Tuesday, September 18, 2012

10 Classic Movies Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe



Quoth the raven, "Nevermore!"

Movies and shorts inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe first appeared during the silent era, but Poe’s greatest age came in the 1960s, when Roger Corman made the author his macabre muse for a series of cult horror classics. With Vincent Price as his leading man, Corman defined the Poe movie canon for generations of horror fans. Here are ten classic movies inspired by Poe’s works, with special emphasis on the Corman pictures.

The Black Cat (1934) – Universal monster stars Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi head up the cast in this hit film from the golden age of classic horror. Like most movie “adaptations” of Poe’s work, the story takes many liberties with the original text and functions more as a tribute to Poe’s influence than a strict translation.

The Raven (1935) – Following on the success of the 1934 picture, this Universal horror treatment again teams Karloff and Lugosi in the lead roles, although the story is once more really a tribute to Poe’s work than an actual adaptation of it.

The Black Cat (1941) – Well-known stars like Basil Rathbone, Broderick Crawford, and Bela Lugosi appear in this adaptation from Universal Pictures and director Albert S. Rogell.

House of Usher (1960) – Corman’s first Poe movie stars horror favorite Vincent Price as Roderick Usher. While Corman’s film is more faithful to Poe than many other pictures, the story still makes major changes to the plot of the original tale, including a romance between the house guest and Madeline Usher.

Pit and the Pendulum (1961) – Richard Matheson wrote the screenplay for this Corman adaptation of one of Poe’s best-known tales, which stars Vincent Price, John Kerr, and Barbara Steele in the leading roles.
 
Premature Burial (1962) – Ray Milland and scream queen Hazel Court star in this Corman production, the only Poe picture not to star Vincent Price. 

Tales of Terror (1962) – Richard Matheson once again contributes the screenplay for Corman’s anthology of shorts inspired by several Poe tales, including “The Black Cat,” “Morella,” “The Cast of Amontillado,” and “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar.” The teaming of Peter Lorre and Price for this picture’s version of “The Cask of Amontillado” is a highlight for fans.

The Raven (1963) – This horror comedy from Corman unites Vincent Price with Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and Hazel Court for a rather silly but fun take on Poe’s most famous poem. A young Jack Nicholson also appears as Peter Lorre’s son.

The Masque of the Red Death (1964) – Vincent Price and Hazel Court star in yet another Corman film, which also incorporates elements from a different Poe story, “Hop-Frog.”

The Tomb of Ligeia (1964) – Price stars with Elizabeth Shepherd in the last of Corman’s Poe pictures, this time a story of obsession that reaches beyond the grave. The outdoor location shots early in the movie set this picture apart from the earlier Corman productions.

While The Haunted Palace (1963) is often listed with the Poe films, and its title is taken from a poem featured in “The Fall of the House of Usher,” the story actually comes from H.P. Lovecraft. Still, you’ll find Vincent Price teamed up with Lon Chaney, Jr., Elisha Cook, Jr., and Debra Paget in this bonus “Poe picture” from Corman.

An earlier version of this article originally appeared on Examiner.com. The author retains all rights to this content.