Denis Meikle

Born: 1947 | Birthplace: Glasgow | Educated: Alleyn's School | Spouse: Jane | Children: Sarah, James | Resident: East Sussex

Published works: A HISTORY OF HORRORS-The Rise and Fall of the House of Hammer (1996), JACK THE RIPPER-The Murders and the Movies (2001), VINCENT PRICE-The Art of Fear (2002), JOHNNY DEPP-A Kind of Illusion (2004), THE RING COMPANION (2006), ROMAN POLANSKI-Odd Man Out (2007), MR MURDER-The Life and Times of Tod Slaughter (2019) |

Revised editions: A HISTORY OF HORRORS-large format (2011), MERCHANT OF MENACE-The Life and Films of Vincent Price (2015), ROMAN POLANSKI-The Horror Films (2016), HAMMER-The Haunted House of Horror (2018) |

Contributor to: The Dark Side magazine, Little Shoppe of Horrors magazine


Reynolds & Hearn

This was the third book for R&H - not suggested by me but by Marcus Hearn on the premise that as R&H had already published books about Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, it made sense to produce one about Price - the third of the 1950s/60s' 'Titans of Terror'. I was reluctant at first. A principle I had advanced in relation to A History of Horrors was that any book on Hammer should be written by a Brit, who would understand better the culture behind, and domestic impact of, what was a wholly British company; that principle was now in danger of being entirely upended if I were to write a biography of Missouri-born, all-American actor Vincent Price. But Marcus informed me that if I was unwilling to do it, then another writer was waiting in the wings to take my place. Rather me than he, I eventually decided, on the basis that I had at least met and interviewed Price twice - once during the shooting of The Abominable Dr Phibes at Elstree Studios in 1970, and again on the Twickenham Studios' set of The Revenge of Dr Death (released as Madhouse) in 1971. I had also lunched with Douglas Hickox, the director the 1972 Price-starrer Theatre of Blood, immediately after he had completed the film.
      For the first of my two meetings with Price, he was grace personified - despite being in the process of a divorce from his first wife; the second, however, was quite a different story: he had arrived back in Britain to shoot Dr Death, only to be confronted by a scurrilous article in the Sunday Mirror by its show business correspondent Jack Dempsey, which alleged  that Price was broke; the result of that piece was an instruction to AIP's publicity agent Dennison Thornton that he would give no more press interviews during the rest of his stay. As my meeting with Price had been pre-arranged and I was already en route to Tickenham before I could be told of the problem, this led to a more awkward exchange. Dennison led me on to the set and sat me next to Price, who was sharing a bottle of wine with co-star Adrienne Corri while preparations were made to shoot a sequnce in which her character dotes lovingly over a tank full of spiders. Price was in a foul mood and conversation was stilted and edgy, punctuated by constant diversions during which he indulged in banter with Corri. He professed to have no recollection of our previous encounter, which helped matters even less, but I persevered for an hour that felt like a day until an opportunity arose to slip quietly away. Compensation was offered in the form of an introduction to Robert Quarry, who also featured, and who (later) proved to be a much more amenable subject.
      The book did well enough in softcover for R&H to run counter to conventional publishing practice and reprint it in hardback. I had never liked the cover of the original version as it had utilised a shot of Price from one his least noteworthy films - 1965's City Under the Sea; the reprint did the same, but in a more evocative - and preferable - design.