The Masque of the Red Death: In the Footsteps of Mystical Horror

June 25, 2022

Written by Ella Rebecca Horton

Ella Rebecca has been in love with the horror genre since an early age. The Bride of Frankenstein began her love of the classics and she's been writing and collecting since.

Released in 1964, the film The Masque of the Red Death is an adaptation of another work by Edgar Poe, made by Roger Corman. In addition to The Masque of the Red Death, Corman also used the storyline of Hop-Frog in the film adaptation.


The Masque of the Red Death is the seventh collaboration between Roger Corman and Vincent Price. They could make excellent playmates at CasinoChan.


Corman’s style, which has become instantly identifiable, immediately stands out. But at the same time it differs from his earlier film adaptations of Poe’s works by its scale and sinister atmosphere.


Vincent Price portrays the ruthless Prince Prospero, who, hiding in the walls of a huge castle, worships the devil. He draws dozens of people into his bloody and dirty games, perverting everyone in order to please his idol. Prospero is the absolute embodiment of vice. He calmly and deliberately destroys everything human in people. However, the question arises, is Prospero alone to blame for the fall of all these people?


After all, each of them has a choice-to leave the castle, where the Red Death reigns, or to stay in the castle, turning into a bloodthirsty beast. And everyone prefers the second option.


Perhaps it is the fear of death that drives them to tear apart Prospero, for anyone in their position would do the same thing. There is, however, another character in this story: Francesca, whom the prince lures with his exquisite entertainment.


Despite the horror of the situation, the young woman’s faith is strong, and her soul is pure. And she is a kind of challenge for Prospero, because he does not manage to defile her soul in any way. Prospero resorts to both blackmail and cruelty, but Francesca does not want to obey him. She stands on a dangerous border, torn between her beliefs and an inexplicable attraction that she feels for the prince. Being the opposite of Francesca, Prospero is a crazy fanatic who, for the sake of serving the evil, is ready to kill, torture and humiliate over and over again. But he could not have done anything if he had not been surrounded by people deprived of dignity and human qualities. That is, the main idea of the film is that human sins are a much more serious phenomenon than the deadly infection threatening them, since they are already, without the Red Death, sick with their sins.


The film is groundbreaking, first and foremost in terms of its subject. It is a well-known fact that the theme of Satanism was brought to the cinema with the film Rosemary’s Baby, followed by The Exorcist and The Omen, however, in The Masque of the Red Death, before all these films, the theme of Satanism is already presented.


From this it can be concluded that directors Roman Polanski, William Friedkin, James Wan and others who included this topic in their films, were greatly influenced by The Masque of the Red Death


The Masque of the Red Death became a culmination of all of Corman’s directorial activity, as well as one of his best works. This film reflects not only Poe’s skill, but also Corman’s distinctive style. The Masque of the Red Death is still regarded as one of the horror genre’s classics.

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