Oct. 25, 2008
The Indomitable Vincent Price
This season always conjures up the best of my spookiest memories and being that I’ve always had a thirst for horror and the scariest of the scary, it’s not surprising how many of those best memories includes Vincent Price. All the biggest scares were movies he was in, when I was a young horror fan. Masque of the Red Death, the Dr. Phibes movies, The Tomb of Ligeia, The Raven, and so many more. My eldest sister would invite me over to her house (she was already married with a family) and we’d pop some popcorn and drink Pepsi while we watched the Saturday afternoon double feature. One of the films always had Mr. Price in them, it seemed.
In 1982, Michael Jackson released Thriller. Now don’t get me wrong, being in my early twenties and having been a fan of Jackson’s from his earliest stuff, I loved Thriller, but when I heard Vincent Price doing the voice-over for the song, I knew it would be a part of my “scare memories” forever. He had a voice that could draw corpses from their graves, its crisp and precise English lending to the already-chilling quality.
I learned in adulthood that Vincent and his wife had owned a summer house for years, less than forty miles from the house we had when I was growing up. I remember my breath catching in my throat, trying to comprehend that small a distance. Years later I went back and did a piece on Price’s time in that community, interviewing some who had known him. Words like “kind” and “gentlemanly” slipped from lips with ease of truth. He was always described with respect.
Celebrities can fool us. We can’t be sure their bios are accurate or stories we read are the truth. We can put a person together by bits and pieces with what we have.
I know that Vincent Price is irrevocably entwined with my childhood memories. His films number in the hundreds and there are good biographies and articles about him.
One thing I do know for sure is that residual memories creep up my spine every time I hear the man’s voice…and always make me smile.
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