The Haunted Palace (1963)
Based loosely on 'The Case of Charles Dexter Ward'.
In 1765, the villagers in the New England town of Arkham are suspicious of the strange goings-on up in the manor overlooking the village. They suspect its inhabitant, Joseph Curwen, of being a warlock. After one of the girls in the village disappears, the townsmen storm the castle and confront its mysterious owner. Convinced the girl was bewitched, they tie Joseph to a tree outside his manor and burn him alive. Before dying, however, Joseph puts a curse on the men and the town, saying he will rise from the grave to torment their descendants.
In 1875, Charles Dexter Ward and his wife Anne arrive in Arkham. Charles inherited the manor of his distant ancestor, Curwen. The locals are wary and inhospitable, as they believe they have developed strange deformities since Curwen's burning as part of the curse.
A deformed son, kept locked in a room, is referred as "it", and resident Ezra Weeden mentions that "it knows he has arrived". The couple encounters many deformed villagers missing eyes, limping, and with other facial deformities in the village. The doctor reveals that they were gathered by Weeden in an attempt to scare the couple away. He also mentions that Curwen came to the village 150 years ago, looking unnaturally young.
A creature exists in the pit under the palace, in the past (since at least 1765) and in the present. The creature has green skin, two arms, and two more limbs in his upper body, huge black eyes with no pupils and growls incoherently. Mortals are sacrificed to this being. In 1765, Curwen and his associates impregnated young girls with its spawn, partially explaining the townspeople's inherited deformities.
At the manor, they meet the caretaker, Simon Orne. That night, Charles is overtaken by the spirit of his dead warlock ancestor as he gazes into Curwen's portrait over the mantle. Curwen recognizes the caretaker—his old assistant—telling him that 110 years have passed. He first takes revenge upon the descendants of his murderers. Curwen has their names on a list; he tears off each name as they are slain. He burns two people alive. At the same time, he succeeds in resuscitating the long-buried corpse of his long-dead mistress using the infamous Necronomicon. At first, his hold on Charles is limited to the night, but as time goes on he grows stronger, eventually taking complete control. Charles's wife, noticing the changes in her husband, seeks solace in the advice of the town doctor. Eventually, the doctor realizes what the possessed Charles is trying to do, and foils him by burning the portrait of the dead warlock. Escaping the flames of the burning palace, Anne breathes a sigh of relief, believing the terror is finally over. But as the camera fades on Charles, the viewer realizes that Joseph Curwen still inhabits his mind.
- This is the very first film adaptation of HP Lovecraft's work.
- The Necronomicon, ,Elder Gods, Cthulhu, and Yog-Sothoth are all mentioned.
- The title comes from an Edgar Allan Poe poem so it would fit in with the AIP Rodger Corman Poe series of films.