Vincent Price Sells You Things

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Vincent Price, as we all know, was an iconic actor with a velvety voice, a slightly camp demeanour and a sense of humour that shone through most of his work. No film with Price in the lead role can be truly boring. As many people know, Price was also an art expert and a renowned cook – at some point soon, we’ll be going through his famous Treasury of Great Recipes to share some of the more extravagant with you.

But while Price was clearly a sophisticate, he wasn’t above lending his name to all manner of advertising and promotions.

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The best-loved of these are the toys and games that bore his likeness in the 1970s. They are loved because, frankly, they looked great. Who, after all, didn’t want to own Vincent Price’s Shrunken Head kits? Price fronted this fantastic toy that turned apples into ‘realistic’ shrunken heads, thanks to the addition of wigs, hats and assorted toxic chemicals. You could then wear these around your neck or dangling from your belt, displaying your depravity for all to see. No wonder Price looks so happy on the box cover!

And then there is the Hangman board game, a glorious scam that somehow convinced people to shell out good money for a physical version of a game that has been played with nothing more than a pen and paper for generations. I’d love to say that the board game version is somehow more complex, but it really isn’t. However, with Vinnie fronting the box and the TV advertising, this managed to end up in many a Christmas stocking, to no doubt be played with once or twice before everyone realised how pointless it was.

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Rather more fiddly was Stay Alive, from MB Games, in which players pulled levers to make marbles drop through holes. Hyped as “the ultimate survival game”, this was essentially in the Jenga (or possibly Buckaroo) tradition, though it was made to seem more fiendish by Price’s commercials.

Price would also appear in all manner of advertising – some, like the ads for the tie-in book to his cookery show, made sense. Others, less so. You have to be impressed with a man who was equally home advertising children’s vitamins as he was mink coats, though, and in one case he even drags wife Coral Browne along for the fun. I hope very much that he was laughing all the way to the bank.

Related: Vincent Price tells you how to sell your soul to Satan