Friday, November 23, 2018

Twice Told Tales (1963)

It was inevitable AIP's hugely popular series of Edgar Allen Poe adaptations, directed by Roger Corman and mainly starring Vincent Price, would spawn imitators.  Twice Told Tales is one of a pair of such movies made by Admiral Pictures in 1963.  Both made their intent clear by starring erstwhile AIP/Poe star Vincent Price, whose output was quite prolific around this time.  While the other of these two films, Diary of a Madman, is very loosely based on a Guy de Maupassant story, The Horla, Twice Told Tales seems to want to emulate Corman's 1962 Poe anthology film, Tales of Terror.   Instead of Poe, it takes its inspiration from Nathaniel Hawthorn, adapting three of his stories into an anthology film.  (Interestingly, Price had previously appeared in a  1940s feature length adaptation of one of these stories: House of the Seven Gables).  As the trailer indicates, production values for the film appear even more modest than those afforded by AIP for their Poe series.  The miniatures work, in particular, is very poor.  (This is also true of Diary of a Madman, whose climactic inferno is hugely underwhelming).

Admiral Pictures itself was, in effect, a pseudonym for Robert E Kent productions, Kent being a prolific B-movie produce, active from the late fifties and throughout the sixties, turning out low budget pictures in a variety of genres.  The adoption of the 'Admiral Pictures' name might well have been down to the fact that Kent saw his two Vincent Price movies as more 'prestigious' productions.  However, the fact, following their releases, he reverted to producing B westerns under his own name again, indicates that they were less successful than he had hoped for.  Indeed, both are far lesser known than Price's AIP productions from the same period and Twice Told Tales, in particular, has pretty much vanished from sight.  (Diary of a Madman, by contrast, turned up several times in the BBC's late night schedules during the 1990s).  Quite apart from their modest production values, both of the Admiral horror films are hampered by Kent's employment of two of his regular roster of directors to take charge of them.  Both Sidney Salkow and Reginald LeBorg (who directed Twice Told Tales and Diary of a Madman, respectively), were effectively journeymen directors who reliably delivered workmanlike B-movies, never really displaying any of the visual flair that Roger Corman (who likewise had a long career in B-movies) brought to the POe series.



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