Monday, June 9, 2008

Reading Vincent Price’s Diary

Movie • DIARY OF A MADMAN • 1963
I don’t know much about “The Horla,” but it was apparently the inspiration for Diary of a Madman. The Horla by Guy de Maupassant is an 1887 short story written in the style of a journal. I wonder if the studio had to pay the estate of Maupassant for the rights since the premise is so similar?
In Diary of a Madman, a judge, played by Vincent Price acquires the urge to kill. The Horla is the urge, and is given a physical presence, though he cannot be seen. Vincent Price, as always does a remarkable job, but is it my imagination? Is he always a widower in his roles?
Classic horror and mystery fans alone should watch this picture. Anyone else would feel like they are wasting their time. I hate to put it that way, but it has to be said. Most modern fans would think it was silly, but not campy enough to enjoy for that value. The costumes and sets take themselves seriously enough, but there is the sense of a stage. Set details were superb, but bullocks, if I didn't snap out of it when the did a close-up of a trial testament title written in felt-tip marker, and the body written in ball-point pen. Mind you, this was supposed to be in the 1800’s.
I seem to remember seeing this picture a long time ago, but lucky for me, my memory is poor due to slow decomposition, so I can enjoy the same film over and over. The story is relatively simple, so I won’t go into too many details on the plot. There was less murder than I expected, but then again with modern day Sweeney Todd type gore, I’ve become jaded. I was still pleasantly shocked with death of a central character, and the way it was handled. Even more so with the way in which the “evidence” was disposed. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson’s Joker, murder is an art; and indeed he was right.

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