The Masque of the Red Death (the seventh in a series of eight Edgar Allan Poe adaptions by director Roger Corman), is set in the middle ages and stars Vincent Price as Prince Prospero, a sadistic Satanist who we see at the start of the film visiting the village that he rules and discovering it is stricken with the plague – the Red Death.
Ordering that the village be burned to the ground, he takes naive young peasant girl Francesca (Jane Asher) back to his grand castle where she is tutored and dressed in the finest clothes by Prospero’s mistress Juliana (Hazel Court).
Overcome with jealousy, Juliana tries to help Francesca escape and pays the ultimate price for her treachery, while Francesca is faced with losing either her father or her lover (David Weston and Nigel Green) who have both also been imprisoned in the castle.
The Prince hosts a decadent masked ball for a swag of cavorting nobles, one of whom – Alfredo (Patrick Magee) – strikes dancer Esmerelda (Verina Greenlaw) and is subsequently tricked by her boyfriend – the court midget, Hop Toad (Skip Martin) – into performing a party trick involving an ape costume and a bottle of brandy which ends in the noble’s truly horrific fiery demise.
Red Death (voiced by John Westbrook) eventually arrives at the castle and passes fatally among the castle guests as the party becomes a dance of death, with the nobles succumbing to the plague while they keep swaying to the beat.
Prospero demands to see the true identity of the red-cloaked figure but under the cloak is his own dead and blood-spattered face. He has finally seen his own death.
At the film’s climax, all the colours of Death meet and reveal how many they have killed.
Corman produced an inferior quickie remake in 1989. Avoid it at all costs.
Jane Asher asked Roger Corman if a friend could visit the set and join them for lunch. She explained that her friend was a musician who was about to do his first gig in London that night. At the end of their lunch, Corman wished him good luck with his concert. Roger Corman had never heard of Paul McCartney until he read of the concert’s success in the next day’s newspapers.
Over two miles of corridors were built in sections spreading over three sound-stages for Jane Asher to run through while she was held captive.