The Red Death
While the terrible plague of the Red Death is spreading among the population, Prince Prospero celebrates an opulent masked ball at his castle. He has the farmer's daughter Francesca kidnapped in order to corrupt her with his charming arrogant manner. Her husband Gino does everything to free her from Prospero's hands. Francesca discovers that Prospero is a devil worshipper and has completely devoted himself to evil. When a man masked in a red cape appears at the ball at a late hour, Prospero faces his greatest adversary.
In Edgar Allan Poe's tale The Mask of the Red Death, Prince Prospero and his entourage celebrate a pompous masked ball in an abbey, while outside the walls his subjects are killed by a plague called "The Red Death. Every hour, a bell tolls, which horrifies all those present by its sound, but after that the ball continues. At the twelfth stroke, a figure in the mask of the Red Death appears, frightening all participants of the ball. Since no one is able to catch the stranger, Prince Prospero takes up the chase through the color-matched rooms. Prospero dies and the guests realize that the Red Death is now among them.
The timelessness of Poe's story is all too evident in the figure of the selfish Prospero, who prefers to celebrate an opulent feast instead of caring for his underlings by taking measures to fight the disease. The self-proclaimed lateral thinkers who, during the Corona pandemic, refuse to accept simple hygienic measures because of their ignorance of scientific knowledge and thus contribute to the spread of infection are just as much driven by blatant selfishness as Prospero.
The Mask of the Red Death is the sixth Poe film adaptation by Roger Corman, who expanded the story a bit. Thus Prospero became a devil worshipper who tries to corrupt the pretty Francesca. In various subplots, the actor Hop Toad takes revenge for the mistreatment of his girlfriend, asks Prospero for forgiveness, gives himself up to evil and tries to free Gino's wife Francesca. Since the clever businessman Corman reused sets and costumes from his earlier film adaptation, The Mask of the Red Death looks very opulent. The colorfully designed rooms are impressive and Vincent Price plays the thoroughly evil Prospero magnificently.
First time published uncut by Shout! Factory
For the first time ever, the US Blu-ray by Shout! Factory contains the uncut version of the film. This is remarkable, because all previous releases were more or less shortened. In addition to the well-known US theatrical version, the Blu-ray also features the uncut original version, which contains various scenes that had to be censored for the US theatrical version. Francesca is allowed to say the complete sentence "Mercy in the name of God" and also included are the few frames in which she falls naked into the bath water. For the first time ever, the scene where Hop Toad goes to Esmeralda to comfort her is included. It becomes clear that the two are lovers and Hop Toad wants to avenge the injustice done to Esmeralda. Francesca and Prospero can be seen walking around the yard earlier and the scene with the carriage is also included. The jump-cut at the end of the film when Prospero talks to the man in red is also not in the original version. On top of that, the original version has been restored and shows more picture information on the left and right.
Based on the information from the IMDB and other databases, the following information is available for other releases of the film.
MGM released the US theatrical version on DVD worldwide. The Blu-ray by Shout Factory, which is part of The Vincent Price Collection, also contains the theatrical version. A longer version has been released on the US Laserdisc, probably missing only the Hop Toad scene and scene in the courtyard. The German Blu-ray by Koch Media also lacks both scenes and the bathing scenes are only included in the bonus material.
To emphasize it once again: Shout! Factory has now released the uncut version for the first time. Whoever is interested in the film, can grab it without hesitation.
US theatrical version:
US theatrical version: 88:48 min.
The US theatrical version was compared to the original, uncut version.
The US version has the old MGM logo.
The uncut version shows the new MGM logo instead.
US: 9.50 sec.
Uncut: 15.25 sec.
Francesca can be seen a little bit longer. One of the guards swings out to strike her.
The reason for the censorship is that the word "God" was removed at the end of her sentence. It reads completely:
Francesca: "[Mercy in the name of] God."
Uncut: 1.04 sec.
The brief moment is missing when Francesca is shown naked as she falls into the bath water.
Uncut: 0.33 sec.
A scene between Hop Toad and Esmeralda is missing in the US version. Hop Toad comes to the bed to comfort the crying Esmeralda. The following dialogue is spoken:
Hop Toad: "It's all right. I'm sorry. Forgive me. I know my touch..."
Esmeralda: "Is gentle and kind. In all this world I have come to, only you have ever touched me with..."
Hop Toad: "Yes? Tell me."
Esmeralda: "Touched me with affection and love. How cruel they are to creatures small and weak as we."
Hop Toad: "I feel as tall as any man. No one will ever strike you again. I promise. Would you be afraid to go with me, away from here?"
Uncut: 54,87 sec.
The scene in which Francesca and Prospero walk across the courtyard begins earlier. Francesca tells him about a nightmare she had last night.
Prospero: "You look pale and drawn."
Francesca: "I slept badly. I dreamt, or thoght I did."
Francesca: "A room, a black room with candles burning. It was full of death and destruction and evil."
Prospero: "Often the appearance of evil is simply a lack of understanding.
Uncut: 31,91 sec.
The carriage of Scarlatti can be seen earlier, after Prospero asks who is approaching the castle. Scarlatti says the following:
Scarlatti: "Scarlatti and his wife."
Uncut: 2.00 sec.
Hop Toad can be seen earlier.
Uncut: 0.08 sec.
Film tear during the shot in which Francesca receives the key for the cells from Juliana.
Uncut: 0.20 sec.
Film tear: The laughing spectators can be seen earlier.
Uncut: 0,08 sec.
Jump cut as Prospero talks to the man in the red disguise. The man says "Each man creates his own God for himself. The dialogue has been moved forward in the US version, so it is not lost.
Uncut: 2.37 sec.
In the end, the US has the old and the uncut version the new MGM logo.
US: 9.33 sec.
Uncut: 4.62 sec.