The Masque of the Red Death (1964)

84, 86 or 90 mins | Horror | 24 June 1964

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HISTORY

On 15 Feb 1961, DV announced that Roger Corman would produce and direct Masque of the Red Death, based on the Edgar Allan Poe short story originally published in the May 1842 edition of Graham’s Magazine. The following day’s DV stated that the project would be one of several releases developed through Corman’s independent production-distribution company, Filmgroup, Inc.Inc., along with his brother, Gene Corman. A few months later, however, Corman released an adaptation of Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum (1961, see entry) through American International Pictures (AIP). According to the 28 Feb 1962 Var, Corman compared its box-office earnings to that of his first Poe feature, The Fall of the House of Usher (1960, see entry), and determined there to be a growing demand for the author’s works. As a result, he decided to extend his deal with AIP to include The Masque of the Red Death, which was expected to begin shooting later that autumn.
       Despite plans for a 1963 release, production was repeatedly delayed as Corman prioritized other Poe projects for AIP such as Premature Burial and Tales of Terror (1962, see entries), and The Haunted Palace and The Raven (1963, see entries). During this time, items in the 15 Aug 1962 and 3 Oct 1962 Var indicated that John Carter (son of American painter Clarence Holbrook Carter) and Robert Towne had written drafts of the screenplay, although contemporary reviews credited Charles Beaumont and R. Wright Campbell for the final shooting script.
       A 14 Sep 1962 ... More Less

On 15 Feb 1961, DV announced that Roger Corman would produce and direct Masque of the Red Death, based on the Edgar Allan Poe short story originally published in the May 1842 edition of Graham’s Magazine. The following day’s DV stated that the project would be one of several releases developed through Corman’s independent production-distribution company, Filmgroup, Inc.Inc., along with his brother, Gene Corman. A few months later, however, Corman released an adaptation of Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum (1961, see entry) through American International Pictures (AIP). According to the 28 Feb 1962 Var, Corman compared its box-office earnings to that of his first Poe feature, The Fall of the House of Usher (1960, see entry), and determined there to be a growing demand for the author’s works. As a result, he decided to extend his deal with AIP to include The Masque of the Red Death, which was expected to begin shooting later that autumn.
       Despite plans for a 1963 release, production was repeatedly delayed as Corman prioritized other Poe projects for AIP such as Premature Burial and Tales of Terror (1962, see entries), and The Haunted Palace and The Raven (1963, see entries). During this time, items in the 15 Aug 1962 and 3 Oct 1962 Var indicated that John Carter (son of American painter Clarence Holbrook Carter) and Robert Towne had written drafts of the screenplay, although contemporary reviews credited Charles Beaumont and R. Wright Campbell for the final shooting script.
       A 14 Sep 1962 DV item stated that the budget had been set at $1 million. On 12 Jun 1963, Var announced that AIP executives James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff had settled a co-financing agreement with a European company, which a 1 Jan 1964 Var production chart identified as Anglo-Amalgamated Productions. Principal photography began 18 Nov 1963 at the Associated British Picture Corporation studios in Elstree, England.
       While Corman succeeded in getting his adaptation to the screen, he faced competition from two rival adaptations of The Masque of the Red Death from Woolner Brothers Pictures and producer Alex Gordon. According to the 6 Oct 1961 DV, Gordon claimed to have also signed Vincent Price for his version, and a 10 Jan 1964 Var article announced that he had filed an injunction against the release of Corman’s film on accusations of plagiarism.
       The suit was unsuccessful, and the 20 Jun 1964 LAT announced that the picture would open in Los Angeles, CA, on 24 Jun 1964. The London debut took place in Jun 1964, and a showcase engagement in New York City began 16 Sep 1964. On 18 Feb 1965, DV reported that a four-day engagement was scheduled at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art in Apr 1965.
       Contemporary reviews listed varying running times of eighty-four, eighty-six, and ninety minutes. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
15 Feb 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
16 Feb 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
4 Oct 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
6 Oct 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
14 Sep 1962
p. 11.
Daily Variety
24 Jun 1964
p. 3.
Daily Variety
18 Feb 1965
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
20 Jun 1964
Section B, p. 6.
New York Times
17 Sep 1964
p. 52.
Variety
28 Feb 1962
p. 7.
Variety
15 Aug 1962.
p. 22.
Variety
3 Oct 1962
p. 20.
Variety
12 Jun 1963
p. 4.
Variety
1 Jan 1964
p. 17.
Variety
10 Jun 1964
p. 4.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dresser
COSTUMES
Cost supv
MUSIC
Mus comp & cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Cont
Constr mgr
Casting dir
Title des
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "The Masque of the Red Death" by Edgar Allan Poe in Graham's Magazine (May 1842) and his short story "Hop-frog, or the Eight Chained Orang-outangs" in Southern Literary Messenger (Apr 1836).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Masque of the Red Death
Release Date:
24 June 1964
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 24 June 1964
New York opening: 16 September 1964
Production Date:
began 18 November 1963
Copyright Claimant:
Alta Vista Productions
Copyright Date:
24 June 1964
Copyright Number:
LP28693
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Pathécolor, print by Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
84, 86 or 90
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 12th-century Italy Prospero, a Satan-worshiping prince, jails two peasants, Gino and Ludovico, for defying his authority to tax citizens. Francesca, Ludovico's daughter and Gino's fiancée, pleads for their lives, and the intrigued Prospero agrees to spare whichever one she chooses. Later, the prince sees evidence of the Red Death plague in the village and orders all houses in the infected area burned. The disease obliges Prospero to retreat to his castle, and he forces Francesca to accompany him, intending to dress her in courtly attire and have her watch him indulge in sadistic pleasures as part of her instruction in diabolism. Juliana, the prince's mistress, is jealous of Francesca but aids her attempt to help Gino and Ludovico escape. The plot is foiled, however, and at one of the events preceding Prospero's annual masked ball, the prince orders the men to cut themselves with five knives, one of which is poisoned. Ludovico is impaled on Prospero's sword when he attempts to kill the prince with one of the weapons, and Gino is banished to the burning village, promising to return. Juliana, meanwhile, sacrifices herself to Satan while Prospero watches unperturbed. On his way back to town, Gino meets a strange figure in red, who takes him back to the castle and instructs him to wait outside for Francesca. As the mysterious intruder enters the ball, Prospero and his guests die of the Red Death, but Gino and Francesca are permitted to ... +


In 12th-century Italy Prospero, a Satan-worshiping prince, jails two peasants, Gino and Ludovico, for defying his authority to tax citizens. Francesca, Ludovico's daughter and Gino's fiancée, pleads for their lives, and the intrigued Prospero agrees to spare whichever one she chooses. Later, the prince sees evidence of the Red Death plague in the village and orders all houses in the infected area burned. The disease obliges Prospero to retreat to his castle, and he forces Francesca to accompany him, intending to dress her in courtly attire and have her watch him indulge in sadistic pleasures as part of her instruction in diabolism. Juliana, the prince's mistress, is jealous of Francesca but aids her attempt to help Gino and Ludovico escape. The plot is foiled, however, and at one of the events preceding Prospero's annual masked ball, the prince orders the men to cut themselves with five knives, one of which is poisoned. Ludovico is impaled on Prospero's sword when he attempts to kill the prince with one of the weapons, and Gino is banished to the burning village, promising to return. Juliana, meanwhile, sacrifices herself to Satan while Prospero watches unperturbed. On his way back to town, Gino meets a strange figure in red, who takes him back to the castle and instructs him to wait outside for Francesca. As the mysterious intruder enters the ball, Prospero and his guests die of the Red Death, but Gino and Francesca are permitted to survive. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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