Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 9th, 2015
BluRay released: February 23rd, 2015
Approximate running times: 82 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 12 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £13.99 (UK)
Synopsis: A man’s obsession with his deceased wife threatens to put his new found love in jeopardy. Will he be able to put his deceased wife to rest once and for all or he lose grip of his sanity in the process?
The Tomb of Ligeia would mark Roger Corman’s eight and final film in what has since become his Poe film cycle. Key collaborators on The Tomb of Ligeia include screenwriter Robert Towne (Chinatown, The Last Detail), cinematographer Arthur Grant (Paranoiac, These are the Damned) and composer Kenneth V. Jones (Intent to Kill).
All good things must eventually come to an end. After completing The Masque of the Red Death, which is arguably Corman’s strongest film in his Poe cycle. He would venture one last time into the world of Poe with The Tomb of Ligeia, what is widely considering the most maligned film from Corman’s Poe cycle.
And though The Tomb of Ligeia has carried over many of the ingredients from the previous Poe films. The end result is something that stands apart from the rest of the films, with the most notable difference being the tone of the film which this time around adds a romance angle to the Gothic vibe that is present throughout the Poe cycle. Another area where this film drastically differs from its predecessors is its extensive use of live locations over sound stages.
With that being said, since the beginning of the Poe cycle Corman was always looking for news way to be creative and trying his best not to repeat himself too much. And this shifting to more natural locations gives the film a much more foreboding vibe, then the use of sound-stage which often rooted the horror in the realm of nightmares, albeit ones filled with a tremendous amount of atmosphere.
Visually as whole though this film is not as striking as the other films in the Poe Cycle. And yet it features one of the jaw dropping moments to appear in any of the Poe’s. The scene in question is a dream sequence where The Lady Rowena Trevanion receives a bouquet of flowers with a dead fox in the middle the arrangement and said sequence sends with her in the arms of Verden Fell, passionately kissing. And though this is the more grounded of Corman’s Poe’s films, this sequence shows his knack for capturing what lays beyond on the surface and in the realm of one’s psyche.
When discussing The Tomb of Ligeia, so much of its criticism comes from the casting of Vincent Price in the role of the film’s protagonist Verden Fell. And reportedly the screenplay was written with a much younger actor in mind then Price, who was at the time twenty five years older than his leading lady Elizabeth Shepherd.
Fortunately for those who have seen Price in other roles known of his vast range as an actor and after the initial shock of seeing him for the first time, his exterior look from then on never proves to be intrusive. And though this is another solid performance from Price. The real star of this film is Elizabeth Shepherd in the dual roles of The Lady Rowena Trevanion and The Lady Ligeia. Another thing that ensures that this film remains engaging throughout is Price and Shepherd’s undeniable onscreen chemistry.
The Tomb of Ligeia comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, black levels fare well and details general look crisp. There are no issues with DNR or compression and grain looks natural. Overall though not as strong as the transfers included as part of Vincent Price in Six Gothic Tales. The end result is easily the best this film has looked to date on home video.
This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM Mono mix in English and an Isolated Music and Effects Track. Dialog always comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. There are no issues with distortion or background noise and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack fare well. This releases second audio track a music and effects track is much welcomed addition. Also included with this release is removable English SDH subtitles.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (2 minutes 31 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), four interviews, the first one with composer Kenneth V. Jones (6 minutes 19 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), the second one with clapper loader Bob Jordan (7 minutes 41 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), the third one with assistant director David Tringham (8 minutes 15 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) and the fourth interview with co-screenwriter Paul Mayersberg (24 minutes 25 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) and two audio commentaries, the first one with director Roger Corman and the second one with actress Elizabeth Shepard.
Topics discussed with composer Kenneth V. Jones include, difficulties that arose while trying compose the score for the film, his thoughts on the film and the score he composed for the film. Topics discussed with clapper loader Bob Jordan include, how he got involved in this film, shooting a film in widescreen, working with Vincent Price, overcoming the limitations of low budget cinema and special effects. Topics discussed with assistant director David Tringham include, how he got involved in this film, working with Roger Corman and adapting to his fast moving style of low budget filmmaking, Vincent Price and special effects. Topics discussed with co-screenwriter Paul Mayersberg include, working with Roger Corman, adapting Ligeia and screenwriter Robert Towne, locations, the look of the film and his thoughts on other films also directed by Corman.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary with Roger Corman include, how The Tomb of Ligeia was his second Poe film that he made in the UK and how the end result various drastically when compared to his previous Poe films, Vincent Price, the look of the film, the cast, how this film had a five week shooting schedule, British film crews verse Hollywood film crews and his thoughts on the films finale. Though there is a lot of interesting information on this track, there are many stretches and moments of dead silence. Topics discussed in the audio commentary with Elizabeth Shepard include, shooting on location, rehearsing scenes, the love story angle and Vincent Price in the role of the romantic leading man, her thoughts on the dual character’s she portrays, Gothic thrillers in color and her thoughts on the films finale. This audio commentary also has many stretches of silence.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art option and content pertaining to The Tomb of Ligeia in the limited edition 200-page collector’s book includes, original archive stills, cast & crew info, an essay titled ‘The Last of the Corman-Poes: Excavating The Tomb of Ligela’ written by Julian Upton, an excerpt written by Vincent Price from the chapter ‘Ghoul Days’ from the book ‘Vincent Price, His Movies, His Plays, His Life’, David De Valle’s text based interview with Roger Corman titled ‘Roger Corman: Better to be on the Set Than in the Office’, information about the transfer and a comic book adaptation for The Tomb of Ligeia.
The Tomb of Ligeia is also part of a box set entitled Vincent Price in Six Gothic Tales which also includes the following films, The Fall of House of Usher, The Pit and The Pendulum, The Haunted Palace, The Raven and Tales of Terror. Contents of this box set also include a limited edition 200-page collector’s book containing new writing on all films, an interview with Roger Corman, extracts from Vincent Price’s autobiography and full reproductions of tie-in comic books for Tales of Terror, The Raven and The Tomb of Ligeia originally published in the sixties. Overall The Tomb of Ligeia gets an exceptional release from Arrow Video, highly recommended.
Note: The Tomb of Ligeia is currently only available via Vincent Price in Six Gothic Tales and a stand-alone Blu-Ray on February 23rd, 2015.