“I will always be your wife, your only wife.”
Verden Fell (Vincent Price) was married to Ligeia (Elizabeth Shepherd). When she died Verden fell into a state of deep depression. Ligeia was an atheist. Verden has her buried on the grounds of an old abbey they owned and lived in. He is tormented by the feeling that his late wife is still around. That she haunts the abbey. There is a black cat that stalks the halls. He is also troubled by a vision problem that requires him to wear dark glasses.
One day he meets Lady Rowena Trevanion (Elizabeth Shepherd). She is a beautiful headstrong woman. For some bizarre reason Rowena falls in love with the depressing man. Despite being previously betrothed to Christopher Gough (John Westbrook), they marry. After honeymooning abroad they return to the abbey to sign papers to sell it. Unfortunately Ligeia owned the abbey and there was no death certificate done for her. They must stay at the abbey until the situation is remedied. While there, they are haunted by the spirit of Ligeia who sometimes appears in the form of a cat.
“The Tomb of Ligeia” was released in 1965 and was directed by Roger Corman. It is the final Corman-Poe-AIP collaboration. The movie was also produced by Roger Corman; however, Roger gave Pat Green credit for producing in order to qualify for British subsidy. The screenplay was written by Robert Towne and is loosely based on Poe’s story.
Roger Corman was reluctant to use Price as the lead. Price was 53 and his character was supposed to be 25 to 30. He had his eye on Richard Chamberlain for the roll, however since AIP was investing in the film they insisted on Price. Robert Towne, the screenwriter also did not want Price in the roll. When Corman broke the news to Towne he told the screenwriter “Don’t worry, Bob, I’ve got Marlene Dietrich’s make-up man!”
Towne later said the film "was a little dull. I think it would have been better if it had been with a man who didn't look like a necrophiliac to begin with... I love Vincent. He's very sweet. But, going in, you suspect that Vincent could bang cats, chickens, girls, dogs, everything. You just feel that necrophilia might be one of his Basic Things. I'd felt the role called for an almost unnaturally handsome guy who the second wife could easily fall in love with. There should also be a sense of taboo about the close tie he had with his first wife - as though it was something incestuous, two halves of the same person."
Corman did his best to make Price look as young as he could. He put him in a black wig and used extra make-up on him. Nevertheless, he later remarked that Price's casting still "did change the orientation of the film quite a bit." It’s definitely creepy and more of a horror movie than any of the other Poe projects. It’s very dark and brooding. I don’t know why there were no problems with the censors on this one. The necrophilia aspect is quite evident. Yes, it’s a weird one. An excellent one, but a weird one.
I don’t know if it’s a Roger Corman thing or a Vincent Price thing or both, but there always seems to be a spectacular death scene involving fire. The fire here is stock footage from the fire Roger used in “The Fall of the House of Usher”.