I've spent more than a few days trying to come up with a great idea for an article on a man that many people would instantly recognize as the face of horror, Vincent Price. Before I was even old enough to have watched my first horror film I knew who he was and I knew what he represented. Mr. Price would have turned 100 years old this May and it is only fitting that we here at HorrorBid take a look back at the late, great man who helped solidify this great genre we all love...
I could easily sit here and throw film names at you and give you synopsis after synopsis of his acting career or you could just simply Google Vincent Price and find all that information in about 2 minutes. The man has 183 acting credits on his IMDB alone and of those I've probably only seen but a handful. You may wonder why I choose to write an article about Price when my knowledge may be lacking but I think it's the perfect example of just how important Vincent Price really is. Even if you haven't seen one of his films you will still know his name or recognize his distinctive voice, face and laugh. And boy did he have a great laugh.
Anyone could find out the details of his life so I'm not even going to bother. He was born, he died, the horror world is short another amazing personality. I don't see the point in serving up facts that are easily discovered. What I wanted to offer is my own personal memories of Price. Just about all of those memories of Vincent Price come from television. I can remember watching old Batman shows where Price would sometimes appear as the villain Egghead. Quite possibly one of the corniest bad guys that ever faced Batman and Robin. The egg puns were never-ending and it's not exactly the best example of Price as the horror icon most know him as but when it comes to Vincent Price, every role he had was injected with that certain something.
Of course any kid who grew up in the 80's should remember Price when he appeared in The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo. Voicing the role of Vincent VanGhoul, he helped Scooby and the gang try and trap the 13 ghosts they had accidentally released from the chest of demons. Funny thing is that they only managed to capture 12 of them before the series ended! Price's legendary voice adds a certain horror charm to a series that built itself and monsters, ghosts and goblins.
Also coming out of the 80's is one of the few things that has ever scared me in my life. Michael Jackson's Thriller. Again, Price's perfect voice is used in the song as he provides a 'rap' while zombies crawl from their graves. My parent's friends had this video and they put it on one time while we were visiting. I must have had the worst nightmares that night and this would be my first look into the world of horror. Interesting that Price plays such an important role in scaring the crap out of me and turning me into the horror fiend that I am now. Check out the video and watch as Jackson leaves the theatre at the beginning. Price's name appears on the marquee and posters for House of Wax and Masque of the Red Death are plastered all over the outside of the building. Of course, how could anyone forget that laugh at the end of the video. Damn, Vincent Price can still make my blood run cold just thinking about it.
Now we're finally getting to my two favorite memories of Price, one is actually very Canadian and still draws puzzled looks from people. I'll start with the more obvious one though. On October 19th, 1976, the day after my birth actually, The Muppet Show featuring Vincent Price as host aired for the first time. This has always been my favorite episode of The Muppet Show since I was a little kid. Price shows up in a sketch featuring Fozzie and Gonzo as they show up at an ominous looking castle which Gonzo had rented for their summer cottage. Price arrives looking for a room since his horse got a flat. Trouble starts as Price turns into a horrible monster at the stroke of midnight but it's not exactly the kind of scary monster you would expect! There's also a sketch with Price and Kermit having a chat when Price shows Kermit how he can grow fangs. He begins to explain how it took years of training when Kermit suddenly grows fangs and bites Price on the neck. The entire episode is full of ghosts, goblins and horror themed ideas. A great tribute to the career that Price had built in the genre.
Finally we reach the one memory that was the biggest part of my childhood and the one that many people just don't know of or remember. Running in Canada in syndication still to this day, The Hilarious House of Frightenstein was my ongoing introduction into the world of kiddie horror. Vincent Price introduced each sequence of the show by reading a typically cheesy poem surrounded by equally cheesy set designs. The show was an odd blend of classic monster spoofs and education and was something I never missed as a kid. Price's charm and voice lent the show a bit of credibility and probably got it a lot more air time than it ever would have received otherwise.
The show would open with Vincent Price's floating head laughing and reciting the creepy introduction and I'm willing to bet that a lot of us Canadian horror brats grew up on this show. Its reach into the States wasn't very large and it seems like most of the American memories of the show come out of the Buffalo area. I really wish they would produce stuff like that now as it was a great way for the kids to enjoy some horror themed fun without being scared to death.
While my personal knowledge of Vincent Price the actor is limited to just a small portion of his film work, his image and voice are such a large part of my childhood TV viewing that I've grown up with him around every corner. Even then he commanded a respect that very few actors receive and his place in the horror world can never be taken away. This year would have been his 100th birthday and while many will remember him for his extensive work in the film industry, I'll always remember him as the laugh that scared me as a child, the charming and sophisticated man who got bitten by Kermit and the creepy guy who read all those bad poems every Saturday morning while I ate my cereal. Vincent Price will forever be remember for so many things to so many different people. We'd love to hear your stories below as well.
Source: HorrorBid Columnist "Canadian Will"
There is something about Price that screams creepy but at the same time I always thought of him as someone's grandpa. I'm sure he would have been a complete joy to be around.
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