After Britain's Hammer Studios started producing full-color horror films set in historic Europe, America's Roger Corman decided to begin crafting his own set of American horror films, based on stories by the famed American horror writer Egdar Allen Poe.
He got legendary "Twilight Zone" scribe Richard Matheson to write the screenplay to this, the first film in what would be a long series of Poe pics directed by Corman and starring Vincent Price. It's also arguably the best.
The one low point is Damon's horrible performance as a fiancÚ who shows up at the House of Usher in an attempt to take away Madeline Usher, sister of Roderick Usher (Price). Roderick seems to believe that there is something terribly wrong with his family's blood line and shows Damon some hilarious, Disney-like horror portraits of his relatives to prove it. Turns out the relatives were all murderers, madmen etc. He doesn't want Damon to marry his sister and carry on the bloodline.
Like many of the Poe-Corman films, this one opens with a shot of an incredibly atmospheric, decaying estate-the House of Usher-and Corman manages to make it look as eerie as any haunted house has ever been. Matheson's screenplay is also jam-packed with suspense. It would have been a perfect film if not for Damon's terrible acting. But then, if Corman hadn't hired him, he probably couldn't have afforded Price, who (as usual) is amazing.
Followed by the similar Corman-Price-Poe film "Pit and the Pendulum".