SINISTER IMAGE REMEMBERED
BY DAVID DEL VALLE
In 1987 I sat down with Vincent Price and recorded an interview focusing almost entirely on his horror films, this interview (which was the pilot
for Sinister Image as a series} has certainly stood the test of time and now is considered by genre fans to be a classic of it's kind. Price did
one more filmed interview after mine with Tim Burton Sadly the result is marred by Vincent's then declining health and for the record Tim asked
him many of the same questions that I had done as well. The interview filmed at Price's art gallery in East LA has never been released and having
seen a rough cut I can understand why, although regardless it would be wonderful to see it since it would be his last.
The Sinister Image interview went through a number of close calls of never seeing the light of day as well, mainly because of the cost of film
clips of which my show had many the cost at the time was over $60.000. When I finally met with film historian David Kalat whose company ALL DAY
Entertainment finally came forth and put it out, we had become resolved to do without the clips, perhaps now with the copyright laws altered a
bit I might re-release it as it was originally meant to be seen with not only the clips but the fun of watching Vincent and I looking at them on a
monitor in the studio. This did become an Easter egg on the now long out of print disc.
This year 2013 has been quite a remarkable one in the genesis of Sinister Image with the Vincent Price interview featured on three forthcoming
DVD releases two of which are on blu ray. First THE MONSTER CLUB from Scorpion and then much more to the point THE VINCENT PRICE COLLECTION from
Shout Factory and last but far from the least THE SINISTER IMAGE COLLECTION a boxed set of all my video interviews done under that name from Cine
du Mond in the UK. I was approached to do THE MONSTER CLUB first and never thought there would be another opportunity so quickly however I felt
that this interview needed to be seen by as many Vincent Price fans as possible because it was such a wonderful document of his charm and wit as
a man as well as just how talented he was as an actor. It is clear watching him discuss his career with me what a remarkable man he was and just
how much he gave back with so many wonderful performances. Vincent Price is even more of an icon then we was when he passed away in 1993 such is
Here now is the genesis of Sinister IMAGE and just how it all began from day one.
Vincent Price has always been a part of my life.
He was a part of my first movie going experience. I remember being taken to see HOUSE OF WAX in 1953 in glorious 3-D. At the age of four, the 3-D
process was beyond mind-boggling although as one entered the theater, the screen was blurred in reds and blues. It wasn't until you put on those
paper glasses with one frame in blue cellophane and the other in red that the image came into clarity. The rubber ball was bounced into the
audience over and over again making one jump repeatedly.
Vincent's character was immaculate with a goatee and a perfect Devilish widow's peak. I knew immediately that is what I wanted to look like when
I grew up. From that point on I never missed a Vincent Price film. With the advent of television I was able,like the rest of the Baby Boomers, to
make the landscape of Shock Theater the playground of my imagination.
It is not often that one's dreams come true but in my case, they did. He came into my life my junior year in high school in Sacramento
California. It was November of 1968 and Vincent Price had come to town to perform a series of readings entitled "Dear Theo" Based on the letters
exchanged between Vincent Van Gogh and his brother. I attended every performance during that week. And on the last night I gathered up enough
courage to go backstage.
As I entered his dressing-room, his back was to me and he was just as tall as he had been in HOUSE OF WAX all those years ago. He turned and
extended a very warm handshake, clasping both his hands on mine. I felt like I had always known him and in a way I had.
Vincent Price had a gift for making anyone that came into his orbit the focus of all his attention and warmth. We immediately established a
rapport which I am happy to say lasted the rest of his life. It's funny how one remembers details of events long ago but I recall our
conversation that evening and his willingness to put me on his level. I told him that I wanted to be an actor as well as a writer and how much
the Arts meant to me. He seemed to understand everything I was telling him and the longer I stayed in his company, the more convinced I was meant
to follow my bliss.
I talked of nothing else for weeks after he left and just when I began to think I had imagined the whole thing. I received a package in the mail
with an 8x10 portrait of Vincent as Roderick Usher with the dedication "For David--This is one of my favorite portraits and I want you to have
it". That photograph is still on my wall today.
I would hear from Vincent off and on for the rest of the sixties to the end of his life. He never failed to answer correspondence and send
postcards from his various lecture tours and film sets. It never ceased to amaze me how this man who was constantly on the move could maintain any
contact with someone who was basically his fan. I have since learned that if Vincent liked someone and believed in their talent, it was for life.
I came to live in Beverly Hills at the end of 1976 and by 1977 I was a theatrical agent with an office in Century City. By this time Vincent was
touring in "DIVERSIONS AND DELIGHTS" his one man show on Oscar Wilde. I flew up to San Francisco to see him at the Geary Theater. After the show
we talked in his dressing room now as two show business professionals. At the time the idea of an interview show was in its embryonic stage. I
envisioned a series of in-depth interviews with personalities from the Horror genre or as Vincent and Boris Karloff liked to call them, fantasy
films. He generously agreed to do whatever he could when the time was right.
The time wouldn't be right for almost a decade during which I switched gears and started writing for John Russell Taylor at FILMS AND FILMING
magazine based in London. By 1986 I had become the LA correspondent for the magazine and the idea for a TV series seemed right.
Cable television was becoming very popular at the time and Ann Volokh, the publisher of MOVIELINE encouraged me to consider doing an interview
show on public access. Already popular were THE MR, PETE SHOW, THE HOLLYWOOD KIDS and the inspiration for Martin Short;s satire on talk show
hosts SKIP E. LOWE. When I saw legends like Orson Welles and Shelley Winters doing public access, I was sold.
Vincent had always referred to his image as "Sinister"and cited George Sanders as an example of a "sinister image" for a character actor. The
title struck a cord with me and the SINISTER IMAGE became a reality. Using the Santa Monica studios for Century Cable I shot the first of ten
hour long interview shows. My first guest was David Blyth, a talented young director from New Zealand. Then veteran character actor James Karen
followed and my format became established. The guests became more psychotronic with additions of Russ Meyer, Tab Hunter,Cameron Mitchell. Yvette
Vickersw. William Claxton and his iconic wife Peggy Moffat, Curtis Harrington, Martine Beswicke and Werner Herzog.
By now I was ready for the for whom the show was created.
The catalyst would come in the form of a movie I was working on with a young filmmaker from Georgia. When I first agreed to be Unit publicist on
what would be known as THE OFFSPRING,the film was without a distributor and a real star to help sell it. The Director Jeff Burr asked me to help
keep Vincent on the project after they persuaded him to sign on the dotted line. At first the script was an issue. But after much rewriting and
hand-wringing, Vincent was pleased and my dear friend Martine Beswicke and I were given cameos. During this shoot I mentioned to Vincent that I
was ready to do a pilot for my Sinister Image concept.
The last night Vincent worked on THE OFFSPRING he had just finished shooting and was sitting in his trailer putting away personal effects and
wrapping his now bloodstained shirt in a plastic bag his wife Coral Browne provided so it wouldn't soil his other clothes. I came in to say
good-bye and thanked him once again for all the kindnesses he had shown. As I was leaving he looked up from his packing and said "well when do
you need me?" I was momentarily surprised "for what?" I said. "For your Sinister Image show dear boy"
As I should have remembered by now with Vincent;s generosity. It was for life.