Retro Review: Diary of a Madman - Vincent Price at his brutal best

David Parkinson 30 November -0001

The film that inspired Ozzy Osbourne's second solo album is a treat for horror fans.

Cinema is an imitative medium and the acclaim for AIP's Poe cycle prompted other studios to cast Vincent Price in period horrors in the hope of enjoying similar commercial success. Adapted from the Guy de Maupassant story, 'La Horla', this is a neglected tale of possession that relies on Price's ability to generate pathos as well as terror.

As the 1880's Parisian magistrate seized by an evil-seeking entity, Price potently channels malevolence through dread and his reaction to crimes ranging from crushing a canary to decapitating a model are matched only by the anguish when he realises what he is doing on catching his reflection in a knife blade. Such set-pieces are slickly staged by Reginald Le Borg on Daniel Haller sets that are as evocative as anything he created for Roger Corman. Some of the support playing underwhelms, but Price's brutal battle with his inner demon(s) is unceasingly unsettling.
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