Tower of London is a 1962 historical drama and horror feature film, starring Vincent Price, Michael Pate (The Black Castle, Curse of the Undead, The Marsupials: The Howling III), Robert Brown, Charles Macaulay, Joan Freeman, Morris Ankrum (The Giant Claw, Zombies of Mora Tau, How to Make a Monster), Sandra Knight (Frankenstein’s Daughter, Blood Bath).
Directed by Roger Corman, the film was written by Leo Gordon, F. Amos Powell, and Robert E. Kent, and produced by Gene Corman and Edward Small Productions. Francis Ford Coppola (Dementia 13, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Twixt) was a dialogue director.
The film is a highly fictionalised account of the rise to power and eventual downfall of King Richard III of England, freely combining elements derived from the plots of William Shakespeare’s plays Richard III and Macbeth. It is also an adaptation of the 1939 film of the same name, starring Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff and Price. The 1962 version contains The Battle of Bosworth scenes from the 1939 film.
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Richard, the duke of Gloucester (Vincent Price), is dismayed when his dying brother King Edward IV names their brother George, Duke of Clarence as Protector to his young son and heir, Prince Edward. Richard wants the position himself, to become de facto ruler after his brother’s death. He secretly stabs George to death with a dagger bearing the crest of the Woodville family, framing the dying king’s in-laws. Richard is now named Protector. His wife Anne approves of his crime and encourages him to take the throne for himself.
After the death of King Edward, Richard tries to achieve his ends by intimidating the widowed queen’s lady-in-waiting Mistress Shore into claiming that the dead king’s two children are illegitimate. She refuses, and Richard tortures her…
Vincent Price is the hunchbacked and ambitious Richard, murdering his way to the English crown, yet tormented by the ghosts of his victims – how real these are is left for the viewer to decide. Gleefully chewing the scenery in the way that only he could get away with, Price is great fun here, engagingly theatrical and obviously enjoying doing a bit of bastardised Shakespeare.
“What’s most surprising is that a director better known for movies like Attack of the Crab Monsters and The Little Shop of Horrors actually does a pretty good job with this lowbrow reinterpretation … Seriously, if you strip away the blank verse and the Elizabethan grammar, England’s most famous playwright has more in common with a B-movie shlockmeister than your high school English teacher would care to admit.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting
“Vincent Price’s meltdown into tortured guilt comes at the beginning rather than toward the end as it might in any other film, which tends to tip the dramatic balance of the story the wrong way. The rest of the time Roger Corman focuses on the Grand Guignol sadism and torture set-pieces…” Moria: Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Review
“Tower of London works as a curiosity piece foremost. It’s also a fairly solid film that’s carried by a great, smarmy performance by Price, who spends most of the time being an asshole that kills people (he’s even tricked into killing people he doesn’t want to!). Obviously, it lacks the elegance of Shakespeare, but it is one of the classier pictures Corman ever helmed.” Oh, the Horror!
“The low budget is all too apparent, and despite a transfusion of graphic violence and ghostly apparitions, Corman hits the mark only occasionally.” Gene Wright, Horrorshows: The A – Z of Horror in Film, TV, Radio and Theater