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Price/Hawthorne anthology returns to Blu-ray 4 Stars

One of the giants of American literature, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s works have been plum material for cinematic adaptation. His novel The Scarlet Letter has been adapted 11 times so far (most notably the Lillian Gish starring vehicle by Victor Sjöström for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1926 and infamously by Roland Joffé in 1995) and his Gothic The House of Seven Gables got a memorable (and Oscar-nominated) adaptation in 1940 with Vincent Price in the cast. 23 years later, the latter story was joined with two other Hawthorne works – and Price returned to appear in all three stories – to create United Artists’ attempt to cash in on the success of AIP’s cycle of Edgar Allan Poe movies, Twice-Told Tales. Previously released on Blu-ray – through a licensing deal with MGM – in 2015 by Kino (HTF’s own Matt Hough reviewed that release here), Kino has brought the film back into print with this re-release.

Twice-Told Tales (1963)
Released: 30 Oct 1963
Rated: Approved
Runtime: 120 min
Director: Sidney Salkow
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Romance
Cast: Vincent Price, Sebastian Cabot, Brett Halsey
Writer(s): Nathaniel Hawthorne, Robert E. Kent
Plot: Three horror stories based on the writings of Nathaniel Hawthorne. In the first story titled "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment", Heidegger attempts to restore the youth of himself, his fiancee and his best friend. In "Rappaccini's Daugh...
IMDB rating: 6.6
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: MGM
Distributed By: Kino Lorber
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 2 Hr. 2 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: Blue keep case with slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 09/06/2022
MSRP: $24.99

The Production: 3.5/5

Three tales of the eerie and bizarre from literary legend Nathaniel Hawthorne are given the cinematic treatment in this anthology. In “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment”, longtime friends Carl (Sebastian Cabot) and Alex (Vincent Price) discover water with rejuvenating qualities in the former’s nearby crypt; when this special water also revives Carl’s long deceased fiancée Sylvia (Mari Blanchard), it also revives a secret love triangle between the trio. In “Rappaccini’s Daughter”, a university student (Brett Halsey) falls in love at first sight with the daughter (Joyce Taylor) of a reclusive former professor (Price once again), who has treated her with a plant extract that gives her the touch of death; when father realizes that his daughter’s in love with the student, he comes up with a plan for the two to be together, but it also sets a tragedy in motion. Finally, in “The House of the Seven Gables”, Gerald Pyncheon (Price one more time) returns to the family home with his bride Alice (Beverly Garland) but also to a curse placed on the family by the home’s original owner; when a descendant (Richard Denning) of said owner arrives, it’s the beginning of the end for the Pyncheon family.

As far most anthology films of the era go, Twice-Told Tales is a decent and nicely done affair here. Much like AIP’s Tales of Terror a year prior, Vincent Price appears in all three segments and brings his usual debonair and macabre sensibilities to each one with great ease; he also has some solid support from the likes of Sebastian Cabot, Brett Halsey, Richard Denning, Joyce Taylor, Beverly Garland and Jacqueline deWit as well. The direction of Sidney Salkow is steady throughout, maintaining interest as well as adding some style to the proceedings; the camerawork of Ellis W. Carter should also be commended as well. However, the only downside is that each story feels a bit padded out as well as a bit static in places as well; purists will likely lament the fact that The House of the Seven Gables feels hollowed out from its original source (Joe May’s 1940 adaptation also diverges from the original Hawthorne novel as well, but that’s another story). Nevertheless, Twice-Told Tales is still a solid entry in the wave of omnibus horror films that was starting to take form in the 1960’s.

Video: 4/5

3D Rating: NA

The film is presented in its original 1:85:1 aspect ratio, taken from the same HD transfer Kino used for their initial 2015 Blu-ray release of the movie. Film grain, color palette, skin tones and fine details appear to be faithfully represented with minimal instances of scratches, tears, nicks and dirt present. Overall, this Blu-ray re-release is on par visually with the original Blu-ray release of the movie, meaning that this is still the best the film has ever looked on home video.

Audio: 5/5

The film’s original mono soundtrack is presented on a DTS-HD Master Audio track for this release. Dialogue, sound mix and Richard LaSalle’s music score are all faithfully presented with minimal cases of distortion, hissing, popping or crackling present. Again, this Blu-ray re-release is on par with the previous Kino Blu-ray and still the best the movie will ever sound on home video.

Special Features: 3/5

Commentary by film historians Richard Harland Smith & Perry Martin – Recorded for the 2015 Kino Blu-ray, Smith and Martin talks about the film’s production history, cast and crew bios and the origins of the three Hawthorne stories depicted in the film.

Trailers from Hell with Mick Garris (3:05)

Theatrical Trailer (2:43)

Bonus KLSC Trailers – Tales of Terror, Master of the World, The Raven (1963), The Comedy of Terrors, The Last Man on Earth, The Tomb of Ligeia, The Oblong Box, Scream and Scream Again, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Dr. Phibes Rises Again, Theater of Blood & House of the Long Shadows

Overall: 4/5

Overshadowed by AIP’s cycle of horror films during initial release, Twice-Told Tales is still one of the more notable efforts of Vincent Price outside of the studio at the peak of his popularity. Kino has resurrected the film from the out-of-print dead with this solid re-release, carrying over the solid HD transfer and special features from the previous Blu-ray release. Very highly recommended, especially if you missed out on picking up a copy the first time around.

Amazon.com: Twice Told Tales: Vincent Price, Sebastian Cabot, Brett Halsey, Beverly Garland, Mari Blanchard, Richard Denning, Jacqueline deWit, Joyce Taylor, Edith Evanson, Abraham Sofaer, Sidney Salkow: Movies & TV

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