Diary of a Madman (1963)

Movie Title: Diary of a Madman

Year Released: 1963

Rated: Approved

Runtime: 1h 36min

Genre: Horror

Director: Reginald Le Borg

Writer: Robert E. Kent (Based on stories by Guy de Maupassant)

Starring: Vincent Price, Nancy Kovack, Chris Warfield, Elaine Devry, Ian Wolfe, Stephen Roberts, Lewis Martin, Mary Adams, Edward Colmans, Nelson Olmsted, Harvey Stephens, Dick Wilson,

Review: When a possessed prisoner dies, an evil spirit leaves his body and finds a new home within French magistrate Simon Cordier (Vincent Price). After some odd occurrences he believes that it's just from being overworked and over-stressed. He finds that sculpting is the perfect way to soothe his troubled mind. But when model Odette (Nancy Kovack) catches his eye, and his heart, the spirit comes forth to possess him and wreck havoc, murder, and mayhem to those around this innocent man. You can learn all about these evil deeds within the... Diary of a Madman.

I'm a huge fan of the spooky spectacles starring Vincent Price, but Diary of a Madman is really not up to snuff. This horror movie, other than the eerie green light that shines on Price's face when the evil spirit takes over, is flat rather flatly shot, has a sluggish pace, and doesn't really know what it wants to be from scene to scene. Price, however, is wonderful in the lead as a melancholy magistrate who tries to put his troubled past behind him, but has his present and future commandeered by a supernatural evil bent on destroying its host. No one plays a tortured soul better than Vincent Price. It's just in this movie, the story, plot, and characters, are thrown into an uninteresting mess.

The look off the movie is bland to say the least. It don't try to be moody, creepy, or Gothic, as you might think a story like this should very well be. Other than Price, and Nancy Kovack's Odette, almost all of the characters are introduced and then forgotten about until a plot point is made or needs to be introduced. There are characters that are in the first five minutes of the movie that don't show up until the last 15-20 minutes. It's as if the scriptwriter simply forgot about them and suddenly remembered that they are the one's that set this whole story in motion.

And lastly, I was so uninterested in the story that I forgot that Price's character was possessed; and the movie kind of forgets about it, too! He becomes inhabited by "The Horla", as it refers to itself, 20 minutes or so in and then it doesn't come up or get mentioned again for another 40-45 minutes. When it does reappear I was saying to myself, "Oh, right! That's what was going on." That's not good for a horror movie if the audience forgets that it's a horror movie.

I can't recommend Diary of a Madman the movie, but I can recommend Diary of a Madman the album by Ozzy Osbourne. Skip this one, gang! Watch The Tomb of Ligeia, The Fly, or The Last Man on Earth instead for your Vincent Price fix!

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: Final theatrical film of Lewis Martin.


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