Sunday, August 7, 2011
Tower of London
Review: Tower of London
By DOUG GIBSON
Wow, I absolutely love this low-budget 1962 gothic adaptation of Shakespeare (well, sort of) that stars Vincent Price as the mad wannabe king Richard who goes around slaughtering anyone who gets in his way, all the while dealing with those voices in his head and derisive laughter only he can hear.
It's directed by Roger Corman, who can stretch a budget as far as it can go without snapping. The black and white adds to the grim mood. There are some chilling scenes. A young maiden is tortured to death on a stretching rack. A man is murdered when a cage with a hungry rat is placed over his head. The scenes of a climatic battle that leads to Richard's death are from the 1939 Tower of London, a fine adaptation starring Boris Karloff.
I want to spend a little time on star Vincent Price's performance. A characteristic of Price's is he can be truly evil while keeping his tongue in his cheek. In Tower, he is clearly mad, and carries a confused, pained expression on his face. It's excellent acting. The audience almost wants to feel sorry for a suffering madman doomed to defeat, but he's simply too evil to care about. Although most critics deride the final battle scene where Price is superimposed over stock footage of battles, I like it. It adds to the hallucinatory atmosphere of Richard's madness.
A great film, easy to find on TV or buy. Also stars Michael Pate, Joan Freeman and Sandra Knight. It's fast-paced at 79 minutes. You can watch it in several parts free on YouTube. Part 1 is above.