Summer is over, as we enter autumn I resume an annual tradition. Every year between now and Halloween I read only Edgar Allan Poe. Having worked my way through his complete written works an extraordinary number of times, I decided to do a Cinematic Poe Fest! So from now until Halloween (except for the previously scheduled blogging events), I am watching only Edgar Allan Poe Films!
Edgar Allan Poe was a genius. As a writer, he is a master craftsman and a clever wordsmith. He is on par with Shakespeare. But beyond the technique I love Poe for the sheer beauty of his words.
No actor’s name is more synonymous with Poe than Vincent Price!
But then again very few actors had such close engagement with Poe’s material.
In The House of Usher (1960), Price plays Roderick Usher the last male in a cursed bloodline, doomed to madness, fire, destruction, death.
In The Pit and The Pendulum (1961), Price plays two characters, Nicholas Medina and Sebastian Medina. Taken from Poe’s novella about the Spanish Inquisition, the film departs from the source material, until the film’s climax!
In Tales of Terror (1962) Price stars in three separate short stories, based on Morella, The Black Cat, The Cask of Amontillado, and The Facts in The Case of M. Valdemar.
In The Raven, (1963) Price plays Dr. Erasmus Craven, this film is a bizarre comedy and only takes its title from Poe’s poem, The Raven. I am pretty sure Poe would have had an attack if he saw this film, but if you are not the author of the source material, this really is a riot!
In The Tomb of Ligeia (1965), Price plays Verden Fell, a widower, obsessed with his former wife. His former wife Ligeia stalks the grounds as a black cat. When Fell remarries, all heck breaks loose. And by “Heck” I mean blinding, literal cat fights, fire, and destruction.
The Oblong Box (1969) I have not seen this one yet, but it stars Vincent Price and Christopher Lee, so it is a ghoulish gal’s dream come true!
Even some of Vincent Price’s films not based on Poe’s literature ended up with a Poe title or a quick quote to capitalize on the brilliant pairing:
Witchfinder General (based on Ronald Bassett’s novel) released as The Conqueror Worm in the U.S. (named for Poe’s poem) is available on Netflix streaming.
The Haunted Palace takes its name from a Poe poem and contains a quote from Poe, but technically based on The Case of Charles Dexter Ward by H.P. Lovecraft! I located a free version through video DailyMotion.
Cry of The Banshee is attributed to Poe but only contains lines from the poem The Bells.
[Price] always loved Poe’s work, considering him one of the great American literary masters. (Price N.P.)
These films are great fun but don’t give the viewer a sense of Poe’s genius. The screenplays only vaguely resemble their source material. As a Vincent Price fan, they are fantastic, but as an Edgar Allan Poe fan, they are unsatisfactory.
Luckily there are Vincent Price performances for the Poe Purist!
My favorite Poe piece is The Raven published in 1845, here is Vincent Price’s rendition, you can sense Price’s appreciation for Poe!
Click Play on the Embedded Video or Click Here for The Raven
But I had no idea Vincent Price made yet another Edgar Allan Poe film, An Evening With Edgar Allan Poe (1970)! That’s what happens when you read more Poe than you watch you just don’t know! Unlike the other Poe films, this is not a traditional film adaptation! It is a storytelling event with sets, costumes, and props. In this production, Vincent Price, and ONLY VINCENT PRICE, recites four of Poe’s short stories: The Tell-Tale Heart, The Sphinx, The Cask of Amontillado, and The Pit and The Pendulum.This film is my favorite Vincent Price/Edgar Allan Poe pairing, because the text is pure, not an adaptation, but it is something for the hardcore Price/Poe fans. If you are a hardcore Poe fan, like me, then this might be the best thing you’ve ever seen!
Click Play on the Embedded Video or Click Here for An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe
In our next Poe Fest Installment, I will cover films that attempt to tell Poe’s life story and his mysterious death.
In the meantime, please enjoy Vincent Price narrating this lovely little short. Vincent, by Tim Burton, is about a boy obsessed with Vincent Price and Edgar Allan Poe! I am certain if this kid went to my elementary school we would have been best friends.
Poe Reading List
- The Raven
- The Fall of The House of Usher
- The Pit and The Pendulum
- The Black Cat
- The Cask of Amontillado
- The Facts in The Case of M. Valdemar
- The Masque of the Red Death
- The Oblong Box
- The Conqueror Worm
- The Haunted Palace
- The Bells
- The Tell-Tale Heart
- The Sphinx
- The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
- The Witchfinder General
And don’t forget to mark your calendars, in January I host the France on Film Blogathon a two-day salute to French Cinema and International Films with French subject matter.
Price, Victoria. Vincent Price: A Daughter’s Biography. New York: Open Road Distribution. 1999. Web.