Friday, May 27, 2011

THE VINCENTACULAR VINCENTENNIAL

Today marks the 100th anniversary of Vincent Price’s birth! May has been Vincent Price month in St. Louis, Missouri, the birth place of the master of macabre. I was fortunate to attend a few events of the aptly named Vincentennial.

But first, I want to ramble about why I’m a Vincent Price fan.

I’m not sure when or how I discovered Vincent Price, but it was most certainly from television in the 1970’s. Vincent seemed to show up everywhere on the tube and I quickly fell under his spell of funnies and frights. I’ve always liked my horror mixed with humor and he was tops in that department. From his appearances on Hollywood Squares, surprise cameos on variety shows, the creepy guy on Brady Bunch, to one of my favorite guests on The Muppet Show. I didn’t see too many of his films until the late 70’s or early 80’s when we got cable TV. That’s when my appreciation really kicked into high gear. He was such an amazing actor and it’s hard to pick a favorite VP film. For me, it’s probably House on Haunted Hill. It was a sad day when the world lost Vincent in 1993 just a few days before Halloween. He continues to live on through his films, his art books, cookbooks and especially through events like Vincentennial.

Even though, I only had a small sampling of Vincentennial in St. Louis this past weekend. I can say the first lady and I had a most excellent time!

The Vincentennial is the brainchild of St. Louis native Tom Stockman and big props to Tom and his crew for putting on such a memorable event. The Vincentennial is one part film festival, one part art gallery, one part museum and one part horror convention. We jumped in with a showing of the classic William Castle flick, The Tingler, at the historic Hi-Pointe Theatre.

It was fun seeing this movie with an audience complete with “scare the audience” gimmicks that tried to recapture Castle’s Percepto. Yes, for a moment the Tingler was loose in the theater!

The next day we visited Star Clipper Comics to view Vincent Price Presents, an art gallery featuring many talented artists from St. Louis paying tribute to Vincent. I neglected to take photos, but you can see a sampling at We Are Movie Geeks.

Afterwards, we spent some time at the Sheldon Art Galleries to view an amazing collection of Vincent Price artifacts and memorabilia. On display is his baby book, personal letters (one to Evie Karloff in condolences to the passing of Boris on Holiday Inn stationary), photographs, toys & models, movie posters and even two life-size Price characters. Check out The Sounds of Vincent Price Blog for an excellent tour video of this museum display.


Dr. Phibes looks too life like and kinda gave me the heebie-jeebies. The Prof. Jarrod figure from House of Wax is wearing the original screen used costume from the 1953 film!

Later that night we returned to the Hi-Pointe for a viewing of The Tomb of Ligeia.


This was Roger Corman’s last Edgar Allen Poe film with Vincent Price and it was really a treat to see. Especially since I had never seen the whole film. Back when I was a kid, I could never sit through it. The gothic romance thing just wasn’t exciting to a ten year old. Before the film, Roger Corman showed up in-person and talked about his films with Vincent Price.


It was an excellent interview by Rondo award winning Tim Lucas, editor of Video Watchdog. DownRightCreepy.com posted the entire interview in eight parts. Watch the first part here and follow the links on YouTube for the rest of the interview. I now have a new fondness for The Tomb of Ligeia and now I want a pair of those cool sun glasses Vincent wears. Did he steal those from the Invisible Man?

(Oops, sorry to interrupt this post, but I just took a break and walked outside. The neighbors cat was staring at me and showing his best impression of the movie poster.)

After the movie, there was a nice video greeting from Elizabeth Shepherd who plays Lady Rowena. She was scheduled to be at the showing, but had a conflict with a stage play she is starring in. It was a perfect ending to the evening.

Today, I scribbled Vincent as Vernon Fell for a simple tribute.

He kinda looks more like Willy Wonka, but I wanted to draw something for today's festivities.

Here’s some more photos of the Hi-Pointe.






We had a neato cool weekend celebrating Vincent’s 100th. Hey, I even caught up with some blogger pals like Karswell, and Max the Drunken Severed Head.

If you’re in St. Louis today, be sure to catch The Vincent Price Legacy: Reflections From a Daughter with Victoria Price tonight at 7:00. Tomorrow night at 8:30 is an outdoor screening of Edward Scissorhands. The display at the Sheldon Art Galleries goes on until Aug. 6.

One last thing. I found this 1954 St. Louis Studio ad from an old St. Louis Magazine called Prom. It advertises Portraits by Vincent Price. Maybe some of the VP experts will know about this. Did this studio have a gallery of some of VP's photographs?


Now I'm off to watch some Vincent Price movies. See you at the next Vincentennial in a hundred years!

6 comments:

John Rozum said...

I wish I could have been there. Go read my Vincent Price post that I put up last night and you'll see why I was so tickled with deja vu when I read yours.

Come to think of it, I don't think anyone has ever seen you and I at the same time. Hmmm.

alleyesandears said...

Great writeup, Mayor! Tomb of Ligeia is one of my favorites for the sheer beauty of it. Artistically, it's a gorgeous movie. And he was so fabulously strange and great in it.

For sheer humor and horror mixed though, it's a toss-up for me between Theater of Blood and Phibes.

Karswell said...

It was cool to see you guys, Todd-- STL always gets a little bit cooler when the Mayor of Coolville arrives, haha! Ligeia was amazing on the big screen, I just wish I could've got Corman to sign my poster. Great post!

PS: So Max was here in STL too? I totally missed him.

Mike said...

Great post NC. I really, really wish I could have been there!

Todd Franklin said...

John - I think we shared the same childhood! Actually I think most kids from the 70's were introduced to Vincent the same way. I really enjoyed your blog post on our shared hero!

Dane - Thanks! Yeah, as an adult I have a much better appreciation of Ligeia.

Steve - That's very nice of you to say. I wish I could get up there more. Yeah, I was bummed out that he didn't have time for a meet and greet, but it sure was great to hear him talk. I was looking for you after Ligeia to make sure you saw Max. It was cool meeting him in the flesh.

Mike - I wish you could have been there too!

Paul Duca said...

There's an episode of MORK & MINDY where Mork from Ork encounters his first Vincent Price film, and is utterly terrified. Mindy tries to reassure him that Price is simply an actor, and a very nice guy in fact..."he writes cookbooks and sells art at Sears"