Vincent Price long ago subverted his onscreen penchant for murder and mustache-twirling. Even in the 1970s, it would've been ridiculous to wonder if the horror icon were some kind of macabre-obsessed recluse; Price toured colleges to lecture about fine art and gleefully helmed cooking demonstrations on Johnny Carson.
And even though he acted long and widely enough to intersect with '40s Otto Preminger noirs (Laura) and '90s Tim Burton fairy tales (Edward Scissorhands), camp horror will always be a logical place to start with Price. This Friday and Saturday, the Hollywood Theatre screens House on Haunted Hill (1959) and House of Wax (1953) with Price's daughter Victoria in attendance for Q&A sessions and signings. We caught up with Victoria, 56, about her dad, how he still influences her work, and the inimitable qualities of his voice.
WW: As a biographer of your father, was there ever a point when you had to reckon with just how many people shaped his legacy?
Victoria Price: I've known it ever since I was a little kid because he was just so beloved. Wherever people saw him, their faces would light up. And I got that. I was a daddy's girl; my face lit up with joy just when he would come home.
In both movies screening at the Hollywood, Price has this presentational streak: "Welcome to my house," "welcome to my museum." He hosted a great deal of TV, too. Why do you think the hosting role suited him?
I read that some fires blazed out of control on the House of Wax set. Did your dad have war stories from all the bizarre props and effects he encountered through the decades?
He died, I think, the fourth-most of any actor in film, so things could get outrageous. Most difficult for him were the creepy animals: spiders, snakes, rats.
Price's voice was unique by modern standards. He pitched it up and down a lot in different roles, but what was closest to his normal speaking voice?
Yeah, most people can't claim a parent whose voice sounded totally different from anyone else's walking the earth today.
It's funny—I'll be walking along at a convention and hear the tone of his voice somewhere in the room, even if not the words. And I'll wonder, "What is going on?" And then I'll remember where I am.
SEE IT: House on Haunted Hill screens at the Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy Blvd., hollywoodtheatre.org, on Friday, March 1. 7 pm. House of Wax screens Saturday, March 2. 7 pm. $12 each.