Every October, I go on a horror movie binge, revisiting some old favorites, and discovering new classic horror titles to get me in the mood for Halloween. This double feature is actually an anthology of stories that are creepy, at times campy, but all of which are high on atmosphere and gothic suspense. In "Twice Told Tales", the three stories featured are by no means good adaptations of the original sources,but are still worth viewing if only to watch the incomparable Vincent Price. The stories here are very loosely adapted from the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
The first story "Dr Heidegger's Experiment" is perhaps the best of the three - it centers around two old friends who suddenly find the source of life and youth dripping from the ceiling of a crypt. Before long, the two friends restore their youth and also bring a long-dead corpse back to life but discover that some things are best left as is. "Rappacini's Daughter" is the weakest of the three - Vincent Price stars as Dr Rappacini, whose possessiveness of his daughter goes to literally toxic lengths with predictably tragic consequences. The plot here was rather plodding and lacked credibility as the story felt rushed through.
Finally,in "The House of the Seven Gables", Gerald Pycheon (Price) returns to his cursed ancestral home much to the chagrin of his estranged sister and the horror of his wife, who feels a pull to the place. This story would have played out a lot better if it were not confined to the ridiculous length of abt 35 minutes [imagine an entire novel being shortened into a short story] and everything plays out so quickly and abruptly that the story ends up being more of a farce than true horror.
The "Tales of Terror" DVD features adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe's stories, all of which are produced and directed by the talented Roger Corman. The first story "Morella" is about Lenora, a young girl (played by Debra Paget) who returns after many years to her ancestral home, only to find her estranged and almost deranged father (Price) stumbling about the house in a stupor, and horrors of horrors, still keeping the remains of his dead wife, Morella in one of the bedrooms. Not long after, Lenora is 'visited' by the vengeful spirit of Morella and all hell literally breaks loose. This first story is the shortest of the trio. The next story "The Black Cat" is actually a combination of Poe's "The Black Cat" and "The Cask of Amontillado" which brings together the dark and comic talents of both Price and Peter Lorre, and is quite entertaining (look out for the head tossing scene). Price especially plays his role to comic perfection. In the final story, "The Case of M. Valdemar," Basil Rathbone plays a mesmerist (hypnotist) who decides to experiment with the unknown, i.e. putting a man (Price) into a state of hypnosis at the point of death, with horrifying results.
All in all, I'd recommend this to fans of Vincent Price and classic horror with a high dose of Gothic suspense and atmosphere.