James Cole Clay has been working as a film critic for the better part of a decade covering new releases, blu ray reviews and the occasional drive-in cult classic. His writing is dedicated to discovering social politics through diverse voices, primarily focusing on Women In Film and LGBTQ cinema.
Cole Clay // Film Critic
Victoria Price is not only a talented artist in her own right, but she is the daughter of the iconic actor Vincent Price. He was known for his beautifully sinister voice and the number of horror films that made him a legend. However, only one-third of Price’s filmography was dedicated to shrieks and scares.
Victoria spoke at the Alamo Drafthouse/DFW last week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her parents’ book of recipes: A TREASURY OF GREAT RECIPES. The recipes were carefully curated that is accompanied with stunning photography. The celebration will be accompanied by the delectably strange film of her father’s THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES with a very special menu.
Fresh Fiction chatted with Price about her event, the importance of art in today’s culture, and her friendship with funnyman Bill Hadar.
I appreciate you giving me a few minutes of your time. It was funny, a couple weeks ago … I do a film podcast with some friends of mine, and we watched THE FLY for the first time.
Victoria Price: “Oh wow.”
Then we got the email from Janie and it holds up so well and just like a myriad of your father’s other films, and it just cut me to the core. It was just a serendipitous occasion that I actually got the chance to talk to you about this, so I wanted to share that with you. It’s really cool that these older films are just so accessible these days on Netflix.
“I know, it is awesome and it’s great that they’ve remained so viable.”
Absolutely. Let me just go ahead and start off light and ask you, in the recipes in The Treasury of Great Recipes. I was just curious to why fifty years later? What made you take on this project this time?
“Actually, I was approached by Dover Press, who wanted to do it, and it was something that I had been thinking about and talking with a variety of people about doing. Then they actually came to me and said “This is something we want to do,” and since it had been on my mind, because it’s the eighth most popular out of print book of any kind, and not just cookbooks, but of any kind, so why has it remained so popular?
It’s remained so popular because I think it has this very emblematic view of the world. It’s very much about going out into the world, not bringing your own preconceptions with you of what you think the world is going to be, but to go out into the world with an open heart and an open mind, and let the world change you, so that’s what they did. They felt very fortunate to have the lives that they had, and they went out and they explored everywhere. Through that exploration, they would bring back recipes and design products, and then they would recreate the experiences for their friends, and that was a very celebratory thing. I realize that the whole project, the whole book, distilled down to this idea that they explored the world. They savored what they explored, and they went out and celebrated it.”
That’s fascinating. See, I am born and raised in Texas, so I would definitely not consider myself a cosmopolitan person by any stretch, and my appetite has definitely reflected that quite a bit. I was reading a bit and I noticed, I believe … Correct if I’m wrong on the quote, but I read that you said that your father and mother had an “Omnivorous appetite for life?”
“That’s exactly right.”
I think that’s beautiful and really fantastic, because I personally am a picky eater and I don’t know why that is, but did he introduce you to the collective mix of cultures, because I know that you are interested in African art. How has that affected you throughout your life and in your adult years?
“Art was definitely my dad’s passion. Odd you should mention African art, because that’s what I studied. I studied art history in college, but my specialty was African art and how it influenced the European art at the beginning of the last century. For me, my dad’s open-minded approach to everything … He began collecting ethnic graphic art, African art, Latin American art, Asian art; many things before that was as popular as it is now. He just definitely looked at the world and all different cultures and thought how fascinating everybody was, how incredible it was to be able to learn about the world through its art, through its cooking, through its arts in general, the visual arts, the culinary arts, through music; all of the ways you can learn about the world and he was excited by that, that just turned him on.”
That’s fascinating too, I have a Liberal Arts degree as well; I studied film history, and it’s different than that, but I feel like it gets discounted and it’s really awesome to have you continuing this legacy and having your father’s legacy, really just continuing that conversation and that cultural discourse. It’s really hard to keep people interested to think that this really is a viable resource for our country to grow and to promote a lot of diversity.
I’m really curious, so I know when it comes to my favorite foods, I get sick of them a little bit, just like I said, because I was picky. Now do you do remixes on some of your favorite recipes from the book?
“Oh my God, I could not be a pickier eater. I am so super picky, and so I go to a lot of these cookbook dinners, and I can’t particularly eat them, so yes, in terms of how I approach food, is definitely from a picky point of view, and that wasn’t necessarily my dad’s favorite thing about me, so that’s, of course, pretty funny.”
Yeah, I really wish I could set that aside, but it’s like I’ll go to a Tex-Mex restaurant and I have to put the beans to the side, and everybody’s like, “This is like a staple, you’re missing out.” Then people always say, “You don’t know it until you try it,” and I’m like, “No, I know that I don’t like sweet pea soup.”
“Exactly. I’m like, ‘Just trust me,’ and I hate having to refuse things, so it makes me feel a little better that somebody who actually is involved with a culinary book feels at least remotely the same way as I do.”
I haven’t seen THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES. I remember seeing just small images as a child in a local video store. Why did you pair DR. PHIBES with this event that you’re promoting at the Drafthouse in Dallas? Was that something that you picked?
“We threw out some ideas of what would work, and one of them was DR. PHIBES. One of them was THEATER OF BLOOD, and I think Alamo Drafthouse decided it would be a good combo plate.”
They definitely know some deep cuts in film, and I trust their opinion. I’m going to this film festival they have in Austin called Fantastic Fest, it celebrates that.
“Yeah, it’s going to be a part of that festival, I think.”
Do you like horror movies? Do you respond to them well, or do you just stay back and “Uhh, no thank you?”
“I’m not the horror movie fan. I’m just somebody who can’t really tolerate watching violence. I don’t really like to have it be a part of what I bring into my life visually, but I recognize why horror fans love horror so much, and I’m definitely a fan of horror fans, for sure.”
It doesn’t get brought up so much in the conversation, but your father did a lot of noir films in the ’40’s and ’50’s, is that correct?
“Oh yeah. Less than a third of the movies he made were horror films, so there’s lot of thing I can watch my dad do without watching him do horror.”
I’m sure you’ve heard this over the course of your life countless times, is the cadence of his voice and that iconic voice, and how it’s just like a gift. I’m a millennial, and my first encounter with your father was I saw THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE when I was a kid. Your father’s portrayal of that voice is … I don’t know how much it gets talked about, but I think it is one of the best vocal performances I’ve ever heard, because I remember being 3 to 5 years old and knowing that voice and really responding to it, and not only a way that was menacing, but in a way that was just entrancing. Do many people bring up that film to you often?
“Yeah, I think a lot of people love THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE. One of the things I definitely know is that my dad was very heavy respected in the voice-over world, and iconic; you know, people look for a Vincent Price voice now.”
Yeah, that is definitely true. In terms of films that are out these days, what really gets you to the theater or gets you to order something on VOD? What filmmakers or films in the past … Let’s just say a few years have you responded to?
“Oh, that’s an interesting question. Oh golly, I think I’m a fan of British films mostly. I certainly love a lot of the British films. I don’t get a chance to go to movies very often, so I usually unfortunately don’t get to see them on the big screen, but I did go to a movie … I’m working here in Austin, and I wanted to get out of the heat, so I went to an Alamo Drafthouse, because I wanted to see what that was like, too; I’d never been to one. I went to see TRAINWRECK, because I know Bill Hader. Obviously, I met him because he does the wonderful character of my dad on Saturday Night Live. It was just such an honor and pleasure to meet him, and I wanted to support his film and see him.”
I find that my sense of humor is definitely more toward the British than the American. I would say I definitely have more of an understated, drier sense of humor than the crass, over-the-top sense of humor, so if you compare the two characters in TRAINWRECK, Bill is a much quieter … His humor is much quieter in TRAINWRECK, which is a wise choice for sure, given how over-the-top she is, and she’s hilarious. That was fun, and I was like oh my God, it’s so funny. It’s laugh out loud funny, and it was less laugh out loud funny to me than I thought it might be.”
In terms of the dry stuff, he’s doing this show called DOCUMENTARY NOW for a network called IFC. They do alternative comedy, and he’s actually parodying documentaries. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, but him and Fred Armisen did this thirty minute parody of GREY GARDENS.
“Oh, that’s hilarious.”
I’m dying to see it, because I remember seeing that in college, and it just really stuck with me. My last question for you is how were the foods curated? Was anything added to the new book, to the re-release of the book?
“No. We had talked about that as a possibility, but we really decided that the better way was to give people access to a book. Why fix what’s broken? Give people access to a book that they’ve really wanted to have access to, so that’s what we did.”
Fantastic. I’m excited to get my hands on it because what I’ve seen from it was just simply beautiful photography, and I just want to compliment you on really trying to, and successfully getting these different art projects off the ground, so thank you very much.
“Oh, thank you, thank so much. That’s something that my dad and I definitely shared, is our love of the visual arts and of the arts in general, so thank you for recognizing that, because I’ve been really wanting to carry on that part of his legacy.”
Victoria, I got fifteen minutes out of you, and it was fantastic. I really thank you a lot for your time, and good luck with the book and all your future endeavors.
“Oh, thank you so much. It was a pleasure talking to you, thank you.”
You can find more of Victoria Price’s work at the links below
THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES trailer is located below.