This Sunday is iconic horror author Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday, so we have some fitting viewing suggestions for this weekend.
I’m biased here, since the majority of Rodger Corman’s Poe adaptions star my childhood hero Vincent Price, but these are widely considered the best interpretations of Poe’s works. The Fall of the House of Usher was the first of the series, and while it’s not really faithful the original story, Price is great as always. It’s a claustrophobic, gothic movie with incestuous undertones, and a good starting point.
My personal favourite in Corman’s series is The Masque of the Red Death. A sudo-historical piece, it’s a sickly, dreamlike experience with Vincent Price playing a fantastically brutal villain. It’s also a beautiful film to look at; odd, distorted sets and strange visuals. If you haven’t seen this one, I’d highly recommend it.
Another great entry in Corman’s series is The Pit and the Pendulum, pairing Vincent Price with female horror legend Barbara Steele. Set in 16th century Spain, the story is about a young Englishman who visits a forbidding castle to investigate his sister’s mysterious death. We all know what the climactic scene entails, but it’s still shocking and eerie.
There’s eight films in Corman’s series, and it’s worth checking them all out, if only for the historic significant…and Vincent Price of course.
Lugosi and Karloff
Here’s a great excuse to watch two of horror’s greats again. The Raven stars Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, featuring Lugosi as a Poe-obsessed mad surgeon with a torture chamber in his basement and Karloff as a fugitive murderer desperately on the run from the police. The film didn’t do well on release, probably due to it’s grizzly themes for 1935.
The Black Cat is perhaps the best team up of the two stars. It’s genuinely unsettling, with black mass, an eerie score, and the famous skinning alive themes. There is an almost continuous musical score, as the film came between the silent and sound eras, which makes for a unique experience. The two actors work really well together, would really recommend this one.
If you fancy something more contemporary, you might want to check out The Raven (2012). Set in 1849, it is a fictionalized account of the last days of Edgar Allan Poe’s life, in which the poet and author pursues a serial killer whose murders mirror those in Poe’s stories. It didn’t get a great reception, but the musical score was well received, as well as the effects. It’s the most recent adaptation of Poe’s work, so it might be worth taking a look at for comparison.