The Masque of the Red Death (1964), the seventh collaboration between producer-director Roger Corman and horror icon Vincent Price, became the crowning achievement for both men, their masterpiece. After the critical and commercial success of House of Usher in 1960, Corman fervently desired to adapt Edgar Allan Poe’s story, ‘The Masque of the Red Death’ as his next project, but the tale took three years to finally become, not Corman’s second Poe film, but his second to last. Its long development benefitted the end result, and the story of its making reveals the persistence and vision of Corman, the artist and entrepreneur of classic horror.
In this Devil’s Advocate, Steve Haberman takes an auteurist approach to the film with Corman as the ultimate author of the work. He explores the emergence of Corman’s themes and techniques through directorial control and compares them with the intentions and concerns of the story’s original creator, Poe. In his research, Haberman secured both drafts of the script, the first by Charles Beaumont and the last by R. Wright Campbell, consulted published interviews and met with Corman. The result illuminates not only the film but the profound and profoundly dark world views of both Roger Corman and Edgar Allan Poe.