4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Edgar Allan Poe Edition

4 (or more) Shots From 4 (or more) Films is just what it says it is, 4 (or more) shots from 4 (or more) of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 (or more) Shots From 4 (or more) Films lets the visuals do the talking.

212 years ago today, Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts.  From his humble beginnings as the son of two struggling actors, Poe would go on to become one of the first great American writers.  (It’s been said that, when Charles Dickens first traveled to the United States in 1842, he specifically wanted to meet Edgar Allan Poe.  Unfortunately, it appears that popular story my not be true but it’s still a good story.)  Poe was controversial in life and even his death generated more questions than answers but no one can deny his strength as a poet and as a prose writer.  Both the detective and the horror genres owe a huge debt to Edgar Allan Poe.

Today, in honor of Edgar Allan Poe’s legacy, TSL presents 4 shots from 4 films that were inspired by the work of Edgar Allan Poe!

4 Shots From 4 Films

House of Usher (1960, dir by Roger Corman, DP: Floyd Crosby)

The Pit and the Pendulum (1961, dir by Roger Corman, DP: Floyd Crosby)

The Raven (1963, dir by Roger Corman, DP: Floyd Crosby)

The Masque of the Red Death (1964, dir by Roger Corman, DP: Nicolas Roeg)

Horror Scenes That I Love: Vincent Price’s monologue in Roger Corman’s Masque of the Red Death

This scene, from 1964’s Masque of the Red Death, was directed by Roger Corman, performed by Vincent Price, and shot by Nicolas Roeg.  It was based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe.  That’s a lot of talent on display.


Halloween Havoc!: THE BLACK CAT (Universal 1934)

cracked rear viewer

THE BLACK CAT has nothing to do with Edgar Allan Poe , but don’t let that stop you from enjoying this thoroughly dark, twisted film. Not only is it the first teaming of horror icons Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi , it’s their only movie together that plants the two stars on equal ground. It’s also the best film ever made by cult director Edagr G. Ulmer , who’d never again get the opportunity to work at a major studio, or the chance to work with a pair of legends like Boris and Bela in one film.

Bela is Dr. Vitus Verdegast, eminent Hungarian psychiatrist, returning after 15 long years in a Russian prison camp to “visit an old friend” at Marmaros, “the greatest graveyard in the world”, where tens of thousands died during WWI. Vitus is forced by chance to spend the train ride with American honeymooners Peter and…

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Creature Double Feature 5: THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (AIP 1964) and THE TOMB OF LIGEIA (AIP 1965)

cracked rear viewer

Boston’s WLVI-TV 56 ran it’s ‘Creature Double Feature’ series from 1972 to 1983. Though fans remember it mostly for those fabulous giant monster movies starring Godzilla and friends, CDF occasionally featured some monsters of a different kind… 

Roger Corman and Vincent Price had teamed to make five successful Edgar Allan Poe adaptations for American-International Pictures, beginning with 1960’s HOUSE OF USHER (there was a sixth, THE PREMATURE BURIAL, that starred Ray Milland rather than Price). Studio execs James Nicholson and Sam Arkoff, always on the lookout for ways to cut costs, joined forces with Britain’s Anglo-Amalgamated Productions (makers of the CARRY ON comedies) and shipped Corman and company to jolly ol’ England for the final two, THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH and THE TOMB OF LIGEIA. Both turned out to be high points in the Corman/Price/Poe series.

1964’s MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH is a sadistic, psychedelic nightmare of…

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4 Shots From 4 Films: Happy Birthday Edgar Allan Poe

4 Shots from 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots from 4 Films lets the visuals do the talkin. Edgar Allan Poe, master of the macabre, was born on this date in 1809. His poems and shorts stories served as the inspiration for a series of films by Roger Corman, most starring the inimitable Vincent Price! To honor Poe’s birthday, here’s 4 shots of Poe films by director Roger Corman:

House of Usher (1960)

Pit and the Pendulum (1961)

The Raven (1963)

Masque of the Red Death (1964)

Film Review: The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe (dir by Harry Lachman)

I have to admit that the 1942 film, The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe, turned out to be far different from what I was expecting.

Just based on the title, I was expecting it would be a highly fictionalized, borderline silly film about Edgar Allan Poe defeating his romantic rivals and winning the hand of the woman he loved while still finding time to write The Raven.  I figured that there would be at least a few gentlemanly fisticuffs, with Poe portrayed as a combination of Rhett Butler and Cary Grant.  Looking at the title, it was easy for me to imagine the film closing with Poe kissing his future wife and then looking straight at the camera.  “Quoth the Raven!” he would say and wink while romantic music swelled in the background…

But no.  The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe is actually a very conventional biopic.  With a running time of only 67 minutes, the movie often feels rather rushed but it still manages to include most of the better known details of Edgar Allan Poe’s short but eventful life.  (An ever-present narrator is always ready to fill us in on every thing that happens off-screen.)  The film doesn’t spend much time on what initially inspired Poe’s macabre imagination.  There’s a scene of Poe, as a child, standing on a desolate hill and looking at a raven perched in a dead tree.  With the exception of an extended section that deals with Annabel Lee, that’s about as deep as the movie is willing to get as far as Poe’s art is concerned.

When Poe grows up, he’s played by actor Sheppard Strudwick, who has a good mustache but never exactly comes across as being the type of tortured genius who would eventually end up both revolutionizing literature and drinking himself to death.  The majority of the film deals with Poe’s advocacy for copyright reform, which is an important issue but not exactly the most cinematic of concerns.  Poe survives college.  Poe tries to sell The Raven for $25.  Eventually, Poe marries Virginia Clemm (Linda Darnell) and her subsequent sickness and death leads to not only Poe’s greatest work but also his own tragic end.

Along the way, Poe meets both Thomas Jefferson and Charles Dickens.  Jefferson shows up long enough to tell a young Poe that he’s a good writer and that he needs to stop gambling.  Dickens meets Poe and encourages him to continue to advocate for better copyright laws.

It is known that Poe and Dickens actually did meet but did Poe also meet Thomas Jefferson?  Legend says that he did but no one knows for sure.   Here’s what we do know:

Poe attended the University of Virginia in 1826.  The University’s founder, former President Thomas Jefferson, was still alive in 1826 and would often invite promising students to Monticello.  Whether Jefferson was still doing that when Poe enrolled at the University of Virginia is questionable.  Jefferson died five months after Poe started his studies.

As for Dickens, Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe admired each other’s writing and they met in Philadelphia during Dickens’s 1842 tour of North America.  No record has been kept of what they discussed, though some think that Dickens told Poe about his pet raven and perhaps inspired Poe’s best-remembered poem.  In the movie, they discuss copyright laws, which is nowhere near as much fun.

(When it comes to Poe’s meetings with both Jefferson and Dickens, it is perhaps best to remember the lesson of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and print the legend.)

The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe is a very short film and an obviously low-budget one as well.  When the presence of that somewhat pedantic narrator, The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe feels more like an educational special than a real movie.  It’s an okay introduction to Poe’s life but, ultimately, the best way to get to know Edgar Allan Poe is to sit down and start reading.