Friday the Thirteenth with Vincent Price - Generosity as an Audience
Happy Friday the Thirteenth, a little belatedly! For this special spooky Friday I thought it’d be nice to get a little creepy with the king of villains himself: Vincent Price. Vincent Price is one of my favorite people in the world and I thought that I’d share a big lesson that Vincent’s taught me in how I consume movies and media. Generosity.
But first Vincent.
For people that don’t know who Vincent Price is, he is the pinnacle of evil. Acting-wise that is. He has played amazing villains, and perfected it down to a science. He’s gone now but more recently he was the inventor in Edward Scissorhands and the voice in Michael Jackson’s Thriller. That’s just the recent though, if you go back to the classics of cinema horror, House of Wax, Witchfinder General, The Tingler, you get Vincent Price.
To know just how wonderful Vincent Price is, and what a great sense of humor he has, he, Peter Cushing, and Christopher Lee, who share near birthday dates, had a party together in Madam Tussauds Wax House of Horrors. Vincent would often tell the story of how he would replace himself in the wax museum, wait for visitors to come by, and then jump out at them, scaring people have to death.
After studying art in school, he worked for a few years as an art buyer for clients, which he said was like being a secondhand millionaire. Terrifically and wonderfully intelligent, well mannered, and perfectly sinister when he wanted to be, Vincent Price was a renaissance man. Well Versed in Poetry, an exceptional knowledge of art, theatre actor who transferred to the cinema. You can hear it in his sepulchral tone. The way it resonates and lingers in your ears. The faux british accent that would sound ridiculous coming from anyone else, somehow elevated him above the rest. He doesn’t talk down to you, but you feel him walking on air anytime you see him. Gliding even, as though everything he did was so natural, easy, and sensible.
I don’t know why, but there’s something just terrifically wicked about his manner, and one that, despite the number of cheesy movies he’s in, you find yourself enjoyably watching. It’s not quite campy when he hams it up, but it’s more like he knows that he’s being a ham. What makes it work is that when you watch him, he makes you forgive all of the terrible effects, terrible plots, and terrible script, and enjoy watching just through his sheer charisma and style. He makes the audience want to be generous with their attention, and forgo the obvious and enjoy the film. In honor of Vincent, that’s the point of this Friday the thirteenth article, Enjoy yourself. The greatest fault in modern media is that fans, producers, and critiques, so often become so hungry for blood, that we want to trash a movie so hard that it seems bad, rather than relax and enjoy it. If a line is terrible, laugh at it but go along with it. If an actor is over the top, just let it ride. And if a movie is silly, let yourself get caught up in spite of it. If you do, you’ll find yourself enjoying so much that you never would have exposed yourself to.
Enjoying something that’s not gory, or gruesome, or vulgar. But a little creepy, very seductive, and so so wonderful to watch. Happy Friday the thirteenth and beware the creatures of the night.
If you feel like looking in on Vincent, Here's a link to a youtube video of House on Haunted Hill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9RedbhV8Pc