Roger Corman's Tales of Terror stars Vincent Price in a trio of short stories, liberally adapted by Richard Matheson from the works of Edgar Allan Poe. The film gets off to a rousing start with "Morella," in which Price's bitterness over the long-ago death of his wife results in tragedy for his estranged daughter Maggie Pierce. The last of the three terror-filled tales, "The Case of Mr. Valdemar," finds Price being put into a state of suspended animation by the diabolical Basil Rathbone; when Rathbone claims Price's bride Debra Paget for himself, Price briefly revives, only to melt before our eyes (this horrific image was reproduced on the film's advertising posters). The film's best story is its centerpiece, "The Black Cat," which weaves elements of "The Cask of Amontillado" into a mordantly funny revenge tale concerning Price, his bitter enemy Peter Lorre, and Lorre's two-timing wife Joyce Jameson. This is the one in which a besotted Lorre walls up Price and Jameson in his cellar, then endures a hellish hallucination of Vincent and Joyce playing a football game with his head! A mixed bag, to be sure, but Tales of Terror remains one of the best of Corman's Poe cycle (though it does lose a lot when not shown in its original Cinemascope form).
by Hal Erickson synopsis