I love Edgar Allan Poe and I'm not afraid to say it. Not the John Cusack, Edgar Allan Poe that the film The Raven the depicts but the author, who's macabre tales have become to be so embedded into our lives through television and film. Who could forget the Corman Classics that vaulted Vincent Price to fame or even the Treehouse of Terror, when Homer Simpson is chasing a Raven, squawking nevermore. These nightmare tales of long ago are the cornerstones of today's horror films.
Here are 5 Edgar Allan Poe Inspired Movies
5. The House of Usher (2006) - Masseuse and lonely hearts club member, Jill Michaelson receives a phone call that her former besty, Maddy Usher is dead. She cancels her appointments and heads out to the house of Usher for the funeral, where she fears meeting up with former flame and twin brother of the deceased, Roderick Usher. When she arrives, she is greeted coldly by the caretaker/nurse Mrs. Thatcher and meets up with Roderick. After the funeral, Roderick explains that he has a rare disease that has been with his family for years and that is why he broke up with her in the first place. He tells her that he has found a way to control it and wants to rekindle the love that they once had but she demands that no more secrets be kept between them. He agrees and she spends the weekend, unfortunately, she keeps thinking that she sees her dead friend Maddy on the grounds. When she mentions it to Mrs. Thatcher, she gets another lecture about how she is not welcome in the house. Also, she discovers that Roderick has been keeping secrets and he has a Sensory Deprivation chamber, which he uses to regenerate himself, when he feels low from the disease. That bastard! And she still is seeing Maddy around? What's going on, is Jill losing her mind? I hope so because at least that would be interesting. This movie is sooooo dull. The movie runs for an hour and 21 minutes and the last 15 are really the best. Austin Nichols, who plays Roderick Usher, is so stiff and lifeless that they should have used a cardboard cut out of him. The only saving grace to Izabella's Miko's performance is that her nipples are showing through her skimpy skirts in every scene. Maybe she was to cold to act, I don't know. Beth Grant who played Thatcher, is creepy and I though she was good, until the end when her character starts doing things that are confusing and don't make sense. I read that this won an award for cinematography in Boston, I would have hated to see the other competitors films. There's a little blood letting near the end, when people start doing stuff but it doesn't make up for the dullness of the whole film.
4. Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971) - Madeleine Charron is having nightmares about a masked man wielding an ax and chasing her through a house. She seems to have these nightmares everywhere, including at work where she is an actress on stage being attacked by a gorilla. Although she is sleeping through her part, the play goes off with out a hitch and everyone is happy until... they realize the man in the gorilla costume wasn't the right guy because that guy is dead in a closet from acid in the face. Dun Dun Dun! Cesar, the troupe's lead actor, owner and aged husband to the young Madeline, is distraught over the death of his colleague, gorilla man, and after speaking to the police, he goes to speak with his old friend at the whorehouse. Apparently, she was part of Cesar's troupe and remembers how Madeline's mother, who was also an actress in his troupe, was supposedly killed by her husband, Rene Marot, another actor, after he had been splash in the face with acid during a show, completely disfiguring him and driving him into madness, MADNESS! Then he was killed and they both remember being at his funeral, so it couldn't be him because he's dead. So they make out and then Cesar leaves, only moments later a masked man in a cape comes looking for the same lady. As she gets ready for more sexy time, but he pours acid on her face and bang, now she's dead. The police are baffled, Madeline can't sleep because of her dreams and Cesar is worried that his former friend and alleged ax murder, Rene Marot is on the loose! Can Cesar and Madeline find out the truth, stop the terrifying dreams and put Rene Marot to rest? This movie is kind of all over the place and has a man in a gorilla suit, which from my experience, never bodes well for a movie. The dream sequences show up a lot and I wished that the film focused more on the Madeline character searching out the truth instead of the Cesar character played Jason Robards looking for the killer. I think Herbert Lom, who plays Rene Marot is terrific and makes a great villain but some of his lines are kind of hokey. A lot of Acid gets thrown around to kill people, eventually there are some good ax killings. Very loosely based on Poe's story of the same name, but it worth checking out.
3. Tell Tale (2009) - Terry is a lonely young dad who has recently had a heart transplant. His daughter, Angela has a rare disease and hot doctor lady, Elizabeth Clemson,taking care of her, so he needs to visit the hospital all the time. On one of the occasions at the hospital, Terry passes an EMT and his heart goes ballistic, what's going on! Is it a stroke, a heart attack, is Terry in love? Terry talks with his doctor and the doctor reassures Terry that everything is fine. When the doctor leaves his office, Terry has a sneak peek at his file and learns his donors name was Jean Vieillard. With more research, he learns that Jean Vieillard and his wife were murdered in a botched break & enter. Later at the hospital, he passes the same EMT and heart starts pounding, he recognizes the EMT's name from his file and goes outside to speak with him. When Terry mentions the name Vieillard, the EMT freaks out and mentions the name, Acherton and then Terry shanks him with some glass. Terry gets home and can't believe what has happened! So he goes to bed. The next day, he contacts the detective who work the Vieillard case and drops the name Acherton to see if the detective has heard it before. He hadn't but is interested why Terry is so interested in the case and Terry lies and says he knew Vieillard. That night, while at the hospital with his daughter, he passes an orderly and his heart goes berserk. He notices that his name is Acherton! He waits til Acherton leaves and follows him to the train. Then without asking any questions, pushes Acherton into the on coming train. Terry realizes that his heart is finding the people who killed his donor and the wife of the donor and it's the only way to stop the pounding of his hideous heart! The movie's okay and it's an interesting take on the story, but the Terry character doesn't ask enough questions when he finds these people who killed Vieillard. If he did, then the movie would be over in half the time. The daughter, seems to be a place holder character to bring Dr. Clemson and Terry together, because she disappears when not needed and no one seems babysit when Terry goes out to kill, even though she seems to need constant attention. The killing scenes are fine, nothing to really gory, but it's what you would expect from a television director. The ending twist is visible miles away and leaves you humdrum and wishing it could have been placed a little earlier just to get it out of the way. All round, not the best Poe telling but not the worst.
2. The Black Cat (1934) - Peter & Joan Allison are enjoying their honeymoon traveling by train across Hungary when they end up sharing their car with Dr. Vitus Werdegast. When they arrive at the station, they share a bus and Werdegast explains that he is visiting his friend, Hjalmar Poelzig. On the way there they run into a terrible storm and while the bus driver is giving everybody horrific tidbits of information about the area, he crashes the bus. Joan is injured but luckily, Hjalmar only lives a little ways away. They arrive and are graciously received by Hjalmar. Dr. Werdegast tends to Joan and everything seems to be alright. However, Dr. Werdegast has secretly come to exact revenge on Hjalmar for betraying him and his country man during the war and for stealing his wife while Dr. Werdegast was in prison. Hjalmar doesn't seem to care and tells Werdegast that his wife and daughter, Karen are dead. While they're talking a black cat comes into the room and Dr. Werdegast flips out and shoots the cat. Apparently, he really doesn't like cats. Well, there's been enough excitement for one day, so everyone goes to bed, except Hjalmar, who goes down his secret hallway of women enclosed in class to sleep with Karen, who he is now married to. um eww. The next morning, Peter and Joan want to get the hell out of there, but there is no phone, car, bicycle or even balloon that can take them into town. Did I mention that Hjalmar was a Satanist? Well, he is and all his cult friends are swinging by tonight to sacrifice Joan. Can Dr. Werdegast save Peter and Joan by making a bet on a chess game? Watch and find out! Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff star in this very loosely based Poe yarn. Lugosi as Dr. Werdegast does play a good misunderstood hero to Karloff's evil Hjalmar Poelzig. This is the first of 8 pairing for this duo which was the biggest box office draw for Universal the year it came out. The film is good and it's fun because they make Karloff's character more evil as the film goes on. Nothing gory with the exception of a flaying scene, which is done in shadow, but there are some tense scenes. The film has very little to do with the story "The Black Cat" but it's just an hour and but and worth checking out.
1. The Masque of the Red Death (1964) - Douchebag and landowner, Prince Prospero has come to one of his villages. While there, Gino, local farmer/big mouth gives Prince Prospero a piece of his mind and gets thrown into chains. Gino's girlfriend, Francesca and her father beg for his Prince Prospero forgiveness and to free Gino. So Prospero has them all chained to teach them a lesson. Before they leave, a guard informs him there is an old woman there with the Red Death plague! Prince Prospero commands them to burn the village and they head out, leaving the village in flames. Gino and Francesca's father are locked up in the dungeon, while the Prince comes up with a suitable death for the both of them and decides to find a way to turn Francesca's soul over to Satan, his master. Prince Prospero is a Satanist and believes that he is the Devil's right hand man on Earth and his girlfriend, Julianna wants to marry Satan, so they think they are safe from the Red Death. So to celebrate being locked up in the his castle away from the Red Death, Prince Prospero is going to have a Masquerade party. How will Francesca keep her soul from Satan, rescue her father and the love of her life, Gino! Will Evil finally triumph over good and will Prospero's terrible deeds go unvanquished? I really enjoy Corman's films. Vincent Price is awesome as the villain, Prince Prospero and really sells the evil the way only Vincent Price can. The sets are gorgeous and Roger Corman does a fantastic adding other nuances of Poe tales into the story. The story is way over the top and has little similarity to the actual story but it still does a great job in being scary. Not a lot of blood, but a huge body count! This is one to really watch if you like classic horror.
Most of these films use Poe's tales as a launching board and some hit the pool and other didn't notice that the pool was drained. There are dozens of anthologies of his stories and I highly recommend reading them, if you enjoying tales of terror. Who knows, you may need a fiendish idea at some time, so why not take one from the best.
P.S - This 5 could have been really easy and I could have just watched all the Roger Corman movies but I've seen that there are more recent telling of these tales and I think it's fun to find movies.