Being both an avid viewer of horror movies and reading novels on the same topic, when visiting a local used bookstore I located a biography on one my favorite actors, Vincent Price, so many fans can name at least three of his films, in less than 30-seconds. I can easily recall his devilish grin and the cunning deliberate voice, the ability to capture a room upon his entering, and then villainous characters along with his hosting of PBS’ Mystery intros and outros all situated in haunted house and artwork surrounding him, when he was in his 70’s constantly working like his counterpart Christopher Lee. Many readers may not know he was extremely kind and polite in person, especially to his fans, a gourmet cook and of course, an enthusiastic collector of art as well as an art expert, he set up programs from the aspiring artists, and upon his death, a house filled with numerous paintings.
Victoria Price, his daughter, gives a thorough exploration of her father’s life, the good, the bad and the ugly, noting the affairs, and issues therein, never painting a rosy picture of his career, showing the sins, and how they affected him. She definitely generated a colorful history, and showed his film success as well as the failures, but noting his high-class upbringing, how he dealt with the blacklist era in Hollywood and near the end, taking the position to speak out against the backlash to those with AIDS. The book contains wonderful moments involving Roger Corman and his numerous works on gothic tales from Poe’s great stories, still living on in today’s horror genre. In addition, a wonderful segment on his singing aspect, a the luxury of working with Alice Cooper on his Welcome to My Nightmare album and music video, to the less than enjoyment involvement with Michael Jackson and his song Thriller. That second venture angered him greatly, but one can read the insight for you to discover.
This book likely appeals to fans of Price, his craft and body of work, especially in horror, but also those curious of his detail history of art, however many golden nuggets reveal themselves with regard to early days of Hollywood. A world forgotten by many except the cinema buffs, who likely enjoy books about the stars of yesteryear, and in the reading of it, sounds as his Vincent beside oneself his voice transcending time and space. In fact, one likely learns of his dedication to constant work, seeded in a psychological debate of respectable to his craft, sometimes which most in the film business often wonder about their career, how do I convey my work ethnic and remember by future generations?
This book takes readers and fans on a greatly detail and no bias path from Vincent’s early life to the end, allowing one to learn so much depth from him, sometimes becoming a tad too long winded, but how does one summarize one’s suave career from early dramatic roles to the gothic villain, over 200 acting roles. Now the book is not without fault, a bit too detailed, one doesn’t need to cover on his trips unless significantly important of meeting someone, a timeline format work just as well. The endless carrying on of his social interactions, the constant dropping of known names, becomes very tedious.
Lastly, it is important for the reader to overlook the minutia of details and enjoy a well written, balanced book on Vincent’s life and his crafty tone and demeanor of gothic acting that may never grace any set again. This book while small in print, still finds itself highly recommended for any fan of Price, both father and daughter Vincent and Victoria, respectively, and contains a series of photos from the Price Family Collection.
Victoria Price, Author St. Martin’s Press $7.95
Release date: 11/01/1999
Paperback – 467 pages