Among the crown jewels of Scream Factory’s ever-growing library of classic horror titles on Blu-ray (and some not-so-classic) are their Vincent Price Collection boxed sets, collecting many of the icon’s greatest films including most of the Roger Corman “Poe cycle”, as well as other goodness like the Dr. Phibes movies and the brilliant Witchfinder General. Not only do these collections celebrate one of the greatest icons the genre has ever known, but also honor a kind of old-school horror of which we don’t see enough anymore.

But by the recently released Vincent Price Collection III, the third collection of Price movies on Blu-ray, Scream Factory has had to dig up some fairly esoteric titles, not all of which can be considered horror. Unfortunately, Theater of Blood is still nowhere to be found on Blu-ray and Kino Lorber has the rights for anthologies like Tales of Terror and Twice Told Tales, which would have seemed to be a perfect fit for Scream Factory’s next collection. In their place are some lesser-known offerings that, while not as strong as the titles included on the past two boxed sets, still provide hours of entertainment (plus plenty of bonus features) in the presence of the great Vincent Price.

First up is 1961’s Master of the World, a science fiction fantasy based on the writing of Jules Verne. Price plays a mysterious man named Robur who travels the world in his fantastical flying airship, using the threat of military force to enforce peace everywhere he goes. When his ship is boarded by a team of scientists (including Henry Hull, the original Werewolf of London) and a government agent played by Charles Bronson, Robur’s motives are called into question and his plans are eventually threatened by the new passengers he’s basically keeping as captives.

In theory, an AIP production starring Vincent Price, Henry Hull and Charles Bronson sounds like a can’t-miss package. AIP pulled out all the stops with this one, producing what was at the time their highest-budgeted effort in an attempt to copy what some of the big studios were doing with movies like Around the World in 80 Days. This was AIP’s grab at the brass ring, like when Cannon Films spent upwards of $25 million to make Lifeforce in the ’80s. The money is often onscreen here, with tons of special effects shots, model and miniature work, rear projection—you name it. Sure, it looks cheap and mostly unconvincing by today’s standards (to be fair, it looks a little cheap and unconvincing by 1961’s standards, too), but you have to give AIP credit for trying. They threw all the resources they could at Master of the World, and the result is an ambitious film made with real passion and invention.

If only it were also a better movie. Don’t get me wrong—there’s a lot to like in the movie. It’s fun to see AIP work at this kind of scale and Price is as good as ever playing a charismatic madman, albeit a well-intentioned one. Hull is overly theatrical in the kind of role that would eventually be earmarked for Peter Cushing in later AIP films and Bronson is, well, Bronson: stiff and grimacing. My issues with Master of the World (besides the fact that it isn’t really horror) are in its plotting, which feels aimless and repetitive once Price picks up his “guests.”

Disc two contains Tower of London, another collaboration between Price and director Roger Corman and one of the highlights of the collection. The stark black-and-white effort retells the story of King Richard III (Price), who systematically murders anyone he sees as a threat to his inheriting the throne and goes mad as he is visited by all of their ghosts. The setup and payoff basically repeat themselves throughout the entirety of the film, and yet Tower of London never feels as redundant as Master of the World, probably because the motivations are clearer and Corman knows how to streamline a story for maximum efficient simplicity. Everything about the movie drips gothic atmosphere, and though Corman isn’t working from an Edgar Allan Poe story this time, he’s using a number of the same tools; it’s too bad Corman’s reputation is based on being a producer of low-budget schlock, because it overshadows just what a good director he was.

Price is in top form, too, as the hunchbacked, hateable Richard. I love to see Price play the (usually tortured) hero, but he’s so much more fun in his villainous turns. His work in Tower of London is reminiscent of his turn as Matthew Hopkins in the great Witchfinder General in that he resists his tendency to pitch his performance towards camp (and I say this as someone who loves his campy performances), instead leaning hard into the character’s pathetic envy and ambition. Few actors do sniveling better than Price, and the natural intelligence he projects makes him all the more threatening because he seems actually capable of outsmarting everyone around him—until his eventual downfall, of course, which feels particularly earned in Tower of London. Having never seen the movie prior to reviewing this set, Tower was among the best surprises of the Vincent Price Collection III.

Two features are contained on the third disc: the 1970 television production An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe and Diary of a Madman from 1963. The TV special, which runs 52 minutes (and is presented here in standard definition rather than fake upscaled HD), features Price alone on a set reciting four Poe stories: “The Tell-Tale Heart”, “The Sphinx”, “The Cask of Amontillado”, and “The Pit and the Pendulum.” It’s clear that Price relishes the opportunity to perform the one-man piece, though I found myself having a difficult time separating the performer from the material (which isn’t the case when I watch Price in Corman’s Poe adaptations… go figure). It’s a nice inclusion from Scream Factory and should be viewed as a curiosity, but it’s the film in this collection that I am least likely to revisit. The second feature on the disc, 1963’s Diary of a Madman, is an adaptation of Guy de Maupassant’s story “The Horla” and casts Price as a recently deceased magistrate whose last days are played out via flashback. He “inherits” an invisible being called an horla from a prisoner set to be executed and the horla goes about destroying his life, filling his mind with poisonous thoughts and slowly driving him insane.

Diary of a Madman places Price into the tortured hero role (see also: The Tingler, The Last Man on Earth, Tomb of Ligeia, etc.), going crazy against an invisible foe who just happens to also have his distinct voice. Like nearly all of the films included in this collection, it gives Price an opportunity to do some heavy lifting dramatically even when the overall movie isn’t as strong as many of his other efforts. There are some cool stop-motion effects (the horla alters a clay statue that Price has sculpted) and a few interesting questions raised about man’s innate capacity for evil, but a good deal of the film feels dramatically inert. It falls short as a horror movie, becoming more of a character drama with some supernatural overtones, but Price carries the movie through the rough spots.

The fourth and final disc contains two versions of Price’s 1970 film Cry of the Banshee: the R-rated director’s cut and the tamer AIP cut, which eliminates the nudity and much of the violence, replaces the score and changes out the opening credits by Terry Gilliam. Yes, Terry Gilliam did amazing credits for Cry of the Banshee and AIP decided to “go another way.” Like in Diary of a Madman, Price plays a magistrate again and similar to Witchfinder General, he plays an evil man looking to rid the world of all women he determines to be witches. One actual witch doesn’t take too well to her kind being murdered and conjures up a demon to take revenge on Price’s family.

Cry of the Banshee is a rare R-rated Vincent Price vehicle that, like Witchfinder General before it, isn’t afraid to be really dark and nasty. It’s violent and sexual and Price plays a true monster of a man. Whether it was just the changing of the decades or the studio’s attempt to keep up with the increased violence and nudity of Hammer Films, it’s interesting to see what is essentially another Vincent Price joint that’s more “adult” in nature, depicting onscreen what is only implied in many of the AIP films of the ’60s. This, of course, is only in the R-rated director’s cut; the US AIP release is more in keeping with their previous efforts and removes most of what might be considered objectionable. But even beyond the R-rated content, Cry of the Banshee is terrific; it may cover territory that’s familiar from some earlier Price movies, but it does so in high fashion. This and Tower of London are the high points of the Vincent Price Collection III, and while the other inclusions are fun enough and worth watching, it’s these two movies that make the boxed set a necessary purchase for Vincent Price fans.

This being a Scream Factory release, you know the films are treated well. Four of the five films have received new HD masters struck from original elements and look better than they ever have on home video. A generous offering of bonus material has been included as well, some of it new and some of it carried over from past DVD releases. Master of the World contains a commentary from co-star David Frankham and a feature-length documentary on screenwriter Richard Matheson, as well as the original trailer and two different still galleries. Disc two contains a new interview with Tower of London director Corman, an interview with producer Gene Corman, the movie’s trailer and a still gallery. The coolest bonus feature by far on the second disc is the inclusion of two episodes of the old Science Fiction Theater, “One Thousand Eyes” and “Operation Flypaper”, both featuring Price as the star. The extras on Diary of a Madman consist of a commentary by author and historian Steve Habermas, the film’s trailer and a still gallery, while An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe contains a commentary from Habermas, an interview with writer/director Kenneth Johnson and a trailer. The final disc contains a brand new Haberman commentary, an interview with star Gordon Hessler, the trailer, some radio spots and yet another gallery of production and marketing stills. The collection also comes with a handsome 12-page book of rare photographs of Vincent Price.

I love Vincent Price, and I will gladly buy ten more Vincent Price Collections if Scream Factory sees fit to release them. While the choices for this third boxed set are more esoteric and varied quality-wise than their past efforts, the Vincent Price Collection III introduced me to a couple of movies I had never seen, two of which I really loved. All of the films offer different sides of the great Vincent Price, an actor who may have starred in dozens of low-budget horror movies, but who gave every single performance his all. As a result, there’s something to enjoy in every one of his movies. He is dearly missed by us horror fans, but he lives on in great releases like this one.

Master of the World Score: 3/5

Tower of London Score: 4/5

Diary of a Madman Score: 3/5

An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe Score: 3/5

Cry of the Banshee Score: 4/5

Disc Score: 4/5

  • Patrick Bromley
    About the Author - Patrick Bromley

    Patrick lives in Chicago, where he has been writing about film since 2004. A member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Online Film Critics Society, Patrick's writing also appears on, and, the site he runs and hosts a weekly podcast.

    He has been an obsessive fan of horror and genre films his entire life, watching, re-watching and studying everything from the Universal Monsters of the '30s and '40s to the modern explosion of indie horror. Some of his favorites include Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1931), Dawn of the Dead (1978), John Carpenter's The Thing and The Funhouse. He is a lover of Tobe Hooper and his favorite Halloween film is part 4. He knows how you feel about that. He has a great wife and two cool kids, who he hopes to raise as horror nerds.