Simon Cordier, a judge, visits a condemned man in his cell who claims he committed the murders he was condemned for, being under the control of an evil spirit - Horla. Under spell he tries to kill the judge, fails and dies. Upon losing its victim, Horla has no choice but to select a new one, the judge.
Vincent Price ... Simon Cordier
Nancy Kovack ... Odette Mallotte DuClasse
Chris Warfield ... Paul DuClasse
Elaine Devry ... Jeanne D'Arville
Ian Wolfe ... Pierre
Stephen Roberts ... Captain Robert Rennedon
Lewis Martin ... Fr. Raymonde
Mary Adams ... Louise
Edward Colmans ... Andre D'Arville
Nelson Olmsted ... Dr. Borman
Harvey Stephens ... Louis Girot
Dick Wilson ... Martin
During the 1960s, Vincent Price became super famous as a horror actor--starring in countless low budget horror flicks. Many of them were very cheap and rather forgettable but he also did a few dandies that were quite watchable. In that latter category I would place this film. It's very enjoyable and despite the plot being awfully far-fetched, it is carried off well. Price plays a nice judge who visits a madman about to be executed. At this meeting, the evil spirit controlling the maniac jumps into Price's body and as a result, he goes from a saintly life of a life of evil and depravity. The acting and writing are good, but I must admit this sort of fare isn't going to be for everyone--deep intellectual stuff this isn't! But, if you like a good scare, give the film a viewing.
Vincent Price plays Simon Cordier a kind man who is a judge. He is possessed by a Horla (never shown--you only hear its voice) who thrives on evil. It sets Price out to commit evil deeds even though he fights against it. Then he meets sweet Odette (Nancy Kovack) and things go out of control....
Well-made, colorful (some BEAUTIFUL set design here), low-key horror film. The plot is interesting and the acting is good (especially Price and Kovack). There's next to no violence in this one (the one murder scene is badly faked)...it mostly concentrates on Price fighting against the Horla. There's a few very interesting discussions between Price and the demon about good, evil and morality. It all leads up to a great climax. If you're looking for a blood and guts movie this isn't it but it is an intelligent thoughtful horror film. Recommended.
Personally, this is one of my favorite Vincent Price movies. I think he played what could be construed as a victim of another more diabolical creature. A creature that turned a just, peaceful and artistic gentleman into a mindless killer. I always thought that Price had a great way of playing a suave and sophisticated gentlemen killer and Diary of a Madman is him to perfection. I do not think this is like Jekyll and Hyde for the reason that Dr. Jekyll was experimenting on himself, whereas Price's Judge character was content to do his job and live his life, with only a fascination for how a criminal mind works in relation to his delegating justice. He was a mad who had enough tragedy in his past and wanted to quietly go about his life. The story was excellent and some of the effects weren't too bad either. The cast and the acting were first rate too. Warning spoiler ahead. You didn't need much blood and gore to get the point across in dealing with the murder of Odette DuClass in the story. The point was made by the her head behind the clay.If you weren't a fan of Vincent Price as a sophisticated killer then this movie will help. In spite of being a possessed murderer, you could not help but pull for his character to destroy the Horla.Vincent Price pulled off the role of a good man becoming a possessed killer excellently. This movie shows that you don't need a special effects monsters to have a scary killer.This is one of Price's classic movie roles!