that didn’t star him (or Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing – but more on them another time). He starred in many other great genre pictures such as The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) where Price plays the role of the title character who was the victim of a horrible accident that leaves his vocal chords damaged and face horribly disfigured. He wears a rubber mask to hide his true face, and uses a voice box to speak. Phibes orchestrates the murders of the nine Doctors that were responsible for the death of his wife; and patterns the murders after the seven deadly plagues written about in the Christian Bible. In Madhouse (1973), Vincent Price plays actor Paul Toombes who has become synonymous with one of his roles…Dr. Death! After an extended decade long leave from acting, after his girlfriend was murdered and he suffered a nervous breakdown, Toombes returns to acting but soon afterwards everyone that works around him starts getting murdered. Is Toombes the culprit? Or is someone out to frame him? The movie is a tad cheesy, but has good performances from both Vincent Price and his frequent co-star Peter Cushing.
A title that I don’t see disappearing from his biography anytime soon, Vincent Price was always billed as – known as – spoken of – written about – and referred to as the Master of the Macabre.