Another Corman attempt to bring the works of Poe to the screen, this one is based on a short story about an old family in an even older house, and the friend who comes to visit them. This movie, however, becomes more of a study in obsession. When a man comes to believe in an idea completely, how far will he go to prove it a reality?
Vincent Price stars as Roderick Usher, a man who suffers from what we now know as hyperesthesia, which means that his senses (taste, touch, scent, hearing) are all so sensitive that any loud noise, too much light, rough clothing, or certain seasonings in food can cause him extreme discomfort. However, it is Roderick's belief that his family is cursed that is the crux of the story. The Usher family has been beset by many members who were involved in less than savory professions (slave traders, assassins, embezzelers, smugglers), and this unique family heritage has convinced Roderick that any offspring that he or his sister, Madeline, may have will only continue an evil blight on the world at large. Because of this, he has made himself a prisoner in his family's old house, and intends that his sister do the same. The conflict comes when the young man that Madeline fell in love with on a recent trip to Boston shows up to marry her.
The acting in this is superb, with Mark Damon as the young fiance, Philip, Myrna Fahey as Madeline, and Harry Ellerbe as the loyal butler Bristol. The sets are appropriately dark and moody, just the right atmosphere for the drama that plays out between the characters. What will a man do to prove that his obsession is the truth? Sometimes the answer is absolutely horrible.