“Who spurs the beast the corpse will ride?
Who cries the cry that kills?
When Satan questioned, who replied?
Whence blows this wind that chills?
Who walks amongst these empty graves
And seeks a place to lie?
‘Tis something God ne’er had planned,
A thing that ne’er had learned to die.”
That poem is Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Bells” and it starts this movie, which is the last of the American-International Pictures Poe movies — Roger Corman had moved on and Gordon Hessler directed this one — and other than that, this movie had nothing to do with the Baltimorian author.
According to Peter Fuller on the site Spooky Isles, AIP promoted this movie as the hundreth film that its star Vincent Price was in. The truth is that it was prbably his seventy-sixth. Undaunted, AIP did the exact same publicity for his next movie, The Abominable Dr. Phibes.
This movie looks great — it was shot in the Grim’s Dyke House, the same location as Curse of the Crimson Altar and The Devil Rides Out — and it has an incredibly wonderful opening animation by Terry Gilliam that was cut from the American print.
Well, if you liked Vincent Price as a witchhunter in Witchfinder General, good news! He’s Lord Edward Whitman, who has decided that its time to destroy every witch in England, breaking up Black Masses and generally killing them left and right before one of them, Oona, possesses his loyal servant Roderick.
It’s also the movie that inspired a band to name themselves Siouxie and the Banshees.