Horror’s originators, as actors and directors, captured the core of conceptual fear in a simplistic, yet entirely unorthodox manner for the era. One of those pioneers was Vincent Price, the old school actor who, over the course of 51 years, became the considerable face of the genre through his roles in films like 1939’s Tower of London, 1954’s The Mad Magician, 1963’s The Haunted Palace and of course, his narrative role in Michael Jackson’s famed 1983 classic “Thriller,” among others.
With a legacy as extensive as his, association with such a character surely comes with assumptions and expectations, especially if that association is familial. Those presumptions, however, were refuted in some way or another over two days at the Hollywood Theatre’s sold-out “House of Price” mini-festival, where Price’s daughter Victoria Price was in attendance.
Each night, following screenings of The House on Haunted Hill and House of Wax respectively, Price opened up a bit about herself and her father during Q-and-A sessions. One thing she shared got both gasps and giggles from the crowd—she’s not really a fan of horror.
“I don’t like being scared, but my dad always used to say ‘horror is a place where you can go into the dark and face your fears and have a catharsis, and it helps you deal with the real horrors of the world,’” Price said. “I understand that now. Nothing we can see on screen is as truly horrible as what we’re seeing in the world.”
She’s right—for many, horror flicks are an escape from a fairly tragic reality. Her father got his start in scary movies during World War II, when people needed a distraction. In that regard, not much has changed considering our current climate, but the world horror movies transport us to is one where outlandish eccentricity ends up being easier to handle than the real world.
“The things you see in these movies are so over the top that you can’t even imagine them happening, so in a way, it’s facing something much more horrific but so unrealistic that it’s not horrific at all,” Price said. “It gives you this way of feeling all these things and thinking ‘I can face this.’”
It’s not just sociopolitical turmoil that leads people to things that go bump in the night. Price also feels horror movies are a place for outsiders to be welcomed into a community more suited for outcasts and misfits, of which she in a way considers herself. “Horror draws to it people who feel in one way or another like they don’t fit into this supposedly perfect world we live in,” she said. “That, I totally get, because I’ve felt like I don’t fit in, either. I didn’t feel like I was normal, I feel like we’re all just in the business of being normal.”
Price spoke about the joy she felt at House of Price, which was because of her father, and no matter how different they may be, she carries on his legacy proudly, and Vincent Price fans thank her for it.
“Here am I, this kid who loved her dad, and I get to hear these stories about people who loved him as much as I did,” Price said. “Of course differently, but just as much. I mean, how cool is that? He really was one of the brightest lights I’ve ever met and I thought all adults were going to be like him. Most adults really aren’t, but I feel like getting to carry that light forward is unbelievable, especially on a Saturday night 67 years after these movies came out to 350 people who just love him. That’s a gift.”