I've been wanting to have a Festival of Bad Cinema for a while, but the logistics have been difficult. I did manage to catch the 1964 version of 'The Masque of the Red Death', a Roger Corman effort that the master really poured his heart into. This is evidenced by the fact that it took five weeks to film rather than his usual three.
Vincent Price is there, as usual, in the character of evil Prince Prospero, stalking about with a grim little smirk as if secretly delighted by the ham and schlock that surrounds him. Paul McCartney's ex-girlfriend Jane Asher is the innocent virgin whom Vincent seeks to corrupt, although she spends most of her time skittering around in a hairstyle that even Dolly Parton would consider too over-the-top, looking dumbstruck. Meanwhile Hazel Court is the older, rather less virginal concubine, who divides her time between nagging Prospero to ease off on the innocent virgins and nagging Satan to become his bride.
There's also an uncomfortable piece of casting in the relationship between an ambitious dwarf and a midget dancer. The dwarf is fine, but Roger obviously couldn't find a female midget to play the dancer, so he got a little girl for the role. It's quite unsettling to see a dwarf discussing his romantic intentions with a six year old girl, especially when that six year old girl's voice has been edited out and replaced with that of a mature woman.
There's not much to say about the plot, because even the Edgar Allan Poe original didn't really have one. "Bloke is brought down by hubris" pretty much covers it. Roger threw in some Satan worship and a romantic subplot between a couple of villagers, but all that does is prolong things. From the outset, even the dimmest viewer knows that they're all just biding their time waiting for the Red Death.
Overall, for a piece of Bad Cinema, it was pretty good. Nice sets (left over from a completely different movie), florid overacting, and plenty of opportunities for Hazel Court to brandish her cleavage at anyone who gets in her way. And in my opinion any film that features Patrick McGee in a gorilla suit being set on fire by a dwarf is well worth eighty nine minutes of my time.