Plot: What’s it about?
Twice Told Tales is a collection of three horrific stories, told in sequence to enhance the sheer terror found within each one. The first is Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment, in which the good Doctor has noble intentions, but lives to regret the work he has done. He seeks to discover a fountain of youth of sorts, in order to restore the youth of his friends, who have gotten a shade long in the tooth. But as Dr. Heidegger discovers, sometimes finding a miracle can backfire, in most disturbing fashion, to be sure. In Rappacini’s Daughter, we watch as a father’s love for his young daughter turns to a darker side and then some. This man would do anything to make sure his little girl never leaves, but when that desire turns poisonous, his love could become lethal. The final tale is The House of the Seven Gables, a story of intense greed within a wealthy family. As tempers flare over a large inheritance, some family members will do anything to gain the cash, perhaps even murder. This trio of ghastly tales is not for the fright of heart and as the original poster art warned, no demonophobiacs are allowed to view this picture!
You don’t see too many horror anthology pictures these days, but there was a time when those kind of releases were common. One such movie is Twice Told Tales, based on the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne and starring the great Vincent Price. Price (Theater of Blood, The Abominable Dr. Phibes) can be seen in many of these kind of pictures and while this isn’t the best one, it is still a cool movie, I think. Twice Told Tales has a great case headed by Price, ample direction from Sidney Salkow (The Last Man on Earth), and of course, the eerie atmosphere needed for stories of this kind. These are horror tales after all and as such, suspense is needed and in this case, that is more than supplied, via visuals and the performances. A piece of material is only as effective as the actors who use it and since this case is terrific, Hawthorne’s great material remains as such, from start to finish. I think this is a very cool movie based on some great material, which means this is of course, more than recommended. As usual with their Midnight Movies line, MGM hasn’t included much in terms of extras, but the price is so low, the disc is still worth a look.
Video: How does it look?
Twice Told Tales is presented in a 1.66:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. I wasn’t expecting much here, as previous editions have been less than stellar, but the image is pretty good, which should please fans. I still saw some grain, marks, and even tears in places, but the image is improved over prior versions, to be sure. I think anamorphic treatment would have cleared up the edge enhancement and shimmering sometimes seen, but MGM still refuses to enhance 1.66:1 titles. The colors and contrast look good, with bright hues and stark black levels, but don’t expect too much here. This is the best presentation home theaters have seen to date, but it could have been better, especially if enhanced for widescreen televisions.
Audio: How does it sound?
The original mono option is used here, which means the experience is limited, but I wasn’t too let down here. I heard no serious instances of hiss, distortion, or other age related issues, but the track is a little thin, as expected. The elements come across well and without real flaws, but just seem a tad thin, due to the age of the materials, I suspect. The music is clear and solid, while sound effects are a little restrained, but surface in fine enough form. No trouble with the dialogue however, as vocals seem clean and crisp throughout. This disc also includes subtitles in Spanish and French, in case you should need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes the film’s original theatrical trailer.