VINCENTENNIAL Nominated for a Rondo Award for Best Fan Event
Vincentennial, the Vincent Price 100th Birthday Celebration, which took place here in St. Louis last Spring and was covered in depth at We Are Movie Geeks, has been nominated for a Rondo Award for “Best Fan Event”. Now in their tenth year, The Rondo Awards are prestigious Fan Awards given out annually for the year’s best horror-related stuff–movies, magazines,articles, toys, etc. The Rondos are completely fan-based; nominees are selected by horror film fans and focus specifically on the horror genre. The awards are debated at The Classic Horror Film Board and presented at the Wonderfest Hobby Expo in May in Louisville, KY. The awards are named for Rondo Hatton, the 1940′s-era character actor whose glandular disease resulted in a misshapen face and brutish appearance (an article I wrote for WAMG about Mr. Hatton can be found HERE)
The Rondos have 31 categories covering all aspects of film and the horror genre in general, including Best Horror Film of 2011, Best Magazine, Best Blog, Best Convention, and so on. The winner of each category receives a nifty award: a bust of actor Rondo Hatton as he appeared in the 1946 film HOUSE OF HORRORS. The Rondo Awards are prestigious due to the fact that they are selected by horror fans for horror fans and, as Event Director of Vincentennial, I’m very honored to receive this nomination and am glad I was able to make some sort of meaningful contribution to horror culture last year.
So, IF you attended any of the Vincentennial events in May, feel free to vote for Vincentennial for Best Fan Event (category #20). Do NOT vote if you did not attend. The Rondos are completely fan-based, and ballot stuffing is prohibited. Voting occurs by e-mail; voters are to copy and paste the ballot onto an e-mail and mark their selections. The website also includes links to past winners as well as more information about the Rondo Awards.
The Rondo Site with ballot can be found HERE
Also, if you’re a Vincent Price fan, visit Rick Squire’s site The Vincent Price Exhibit (http://vincentpriceexhibit.com/). Rick worked closely with us on Vincentennial and his site, much of it dedicated to his massive collection of Vincent Price memorabilia,Â is Rondo-nominated as well. If you enjoy the site (you will spend hours there!), vote for it for Best Website (category #20).
The purpose of this article is to provide some background and a summary of Vincentennial. As regular readers of WAMG know, I host the monthly film festival Super-8 Movie Madness at a local nightclub called The Way Out Club where I show a dozen or so of the old condensed versions of movies on super-8 sound film. Sometimes I have theme nights. Almost two years ago I did a Charles Bronson night where I showed several condensed films starring the rugged actor and decorated the club with Bronson movie memorabilia. A close friend of mine, Maggie Sherrill, suggested I do a similar Vincent Price night the next spring and call it Vincentennial to tie in with his 100th birthday. I thought it was a great idea and began planning Vincentennial, a one-night party at The Way Out Club. But the scope of the event grew in my head and I decided a full-blown film festival in conjunction with an exhibit would be more appropriate than a one-night film show. Everyone in St. Louis I ran the idea by thought it was a good one. I eventually approached Cliff Froelich, the executive director of Cinema St. Louis, a non-profit movie-related event planning group that runs the St. Louis International Film Festival every fall, and suggested joining forces for a Vincent Price film festival. I’m an active volunteer at Cinema St. Louis and knew Cliff had the resources, connections, and patrons to pull off a professional film fest. He was very receptive to the idea, so Vincentennial eventually fell under the umbrella of Cinema St. Louis with me given the title Event Director. Vincent Price’s daughter Victoria Price got involved in Vincentennial as I had contacted her very early in the process. She said she had thought St. Louis would be the perfect place to honor her father with an event like Vincentennial. She had even contacted the St. Louis Art Museum before I contacted her to see if they were interested in hosting something, but that venue was under renovation and she didn’t know where to turn. The other guest of honor that we thought was important to secure was Roger Corman, who of course directed all the great Vincent Price/Edgar Allan Poe films in the 1960′s. I thought it was a long shot getting Corman to come, especially since we didn’t formally extend the invitation until November, but it turns out Corman’s wife Julie was from St. Louis and he agreed to attend if we flew her in as well. When Cliff asked who I thought would be a good person to conduct the interviews with Corman, I immediately answered Tim Lucas, editor of Video Watchdog magazine and author of the book Mario Bava All the Colors of the Dark. I knew that Tim had written a screenplay about Corman and the making of his 1968 film THE TRIP. I was surprised that Tim had never met Roger Corman and was thrilled when Tim accepted our invitation to conduct the Corman interviews. We also brought in important Vincent Price scholars to help introduce the films
Some of the historical items that were part of the The Vincentennial Vincent Price Legacy Exhibit
Vincentennial featured two popular Vincent Price exhibits. The Vincentennial Vincent Price Legacy Exhibit opened April 22 at The Sheldon Concert Hall and Galleries in St. Louis and ran through August. This exhibit was one of historical artifacts, movie memorabilia, and collectibles all celebrating the life and career of Vincent Price.
Movie memorabilia displayed and Cortland Hull’s life-size figures
Robert Taylor, Sara Waugh, Rick Squires, Jenni Nolan O’Dell, and Cortland Hull are Vincent Price collectors scattered across the country and they all lent items from their collections as did several St. Louis-based memorabilia collectors. Robert and Sara lent one-of-a-kind pieces from Price’s childhood and youth, Rick lent just a fraction of his enormous collection of ephemera and collectibles from all aspects of Price’s career (check out Rick’s site at http://vincentpriceexhibit.com/), and Cortland brought (among other things) his life-size figures of Dr. Phibes and Professor Jarrod from HOUSE OF WAX, which wore the original outfit that Vincent Price wore in that 1953 film.
Some of the various Vincent Price figures, toys, and model kits
There were displays of movie and theater posters, stills, toys, and resin model kits in the exhibit as well. Rick Squires gave an informative exhibit talk at The Sheldon when he was in town as did Robert Taylor. The folks at The Sheldon estimated that over 10,000 people viewed the exhibit during its 4-month run.
With Cortland Hull just after we had set up his figures for the exhibit
The Vincent Price Presents at the Star Clipper Exhibit
The other exhibit was Vincent Price Presents at the Star Clipper which opened in late April at the gallery at Star Clipper Comics, St. Louis’ premiere comic shop, and ran through June. This exhibit featured illustrations of Vincent Price by Joel Robinson, who created the vivid covers for the first eight issues of Bluewater Comics’ Vincent Price Presents series (as well as the Vincentennial logo), and Shana Bilbrey, a popular genre artist and regular contributor to Little Shop of Horrors and other publications. More than a dozen talented St. Louis-area artists filled out the exhibit with paintings and illustrations of Vincent Price including Ron Lizorty, Jim Batts, Paul Daly, Russ Rosener, and many more.
St. Louis’ Hi-Pointe Theater, home of The Vincentennial Vincent Price Film Festival
The heart of Vincentennial was The Vincentennial Vincent Price Film Festival in St. Louis which ran 10 days and featured screenings of 20 Vincent Price movies. The fest started at the Missouri History Museum with a screening of THE FLY preceded by Michael Jackson’s Thriller complete with a Vincent Price look-a-like contest, dancers, and The Fly in attendance. The film fest then moved to the palatial Hi-Pointe Theater, an old-school style movie palace just a couple of blocks from where Vincent Price grew up.
A 35mm print of THE LAST MAN ON EARTH was shown and introduced by Rick Squires, curator of The Vincent Price Exhibit website. This was followed by a showing of THE TINGLER which was presented in its original gimmick Percepto with a taped introduction by Joe Dante and post-film discussion by The Film Forum’s Bruce Goldstein who helped recreate the gimmick. The next day Rick Squires introduced and post-film discussed a 35mm print of THEATER OF BLOOD which was followed by THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM with an introduction and post-film discussion by Jonathan Malcolm Lampley, author of Women in the Horror Films of Vincent Price. That night was the first of our two Evening with Roger Corman presentations.
Roger Corman on-stage with Tim Lucas and with his wife Julie
We screened a 35mm print of TOMB OF LIGEIA that was preceded by a 70-minute on-stage interview with legendary director Roger Corman that was conducted by Video Watchdog’s Tim Lucas. This in-depth interview focused on Corman’s collaborations with Vincent Price. Price’s LIGEIA co-star Elizabeth Sheppard was invited to the event but had committed to a stage play, but she filmed a moving 5-minute testimonial about working with Price and Corman that we played after the movie ended. The next day featured a matinee double feature of THE RAVEN and THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES at the Missouri History Museum and later that afternoon we were back at The Hi-Pointe for a 35mm screening of HOUSE OF USHER introduced by Jonathan Malcolm Lampley. That night was the second Evening with Roger Corman. Tim Lucas again sat down with Roger Corman for an 80-minute interview that focused this time on Corman’s amazing overall career. After the interview we presented Mr. Corman a lifetime achievement award and screened a 35mm print of MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH that came from the personal collection of Joe Dante.
Roger Corman reading one of our Vincentennial publications and receiving his lifetime achievement award
The next night we moved the film fest to Brown Hall on the campus of Washington University. If you stood at the entrance to Brown Hall, you were directly across the street from Vincent Price’s boyhood home. The first night there was a double feature of LAURA and DRAGONWYCK with introductions and a post-film discussion of LAURA by Washington University film & media professor Gaylyn Studlar. The next night we showed THE WHALES OF AUGUSTÂ followed by VINCENT PRICE, THE SINISTER IMAGE, the 60-minute interview with Vincent Price conducted by David Del Valle in 1987. We followed this with an actual on-stage interview with Vincent Price’s daughter Victoria Price conducted by Mr. Del Valle, seated in a way similar to the interview from 24 years earlier. Victoria really opened up about her father, the rest of her family and what it was like growing up as Vincent Price’s daughter. The final double feature the next night was a 35mm print of the British cut of WITCHFINDER GENERAL followed by a 35mm print of CHAMPAGNE FOR CAESAR. We were supposed to show THE BARON OF ARIZONA and HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL but had tech problems with one and exhibition rights issues with the other. Both films were shown in November at the St. Louis International Film Festival where we recreated Emergo for HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL.
Victoria Price being interviewed by David Del Valle
On Vincent Price’s 100th birthday, May 27th, his daughter Victoria Price gave an amazing 2-hour plus multimedia lecture entitled The Vincent Price Legacy: Reflections From a Daughter at the Missouri History Museum. This was a mesmerizing one-woman show performed by the charismatic Ms Price who held the standing-room-only audience spellbound as she brought her father back to life through reminiscing, photos and film clips. She even got her half-brother Vincent Barrett Price involved. ‘Barrett’ is famously known for his reticence when it comes to speaking about his famous legacy but he sat down for this occasion and let his sister film several minutes of fascinating testimonial. For most who attended several of the Vincentennial events, Victoria’s presentation was the highlight.
Victoria Price’s presentation at the Missouri History Museum and her half-brother Vincent Barrett Price
When Victoria Price was in town, we took her to her father’s high school, St. Louis Country Day School (now known as MICDS) where Cliff Saxton, the school’s archivist, showed her clippings and photos of her father in his youth that she had never seen. She toured the school’s Vincent Price Theater and was forced to sit in a hallway of lockers at the school during a tornado alert (she claims to have found this “very exciting”). The private school got the money ball rolling in terms of fundraising for Vincentennial and became the presenting sponsor of the event. Victoria also attended Robert Taylor’s gallery talk at The Sheldon while she was in town.
Victoria Price with Cliff Saxton at her father’s High School and during a tornado alarm there.
The final event was an outdoor screening of EDWARD SCISSORHANDS at one of the Muny Opera’s outdoor pavilions. Over 450 people brought lawn chairs to see Vincent Price’s last film which was introduced by Victoria Price, who had a small role in the movie. John Landis sent a taped introduction as well. Michael Jackson’s Thriller preceded the film with a team of dancers performing in front of the screen.
Victoria Price introducing EDWARD SCISSORHANDS and the dancers.
Local Actor John Contini, a Kevin Klein Award winner for his one-man John Barrymore play, recreated parts of Vincent Price in his An Evening With Edgar Allen Poe, masterfully channeling Price by reciting Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart before Victoria Price’s presentation at the Missouri History Museum.
Robert Taylor giving a gallery talk at The Sheldon, actor John Contini reciting Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart, and The Fly running amok at The Missouri History Museum
The Magic Smoking Monkey Theater Group, an off-shoot of St. Louis Shakespeare, cleverly turned THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES into a hilarious Monty Pythonesque stage play that ran 8 performances to large crowds at the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission.
THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES Stage play
SUPER-8 VINCENT PRICE MOVIE MADNESS was a 100 minute show comprised of 5 Vincent Price movies on Super-8 Sound Film condensed to 9 minutes each (WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE RAVEN, PIT AND THE PENDULUM, MASTER OF THE WORLD, WAR-GODS OF THE DEEP), a 17-minute cut of THE MAD MAGICIAN in 3-D (we had plenty of 3D glasses for everyone), a 7-film Vincent Price trailer reel, and Tim Burton’s VINCENT. This was presented at The Way Out Club, a popular St. Louis venue, the night before Vincent Price’s 100th Birthday and at Midnight we screened a 16mm print of DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE GIRL BOMBS, considered perhaps Price’s worst film, but it was a heck of a lot of fun watching it in the middle of the night on Vincent Price’s 100th birthday.
I took the SUPER-8 VINCENT PRICE MOVIE MADNESS show on the road to promote Vincentennial, showing it at the Horrorhound Convention in Indy, the Contamination Convention here in St. Louis and at a few other local venues.
At SUPER-8 VINCENT PRICE MOVIE MADNESS with Alan Sokol from Germany and Peter Fuller, editor of The Sounds of Vincent Price blog, who traveled from England for the event.
The Vincentennial garnered tons of high-profile publicity in the St. Louis media. I personally did about a dozen radio interviews and about a half-dozen local TV shows. The local arts paper The Riverfront Times gave Vincentennial a huge cover story (the on-line version of their article can be found HERE) and the city’s major daily The St. Louis Post Dispatch did several articles inluding the cover of their arts calendar section.
Examples of the high-profile publicity in the St. Louis media that Vincentennial received
I teamed up with Steve DeBellis, a well know St. Louis historian and published a 40-page all-Vincent Price issue of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat to tie into the Vincentennial. This paper comprised all new articles including:
- a cover story on the Vincent Price/Michael Jackson Thriller rap by Steve DeBellis complete with an original illustration by artist Jeff Weigel
- an article about Vincent Price’s High School days by Cliff Saxton, archivist at MICDS (Price’s alma mater) with info not seen in any Price biographies
- a testimonial by his THE FLY co-star David Hedison
- an article on Vincent Price’s top ten best films by Jim Batts, Dana Jung, and Tom Stockman
- a map of Vincent Price St. Louis landmarks
- my interview with TOMB OF LIGEIA star Elizabeth Shepherd
- a look at Vincent Price’s fondness for the St. Louis Cardinals by Dick Pointer
- an article about Vincent Price’s family tree by Steve DeBellis
- an article by Irene Leland about her mother Dorothy who was engaged to Vincent Price in the 1930′s
- a reassessment of DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE GIRL BOMBS by Dana Jung
- an article about Vincent Price’s cooking career by Rick Squires
- an article about Vincent Price’s TV work by Rob Levy
- a 4-page comic-strip biography of Vincent Price by We Are Movie Geek’s own Jim Batts – and much more
Jim Batt’s comic-strip biography of Vincent Price
Vincentennial was a huge success. Over 3500 people attended the The Vincentennial Vincent Price Film Festival and people came from all over the country (and the world) to see the exhibits and join in the celebration. Everyone in St. Louis loves Vincent Price and we’re all proud that this is his home town. Everyone seemed to remember seeing him at the Muny or speaking somewhere here. It was great talking to people about the event because everyone was so positive and wanted to talk or refer me to someone else who wanted to get involved. No one expressed disinterest. Vincent Price is the most iconic movie star to hail from St. Louis. He was also a gourmet chef, author, stage actor, speaker, world-class art collector, raconteur, and all-around Renaissance man. We had only one opportunity to celebrate his 100th birthday and it was important to the people of St. LouisÂ that it was done right. Vincent Price (unlike Tennessee Williams, another St. Louisan whose 100th B-Day was two months earlier) loved St. Louis and was proud of his roots here. He gave much to our city and Vincentennial was a way to honor the good will his memory generated.
Thanks to Raymond Castile, Danny Fulce, and Rick Squires for some of the photos used in this article.