Scary Movies: Tomb of Ligeia

Finally finishing up the horror movies from my family’s annual Halloween film festival, and we come to the Tomb of Ligeia. This is the third from director Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe cycle that we’ve watched, the previous ones being The Raven and Tales of Terror, and all starring Vincent Price. The Tomb of Ligeia is loosely based on Poe’s short story the Black Cat, and I thought Corman’s adaption turned out quite well.

Rowena is a young woman out with her father’s fox hunting party when she injures her leg. One of the party helps her ride towards home, but on the way they come across the ruins of a cathedral Rowena never knew were there (see picture above), and they encounter a strange man, Verden Fell. Fell is at the grave of his recently deceased wife, Ligeia, who was from Egypt. He takes Rowena back to his home, where he and his butler dress her wounds. A mean-spirited black cat hangs around his house. Despite his oddness, Rowena is fascinated with Verden.

After several weeks of courting, Verden and Rowena marry. Things are great on their honeymoon, but when they return to Verden’s home, the marriage goes sour. For one thing, Verden won’t clear out all of the weird Egyptian bric-a-brac that belonged to his late wife. For another, that black cat is always around, scratching or tripping Rowena whenever it gets a chance. And then there are the terrible nightmares Rowena starts having, and when she wakes up in the middle of the night, Verden is gone, wandering the surrounding forest in his bare feet, and having no memory of doing so when the morning comes. Rowena becomes convinced that the black cat harbors the spirit of Ligeia, and is not so happy that her husband has re-married…

Tomb of Ligeia (1964)
Story/Plot/Characters— A great plot, sharp script, and interesting characters. Vincent Price is excellent as Verden Fell, as is Elizabeth Shepherd as Rowena. The pacing does drag a bit in parts. (3 points)
Special Effects— Not a real heavy special effects movie, but what there is, is used effectively. A surprising amount of blood and gore in the final scene for a movie from this era. (1 points)
Scariness— A few gothic chills, but not especially scary. (.5 points)
Atmosphere/Freakiness— Filmed on location at the ruins of the Castle Acre Priory, this movie uses its setting to the utmost. Additionally, the inside of Fell’s home, still decorated with the Egyptian themes of his late wife, is very well done. Beautifully atmospheric, and probably the best reason to watch this movie. (2 points)
Total=6.5 points (Pretty Good)

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