Burning Down the House


I have contributed a video essay to Arrow’s dazzling new Blu-ray of THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER — sharing space with Jonathan Rigby, Joe Dante and Tim Lucas, which is pretty fine company to be in. If you enjoyed PIECES OF PETULIA then you’ll… perhaps also enjoy FRAGMENTS OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. What next? CHUNKS OF CHARIOTS OF FIRE? GOBBETS OF GODZILLA? Only time will tell.

As with the PETULIA essay, editor Timo Langer deserves mucho credit for his editing skills, and thanks are also due to Francesco Simeoni at Arrow for commissioning the thing and offering helpful feedback throughout.

The essay is ten minutes long — my only regret was that I’m a little critical of Richard Matheson’s screenplay, not expecting him to die just before the thing came out. And anyway, one never knows if screenplays are flawed due to the writer or due to rewriting by other hands or what. I seem to recall an interview where Matheson said he wasn’t too pleased with the end product and considered putting his pseudonym on it, Logan Swanson, “who has really written some awful junk.”

In fact, the script is mainly quite nifty and allows Vincent Price plenty of opportunity for eyebrow arching.

You can buy the little beauty here:


7 Responses to “Burning Down the House”

  1. This was fun to do.

  2. Referring to your comments on the true authorship of scripts, whenever I get get a hack editing job I wish I could give the editor co-credit.

  3. It’s quite unfair that US screenwriters stand to lose money if they take their names off films — blackmailing them to sacrifice their good reputations.

  4. Just watched it yesterday – I enjoyed all the extras and was glad that you got to do the essay as I’m a big believer in it as an approach – I just thought your essay was a bit too short and didn’t have the chance to develop what you were saying about the script, the film and the story beyond a few very interesting nuggets – can we please have some more next time?

  5. Yes, the next one will be longer. I had written a longer piece, then threw it away and made a true “video essay” entirely composed of imagery from the film with no VO at all. I quite like that version, but Arrow wanted something fuller, so what we ended up with was halfway between the original draft and the all-visual one. I’m still figuring out what I want my video essays to be like, but it seems clear that the market requires more length…

  6. Really looking forward to the next one.

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