THE TOMB OF LIGEIA (1964) Reviews and Kino Lorber Blu-ray news

 

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The Tomb of Ligeia, Roger Corman’s eighth Poe adaptation, will be released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber Studio Classics on September 7, 2021. Special features:

Audio commentary by film critic Tim Lucas (new)
Audio commentary by director/producer Roger Corman
Audio commentary by actress Elizabeth Shepherd
Trailers From Hell with Joe Dante
Theatrical trailer
Limited edition slipcover

Meanwhile, here is our previous coverage of this genuine cult classic:


The Tomb of Ligeia is a 1964 American/British horror film about a man’s obsession with his dead wife which causes friction with his new bride.

Directed by Roger Corman from a screenplay co-written by Robert Towne and (uncredited) Paul Mayersberg, based upon the 1838 short story “Ligeia” by Edgar Allan Poe. The Alta Vista Productions movie stars Vincent Price, Elizabeth Shepherd, John Westbrook and Derek Francis.

This was was the last in Corman’s series of eight film adaptations for American International Pictures (AIP) based on the works of Poe. The Tomb of Ligeia was filmed in England and is distinctive among the Corman-Poe cycle for its atypical outdoor scenes and opulent settings. It was promoted as Tomb of Ligeia

The soundtrack score was composed by Kenneth V. Jones (Tower of Evil; Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?; The Projected Man; The Brain).

Plot:

Verden Fell (Vincent Price) is both mournful and threatened by his first wife’s death. He senses her reluctance to die and her near-blasphemous statements about God. Alone and troubled by a vision problem that requires him to wear strange dark glasses, Fell shuns the world. Against his better judgement, he marries a headstrong young woman (Elizabeth Shepherd) he meets by accident and who is apparently betrothed to an old friend Christopher Gough (John Westbrook).

The spirit of Fell’s first wife Ligeia seems to haunt the old mansion/abbey where they live and a series of nocturnal visions and the sinister presence of a cat (who may be inhabited by the spirit of Ligeia) cause him distress. Ultimately he must face the spirit of Ligeia and resist her or perish…

Reviews:

“Mr Corman has made stunning, ambient use of his authentic setting, an ancient abbey in Norfolk, England, and the lovely countryside. The picture is not nearly as finished as Masque of the Red Death, also shot in Britain and The Pit and the Pendulum remains our favorite of all. But the Corman climate of evil is as unhealthy and contagious as ever.” Howard Thompson, The New York Times, May 1965

Tomb-of-Ligeia

” … one of the best in the whole series, an ambiguous, open-ended film which features one of Vincent Price’s most decisive performances. There is a long early sequence involving a long monologue by Verden Fell (Price), juxtaposed against Rowena (Shepherd) climbing a gothic tower, which has a syntactic originality that has rarely been equalled in horror movies. But even more importantly, Corman – like Michael Reeves in Witchfinder General – utilised the English landscape in a way that Hammer had often neglected.” David Pirie, Time Out

“A bizarre mixture of necrophilia, hypnotism and magic, directed to the hilt by Corman and boasting a concentrated and serious performance by Price. Superbly photographed with excellent use of locations, it is one of Corman’s most atmospheric Gothic chillers, ultimately surviving a confusing script.” Alan Frank, The Horror Film Handbook

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“Corman makes a particular point of giving the film a very different appearance to the earlier works, in using exteriors while the previous films had been entirely studio-bound – this does help to add some variation and the use of the beautiful Castle Acre Priory is a lot more realistic than the matt painted castles of the earlier films – however this move does serve to diminish the claustrophobic, nightmarish atmosphere of the earlier films.” Mondo Esoterica

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“Scripted by Robert Towne, this is a full-blooded gothic romance in the tempestuous manner, with high-flown dialogue just this side of camp […] and many opportunities for the fetching if skull-faced heroine to run about lavishly-appointed, cobwebbed corridors in her powder-blue nightie pursued by the villainess in the form of a malicious cat who would have spooked Poe himself.” Kim Newman, Empire

La Tomba di Ligeia

Choice dialogue:

Verden Fell: “Christopher, not ten minutes ago I… I tried to kill a stray cat with a cabbage and all but made love to the Lady Rowena. I succeeded in squashing the cabbage and badly frightening the lady. If only I could lay open my own brain as easily as I did that vegetable, what rot would be freed from its grey leaves?”

Verden Fell: “The eyes, they confound me. There’s a blankness, a mindless sort of malice in some Egyptian eyes. They do not readily yield up the mystery they hold.”

Home viewing releases:

In the UK, Arrow Video released the film on Blu-ray on February 23, 2015.

TheTomb-of-Ligeia-Poe-Arrow-Blu-ray-artwork-by-Twins-of-Evil

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the feature, transferred from original
film elements by MGM
Original uncompressed Mono PCM Audio
Optional isolated music and effects track
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Audio commentary by director and producer Roger Corman
Audio commentary by star Elizabeth Shepherd
All-new interviews with crew members including co-writer/production assistant Paul Mayersberg, first assistant director David Tringham, clapper loader Bob Jordan and composer Kenneth V. Jones
Original Theatrical Trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil
Collector’s booklet containing new writing by Julian Upton illustrated with original production stills.

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Cast and characters:

Vincent Price … Verden Fell
Elizabeth Shepherd … The Lady Rowena Trevanion / The Lady Ligeia
John Westbrook … Christopher Gough
Derek Francis … Lord Trevanion
Oliver Johnston … Kenrick
Richard Vernon … Doctor Vivian
Frank Thornton … Peperel
Ronald Adam … Minister at Graveside
Denis Gilmore … Livery Boy
Penelope Lee … Lady Rowena’s Maidservant
Maxwell Craig … Wedding Guest (uncredited)
Anthony Lang … Wedding Guest (uncredited)
Del Watson … Footman (uncredited)
Fred Wood … Wedding Guest (uncredited)

Filming locations:

Castle Acre Priory, Swaffham, Norfolk, England
Polesden Lacey, Great Bookham, Dorking, Surrey, England (Lord Trevanion’s house)
Polzeath, Cornwall, England (beach scene)
Shepperton Studios, Shepperton, Surrey, England
St. John The Evangelist Church, Wotton, Surrey, England (wedding scene)
Stonehenge, Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, England, UK

Filming dates:

From 29 June 1964

Technical details:

82 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1

Trailer: