May 26, 2011

Vincent at 100

The old Inventor presents his patchwork creation, Edward Scissorhands, with a new heart, freshly baked.

Vincent Price would have turned 100 on May 27. Celebrations, ingeniously dubbed The Vincentennial, were held all this week in St. Louis, Price’s birthplace.

Unlike his horror star confreres Karloff, Lugosi, Chaney Jr, Cushing and Lee — he worked with all of them, save Lugosi — Price never made a Frankenstein film. He does utter a line, uncredited and, playing The Invisible Man, unseen, in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), but that doesn’t really count, does it? Otherwise, Price appeared in clearly Frankensteinian films, like Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands (1990), a Frankenstein-like fairy tale, complete with angry villagers storming a castle at the end. Price was the mysterious and whimsical Inventor who creates a boy with scissors for hands and a cookie heart. It was the actor’s last feature film role.

There’s a tenuous Frankenstein connection in Price’s turn as Dr. Goldfoot, star of two unfortunate comedies, Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965) and Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (1966). This mad scientist created attractive fembots built for seduction, robbery and murder.

A better Frankenstein reference can be found in Price’s Dr. Phibes character, featured in two wildly entertaining films, The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) and Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972), both directed by Robert Fuest. The mad Anton Phibes, horribly mutilated in a car accident, frankensteins himself back together, trading The Monster’s electrodes for an audio jack in his neck, allowing him to speak through a gramophone. Phibes was, in a sense, the mad doctor and his own monster rolled into one.

Price good-naturedly embraced his success and enormous popularity as a movie villain and a horror star. He had fun with his screen image, often appearing as a guest on television comedy and variety programs. In one famous 1968 episode of The Red Skelton Show, Price and Boris Karloff sang The Two of Us and donned laboratory coats for a sketch as mad scientists with designs on Clem Kadiddlehopper’s addled brain.

By a glorious coincidence, Vincent Price shared his birthday, May 27, with his friend Christopher Lee. Sir Christopher, still a busy actor, will turn 89 this year. Another colleague, Peter Cushing, was born May 26. He would have been 98.

Vincent Price and Christopher Lee


Emmy said...

I love Vincent Price :) Ever since I started watching the old horror films, nothing delights me more than seeing him on screen, since he's one of my favorite actors.

Of the films you've mentioned, I've seen Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machines, and parts of Edward Scissorhands. LOVED all of them ;)

Anonymous said...

Price appeared as a mad doctor in a BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN themed sketch on THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW in the 1970s. Burnett was the Bride, Harvey Korman played the Monster:

Andy 7 said...

I'll watch "The Tingler" today. Happy Birthday, Mr. Price!

Hook's Haunted Hollow said...

My Co-Haunter's goal is to make a Vincent Price stand up for our haunt using one of our skeletons. Building his facial features up to resemble Vincent. We are currently looking for the hair and a fitting suit for him.

Karswell said...

The Vincentennial has been a blast so far here in STL... the highlight of course was watching Tim Lucas interview Roger Corman last weekend right before they showed Tomb of Ligeia. The night before we got to see The Tingler with all the great William Castle gimmicks unleashed upon the audience! Victoria Price will be here tomorrow night giving a free lecture at the History Museum.

Happy Birthday, Vincent!!!

Michael Jones said...

I'll remember Vincent, not with Frankenstein but with Frightenstein. Every Canadian kid in the 70s is familiar with this.

Anonymous said...

This was the most important day of my entire life!!! I made this tribute video for him in honor of such a glorious glorious day: