by Jim Ridley
A decade before his New World Pictures booked a dubbed Cries and Whispers into Dixie drive-ins, Roger Corman delivered his own version of a brooding Bergman-esque morality play: The Masque of the Red Death, an adaptation of two Edgar Allan Poe short stories that suggests The Seventh Seal with a zestful dash of cigar-chomping vulgarity.
As demonic Prince Prospero, holed up in his castle with imperiled innocent Jane Asher and orgiastic Sadean nobles, Vincent Price presides over a pit of medieval depravity as he awaits a grisly reckoning from the plague raging outside. With his cinematographer, future director Nicolas Roeg, sloshing the screen with bucketfuls of saturated color, Corman creates an impressive atmosphere of psychedelic dread, as if anticipating the bad trips of the decade ahead.
The movie shows at 1:45 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at The Belcourt as part of the theater's tribute to Vincent Price. (Next weekend: House of Wax.)