Diary Of A Madman
Under the influence
Release Date: OUT NOW!
1963 | 15 | DVD Director: Reginald Le Borg Cast: Vincent Price, Nancy Kovack, Chris Warfield If actors’ CVs influenced their insurance, Vincent Price would have had a devil of a time trying to get fire cover in the ’ 60s. Back then, his films forever seemed to end with great houses going up in flames – and so it proves again here.
In adapting Guy De Maupassant’s 1887 short story “The Horla”, this period horror adds a great deal. It has to, as the original tale’s quite slight: an epistolary account of an anonymous man’s unravelling as he gradually realises he’s become subject to the will of the eponymous invisible entity. Clearly an influence on HP Lovecraft ( who singled it out for praise), it’s an important piece, but thin on incident.
Robert E Kent’s script makes the bedevilled protagonist a magistrate and also an art lover; this latter detail makes the role well- tailored for Price, himself an aesthete and collector. It also ladles on the romantic melodrama ( cue the strings), via a subplot where a coquettish gold- digger poses for his paintings.
It’s pretty insipid fare. The Horla spends an inordinate amount of time dramatically slamming windows like a sulky teenager, and for much of the duration the most evil act it drives its victim to is crushing a canary. Eventually the horror’s ramped up, with a jarring gear change, as the model meets a sticky end in a grotesque sequence surely inspired by Roger Corman’s A Bucket Of Blood. But by then it’s rather too late.
Extras: None. Ian Berriman