The last third makes it all worthwhile. There are three adaptions of Nathaniel Hawthorne stories with Vincent Price in all three.
“Dr.Heidegger’s Secret” published in 1837 – Old friends Alex Medbourne (Vincent Price) and Dr.Heidegger (Sebastian Cabot) are observing Heidegger’s seventy-ninth birthday. He asks Alex that if he doesn’t make it to age eighty he wants a withered rose his late fiancee Sylvia left him buried with him. She’s been dead for thirty-eight years. She became ill right before their wedding. Heidegger never married and remained devoted to her.
A rainstorm ends and Heidegger spots the door of his wife’s crypt is open. They go in nd spot water dripping from the ceiling. As they move the coffin out of the way the lid comes off. Sylvia is perfectly preserved. Heidegger takes the water back inside and puts it under a microscope. It’s not water.
Heidegger thinks it may be a preservative and takes a drink. He becomes younger and then it’s Alex’s turn. Time now to see if it will bring the dead back to life. Heidegger injects some into Sylvia (Mari Blanchard).
“Rappaccini’s Daughter” published in 1844 – Beatrice Rappaccini (Joyce Taylor) has lived with her father for twenty years and never leaves the house. She’s sustained by a serum from a plant. Anything she touches dies and her father Giacomo (Vincent Price) has to wear gloves in case of an accident.
She draws the attention of the university student next door, Giovanni (Brett Halsey). He likes what he sees. She tells him not to come down to the garden to see her. That won’t stop him. His professor (Abraham Sofaer) says Giacomo was a top scientist. His wife ran off with another man when Beatrice was born and he left the university.
Giovanni decides to take some flowers to Beatrice. He grabs the key to the garden door from the landlady and lets himself in. He sees a butterfly land on a purple plant and go up in a flame. Beatrice tells him to leave. She explains what’s wrong with her and proves it by touching a lizard. It’s stone cold dead. She runs off and he leaves the flowers. He also picks up the lizard and takes it to his professor. He drops the flowers and goes. Giacomo puts the flowers in her hands and they die. He has a plan.
This is the weakest of the three thanks in part to the uninspired acting from Halsey and Taylor.
“The House Of The Seven Gables” published in 1851 – This is one of Hawthorne’s best known classic novels. It’s about a family curse, ghosts, a house that drips blood and greed.
Gerald Pyncheon (Vincent Price) returns home after seventeen years with his bride Alice (Beverly Garland). His sister Hannah isn’t happy to see him. Strange things start happening to Alice. A locket floats onto a dresser and inside a painting that looks just like her.
Downstairs she starts to play the harpsichord and says a man named Jonathan Maulle (Richard Denning) is on his way. Gerald sent him a note earlier in the day but didn’t mention that to Alice. The Pyncheons’ and Maulles’ have been feuding for a hundred fifty years. Gerald’s ancestor, a judge, wanted the land the house is on and had the builder, blacksmith Matthew Maulle, hanged for practicing witchcraft.
Jonathan asks Alice how she knew the piece she was playing. He says his grandmother used to play it when he was a child. She doesn’t have a clue. There are bloodstains on a chair. Hannah explains that every male Pyncheon has died with blood on his lips including the judge whose portrait hangs in the room.
Later on Alice hears a ghostly voice calling for Nora. She goes outside and sees the ghost of Matthew. He turns into Jonathan. They realize that a hundred fifty years ago they were lovers. Looks like the remnants are still there as Gerald looks on.
Gerald really returned home because he’s broke and wants to find a hidden vault in the basement. Matthew is buried there along with directions to a fortune.
The book is a lot different but the core is there. It’s still worth reading all these years later. As for this part of the movie it is a must see.