The Roger Corman directed Vincent Price movies based on Edgar Allan Poe stories were so popular for AIP that when Corman directed Price in this H.P. Lovecraft adaptation of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, they changed the name to make you think you were getting a Poe movie.
Price stars as a warlock who was burned at the stake by a mob of angry villagers. While burning, he curses the town and vows to return from the dead to haunt them. Centuries later, his descendant Charles Dexter Ward (also Price) inherits the castle and moves into town, despite the audible protests of the villagers. Slowly but surely Ward becomes possessed by his ancestor’s spirit and soon returns to his devious ways.
The Haunted Palace is in some ways reminiscent of Mario Bava’s Black Sunday and while it’s nowhere near the same league as that classic, it still is required viewing for Corman and Price fans. Like most of Corman’s Poe movies, the film moves at a deliberate pace. Even when things are slow-going, Corman heaps on tons of gothic atmosphere to keep you watching. The magnificently atmospheric shots of foggy graveyards and creepy castle corridors are all elegantly filmed and make a perfect setting for Price to go absolutely insane. The excellent score by Ronald Stein enhances the mood perfectly and those shots of eyeless mutants and angry “Old Ones” are pretty tight as well.
Price is aces when dealing with the conflicting personalities of Ward and his malevolent ancestor. He has an amiable rapport with Lon Chaney, Jr., who plays the faithful caretaker, and the pair makes for a fine team. The scenes involving the irritable townspeople complaining about Price’s antics kinda gum up the works; however the film is just peachy whenever Price gets crazy as an outhouse rat.
AKA: The Haunted Village.