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Celebrating B Movies, Cult Films, and Indie Classics.

The Tomb of Ligeia (1964)

by  |  May 27th, 2011  |  Horror

Here’s an oldie but a goodie!

Once upon a time Edgar Allan Poe wrote a short story, then Roger Corman came a long to direct a movie out of it with Vincent Price starring in it. Need I say more?

We all know that Corman has a reputation for cranking out B movies. And for the record we don’t think B means “bad”. As a matter of fact, it frequently means just the opposite. I don’t know if it’s because of ┬áthe lack of budget or if it’s because the artist’s don’t have the pressure of the studios crushing their souls, but what these films lack in funds, they more than make up for with style and heart. They seem to try a bit harder to please their audience, and as such, one should not dismiss them so lightly.

Now Roger Corman has produced (according to IMDB) 396 films. He has also directed 56 films as well. Let’s say they over lap, (I simply don’t have time to go over each one). Now let’s round that number to 400 movies, okay? Let’s say each film averages an hour and a half run time, 90 minutes per film. That comes to 600 hrs… Still with me? If you watched just 2 of this guys movies a day, every day, it would take you nearly 1 year to make your way through his library!!! That is to say, that if you watched Roger Corman movies for 8 hrs a day, the way you approach a full time job, let me check the calculator… okay, with nights and weekends off… at a rate of a 40 hr work week… it would take you 105 days, or 3.5 months to watch the entirety of his body of work, not including TV shows, if there is any, which there probably is.

Vincent Price as Verden Fell in The Tomb of Ligeia (1964).

Alright, now that we got Roger Corman out of the way, lets talk about his knack for turning Hollywood into a movie factory… Corman was born in 1926, his first credit is for 1954, lets say he was 28 when he made his first movie. Let’s use that same number of 400 films, he’s been making movies for 57 years, and is still making them by the way. That means that Corman (checking calculator again) averages roughly 7 movies a year!? Since Corman was 28, he has made 58% of a movie… every month of his life. In other words, every day Roger Corman makes 2% of a movie, and is still making them!

Bruce Dern said he refers to the Roger Corman graduates as the… “The Cormanites”.

That is amazing, and I had no idea this was gonna be that kinda of post when I started writing it, I just got curious… Regardless, I get to talk to lot of actors and writers and directors, and it almost always leads to a conversation about Roger Corman.

I will say this: As near as I can tell, there’s 2 kinds of people in regards to Roger Corman, those that couldn’t grasp his method of doing that assembly line approach, hence only worked with Roger one time. One director recalled a time he wanted door knobs for his set, and Roger wouldn’t let him have his door knobs. According to him, the film suffered drastically because of this. That’s fine.

Roger Corman and Vincent Price between takes on some other movie.

The other type are those that embraced Corman’s methods and techniques. They willingly went through “Corman’s Movie Boot Camp”. No pun intended. And came out the other end as filmmakers and actors and writer’s. They graduated and went on to have some very long and illustrious careers, making some of the biggest movies Hollywood has ever seen. Bruce Dern said he has term for them. He calls them, “The Cormanites”. Sid Haig, told me on another occasion…

Hollywood owes a lot to Roger Corman. He gave a lot of people their starts. And we all owe him a thank you.

What does all this have to do with The Tomb of Ligeia? I have no idea. It’s a good movie. Watch it sometime. I saw it when I was a kid in Philly and it played locally after SNL. We had our own horror hostess Stella The Misstress of Manyunk, who hosted “Saturday Night Dead”, right after Saturday Night Live. Get it?

 

At any rate, big difference seeing Tomb of Ligeia at 14, and now. The themes make so much more sense. I’m of course impressed with Vincent Price’s acting, and as a romantic lead. Vincent Price was probably more aware of his role in Hollywood and movies than anyone else, and he had an awesome sense of humor.

The Tomb Of Ligeia has a certain film aesthetic at work here that you just won’t find in movies made today. Not in Harry Potter or Twilight. Sorry, but you won’t. The only flaws, are the 2 times a caught I boom shadow move across something. I’ve made enough to know what a pain in the ass that boom is. You probably won’t even notice it.

The Tomb Of Ligeia tells a fantastic and sweeping saga of loss and love. And maybe I’m reading to much into it, but of standing by your partner. Being a team and not giving up on each other. Of course that doesn’t bode well for these characters, but they never give up on each other, and I like that. As for you nay-sayers, it also offers production value a plenty. Not bad for a period costume B movie set in the 1800’s and made in 1964.

Elizabeth Shepherd delivers a fine dual performance as Ligeia and Lady Rowena. And of course it includes the now legendary teaming of Roger Corman, Vincent Price and Edgar Allan Poe.


About

Matthew Dowling, a native Philadelphian, now residing in Los Angeles, is an actor, writer and film maker. Matt's training with 2nd City, and numerous appearances in TV shows, movies, theater, infomercials, and most importantly... B movies, has prepared him for making B Movie recommendations.

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