Movie Review: Twice Told Tales

Posted: October 12, 2010 in Movie Review, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , ,


Twice-Told Tales (1963 United Artists Dir. Sidney Salkow

Hey, how about that? An anthology horror movie that isn’t based on Stephen King stories or was made by the good people at American International (a name that frankly confounds me) for a change. It still has Vincent Price in it though, so we’re not totally out to sea without a familiar landmark. We got Vinnie, we’re good. After Tales of Terror did so well, one assumes United Artists wanted to get in on the horror anthology game. Since AIP had a lock on Edgar Allan Poe’s work, UA went for three stories from Nathaniel Hawthorne. Or, maybe they never even heard about Tales of Horror and it was just chance that they got AIP’s biggest star to be in a horror movie for them. Sure, that’s probably it… chance. Probably just chance that it looks like a Corman Poe movie too.



Skeletal arms pinned to a fake book? Really?

This was made a year after Tales of Terror and the same year as The Raven and Comedy of Terrors. You remember when an actor could star in as many as five movies in a single year? And I mean star, not play a side character, not do a walk on. STAR! And he was played a part in Beach Party! Dude must not have slept a wink in 1963. Anyway… There’s no frame story here, a skeletal pair of hands just opens to a page that exclaims the title for each story.


As scary as this thing’s gonna get.

The first being Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment. This is the only story that actually shows up in the book Twice Told Tales. I’ve never actually read the stories, so I have no idea how accurately they are adapted, Hawthorne was never my favorite writer. The story itself is fine… I suppose. The problem is that I can sort of tell what the two main twists are going to be as soon as the story starts, and that was without reading anything about the story online. Two old friends celebrate the birthday of one of the men. They discuss how the one friend has been pining for 38 years after the woman who died the day before he was supposed to get married. They find the door to her crypt (which hasn’t been opened for 38 years and still bakes its own bread) blown open and they good look. Well, instead of a dusty old skeleton they find a fresh corpse. They work out its some water dripping down on the coffin, which turns out to be a fountain of youth. They drink the water, get young, inject the corpse, she comes to life, and it turns out the woman the one man has been pining for didn’t love him and was screwing his best friend on the side. Cue everything going wrong. The water doesn’t last, one friend kills the other, the girl turns into a dusty old corpse and there water stops flowing to leave the last man broken and alone. I’m telling you, I saw it like it was a psychic vision. Or perhaps I saw it all because I’ve been reading these kinds of stories since I was 9 and they’re nothing if not mind numbingly predictable. Hawthorne is like that.


Even Vinnie can’t save us.

Next we have Rappaccini’s Daughter, which explores some more of my problems with Hawthorne as a writer. A mad scientist has turned his daughter into a monster that can kill with a touch, in order to keep her away from the sins of the world. I can never decide if Hawthorne is for or against the subjugation of women. While at first he seems to be against the idea, he sure does fetishize it and in many ways demand that while they shouldn’t be forced to live as men say, they should wear mental shackles and live their lives by a moral code with more kinks in it than a BDSM shop when the Republican Convention is in town. The doctor has injected his daughter with a plant extract that gives her a deadly acidic touch, which she greatly resents. There is a romance and… you know what? I don’t care. The moralistic posturing of a crappy puritanical dickhead of a writer just bore me. Yeah, the two lovers kill themselves by drinking what’s supposed to be a cure but ends up poisoning them and I don’t care. Romeo and Juliet is also the worst Shakespeare play in my view. I’m going to be honest, I sort of zoned out halfway through the story because it was so damn dull.


They see me rollin’, they hatin’

The last story is House of the Seven Gables and I’ll be honest, I skipped through it. This is not a good movie. The stories are terrible moralistic bits of garbage, and even Vincent Price can’t save this thing. This is a really lousy knock off of Corman’s far superior work and you can tell even Price isn’t enjoying himself as much as he does on the Poe movies. I’m sorry if this compromises your faith in me as a reviewer, but this week has really sucked donkey balls and I can’t even find the vitriol in my heart to properly hate this movie as much as it needs to be hated. I just need this to be over. You can’t just blame Hawthorne, there is more to the problem than that. I just can’t recommend you buy this, but maybe you feel differently.

Official Score:
-20 Degrees on the Graffiti Bridge Scale.

What a crappy way to end my 100th official review. Yeah, you can go look it up. This is review 100. I wish I’d kept track, I wish I’d made sure I had something good ready for this. This is a really crappy thing to do to you guys. I mean, over the past year, this little review-writing thing has been the only part of my working life that I’ve been able to make work consistently. And so far, it has worked. The WordPress version of this blog gets way more hits than the WordPress version of I’ll come up with something in a minute. The Blogger version is right behind the blogger counterpart in hits. Someone is reading, or at least glancing at these things. So hey, if you’ve read this far, thanks for reading. All I can tell you is, I’m going to totally try to make this up to you for review 101.

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