Vincent Price

My horror-loving life was formed by British television, either by the programmes it made, or the films it broadcast. For about eight really important years while I was growing up the only horror I got to see was courtesy of the three channels beamed by a not-always very reliable aerial into the Probert family home.

Probably the first thing I ever saw that could be considered truly horror-related was the series of Nigel Kneale TV plays ‘Beasts’ in 1976. I must have been about nine years old and somehow I ended up watching these with either my parents or by myself. I specifically remember watching ‘After Barty’s Party’ on my own, and ‘Baby’ with my  Dad, who went to do something for the last couple of minutes and left me alone to see that horrible thing in the rocking chair. I was so terrified by both episodes I almost cried. Oddly enough I remember finding the Patrick Magee ‘What Big Eyes You Have’ episode very scary as well.

Of course, now that I’ve started the memory machine rolling I realise I’ve been watching scary things (or things I perceived as scary) for as long as I can remember. My first nightmares that I’m still aware of having would have been caused by the Jon Pertwee Dr Who story ‘Inferno’ – the primord monsters in that one scared me so much I must have blotted them from my memory, as it was only while watching the programme’s eventual VHS release that I realised what it was that had scared me so much at the age of three. Dr Who scared me a lot in those early days – the sea devils, the maggots of The Green Death, and the horrible plague people were suffering from in Planet of the Daleks. By the time Tom Baker took over I was a sophisticated child of seven and far more able to cope, although The Seeds of Doom did do a fantastic job of scaring me silly.

Something that’s rarely mentioned as a source of BritTV horror is 1970s comedy shows. This perhaps isn’t surprising but again when you’re very small you take everything at face value, and don’t appreciate that what’s going on is going to lead up to a punchline. I’m talking specifically about Dave Allan’s early 1970s BBC show here, which always seemed to have at least one scary sketch or story. It was only many years later that I discovered that Mr Allan was something of a horror fan, and certainly he was equally able at recounting funny stories as scary ones. I remember one sketch where he turned into a werewolf that made me run out of the room, another featuring a mummy ambling down a corridor (that was me out of the room straight away) and  one of Allan’s standup (or rather sit down, drink scotch and smoke) routines where he recounted the tale of a young bride who moves into a lonely country mansion where there is a single locked door, and behind it she can hear a constant, but very faint, scratching.

Scratching reminds me of a Morecambe and Wise sketch that terrified me too. Eric and Ernie move into a farmhouse that’s reputedly haunted. The caretaker (I think it may  have been Larry Martyn but remember I must have been about five) tells them the story of what happened to the previous occupants, who disappeared one night. “All they found in the morning was scratch marks,” I remember him saying, “all over the walls, and up the stairs.” Again this was the cue for little JLP to leave the room. It’s interesting now to reflect that as I never hung around for the silly bits of these pieces, it’s almost akin to being shown clips from overtly violent horror films out of context. By leaving I filled in the rest of the story for myself in my ridiculously overactive imagination, creating far worse horrors than the scriptwriters would ever have intended, or quite possibly dreamed of.

Other non-horror horror memories I have include Robert Fuest’s AIP version of Wuthering Heights. The funeral at the start disturbed me and the whole film is very bleak – definitely horror story rather than love story as far as I’m concerned, although of course many may be considered both! Carry On Screaming scared me a lot when I first saw it as well, because yet again I didn’t know it was meant to be silly.

So there we are. I haven’t even got to watching my first proper horror film at the age of nine (it was The Fly on ATV’s Vincent Price season, followed by Dr Phibes Rises Again and then Witchfinder General, all watched on my own except for Witchfinder which weirdly my parents saw the end of with me), or my experiences with the BBC2 double bills. And before that there was of course the plethora of public information films detailing real-life horrors and dangers right in your own home that all got fed into my little head at the time and which seem to have stayed there ever since.

In closing I would like to extend my thanks to Rick Gladman for offering me the opportunity to dig up some memories I didn’t even know I had, and reminding me that my God we were lucky kids to have so much fun stuff to watch.

Article by John Llewellyn Probert

Vincent Price, the ‘Crowned Prince of Horror’ would have been 101 years old today. To commemorate the life of one of our all-time favourite classic horror actors we thought we would take a look at some of the highlights of Vincent Price’s memorably macabre movie career.

Don’t forget that the Classic Horror Campaign is screening the classic Vincent Price film Dr Phibes Rises Again (1972) alongside AIP monster movie How To Make a Monster (1958) at the Roxy Bar & Screen, London on Sunday June 3rd. Buy your tickets now from WeGotTickets.

 

  • Tower of London (1939)
  • The Invisible Man Returns (1940)
  • House of Wax (1953)
  • The Mad Magician (1954)
  • The Fly (1958)
  • House on Haunted Hill (1958)
  • The Bat (1959)
  • The Tingler (1959)
  • Return of the Fly (1959)
  • House of Usher (1960)
  • The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
  • Tales of Terror (1962)
  • The Raven (1963)
  • The Haunted Palace (1963)
  • Twice-Told Tales (1963)
  • The Comedy of Terrors (1964)
  • The Last Man on Earth (1964)
  • The Masque of the Red Death (1964)
  • Tomb of Ligeia (1964)
  • Witchfinder General (1968)
  • The Oblong Box (1969)
  • Scream and Scream Again (1970)
  • Abominable Dr Phibes (1971)
  • Dr Phibes Rises Again (1972)
  • Theatre of Blood (1973)
  • Madhouse (1974)
  • The Monster Club (1980)
  • House of the Long Shadows (1983)
  • Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1983)
  • Bloodbath at the House of Death (1984)
  • From a Whisper to a Scream (1987)
  • Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Support Us


Advertise Here
Amanda Norman
Purchase Horror/Gothic Cards and More Gifts