Gothic Reviews: The Haunted Palace and The Last One Left
Who doesn’t love some gothic goodness? Spooky old houses! Repressed sexuality! Dread!
I recently watched The Haunted Palace with Vincent Price. It’s about how Vincent Price inherits a gigantic castle in Massachusetts(!) and gets possessed by the evil spirit of his ancestor who originally owned the joint!
It’s a fun time, if not as colorful as Masque of the Red Death. Kind of like a Hammer movie with less cleavage. For a fun bonus, it features a couple of guys who were on every TV show in the 1970s! (If you watch the movie, you’ll know them immediately, and look them up on IMDB trying to figure out where you know them from, then realize it could be literally any network TV program from 1970-80!). There’s a pretty big plot hole, but the end is great and it delivers the spooky atmosphere. Disappointing that Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth are mentioned but never make an appearance in the film. Whaddya got against elder gods, Roger Corman?
The Last One Left is a gothic novel by Riley Sager about a home health aide who comes to care for an old woman who may or may not have killed her parents and sister years earlier. It’s a pretty engaging read, but…well, there are many pleasures to be had from reading, and, in the mystery genre, I realize that what I really like is spending time with a cool protagonist while they try to unravel the mystery. I’m less interested in the solution.
Well, this book is all about the solution. The protagonist isn’t much of a character—just kind of an information-gathering machine. The solution is unexpected and brilliantly constructed, but…there are like five big plot twists in the last quarter of the book. After the first one, I was like, “Oh, cool!” by the fifth one I was like, “Really? Another one?” Ultimately the whole rest of the book is setting up the cleverness of the last quarter. If you like a clever solution and multiple plot twists, this is a good pick for you. If you’re like me…well, it’s still a very entertaining book. But be forewarned you may be rolling your eyes at the end.