adaptation, Charles Beaumont, Edgar Allan Poe, Fall of the House of Usher, film, horror, movie posters, photography, Pit and the Pendulum, Richard Matheson, Roger Corman, Tales of Terror, The Haunted Palace, The Masque of the Red Death, The Raven, The Tomb of Ligeia, Tower of London, Vincent Price
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There are many memorable pairings in the world of horror: Peter Cushing & Christopher Lee, Van Helsing & Dracula, Doctor Frankenstein & his Monster, Scooby Doo & Shaggy. And here is another interesting duo for your consideration — Vincent Price & Edgar Allan Poe.
If you’re a fan of Poe and a fan of Price, and you happen to be a film producer, the only logical thing to do is adapt Poe to the big screen and cast Vincent Price as your lead. Which is exactly what film producer Roger Corman did.
Between 1960 and 1964, Corman produced eight films adapted from Edgar Allan Poe’s writings. Only one of the films, “The Premature Burial” (1962), didn’t star Vincent Price.
Corman covered the most popular and recognizable of Poe’s tales. For his “Poe Cycle”, he collaborated with writers Richard Matheson (“The Fall of the House of Usher”, “The Pit and the Pendulum”, “The Raven“, “Tales of Terror”), and Charles Beaumont (“Masque of the Red Death”, “The Haunted Palace”). At the time, both men were hard at work writing for one of my all-time favourite shows, the classic, ever-popular anthology series, The Twilight Zone.
With Halloween little more than a week away, here is a pictorial look at the unique pairing of Poe & Price for you to savour. And if you’ve never watched these films or it’s been a while, then why not have yourself a little Halloween marathon? Enjoy, darlings.
The condition of man: bound on an island from which he can never hope to escape; surrounded by the waiting pit of Hell; subject to the inexorable pendulum of fate – which must destroy him, finally.
~ Nicholas/Sebastian Medina, “Pit and the Pendulum”
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The Fall of the House of Usher
Vincent Price as Roderick Usher
While I gazed, this fissure rapidly widened — there came a fierce breath of the whirlwind — the entire orb of the satellite burst at once upon my sight — my brain reeled as I saw the mighty walls rushing asunder — there was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters — and the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the “House of Usher”.
~ Edgar Allan Poe, “The Fall of the House of Usher”
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Pit and the Pendulum
Vincent Price as Nicholas/Sebastian Medina
A suffocating odour pervaded the prison! A deeper glow settled each moment in the eyes that glared at my agonies! A richer tint of crimson diffused itself over the pictured horrors of blood. I panted! I gasped for breath! There could be no doubt of the design of my tormentors — oh! most unrelenting! oh! most demoniac of men!
~ Edgar Allan Poe, “The Pit and the Pendulum”
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Tales of Terror
Vincent Price as Locke, Fortunato, Luchresi, M. Valdemar
This anthology film is based on three of Poe’s short stories: “Morella”, “The Black Cat” (loosely combined with “The Cask of Amontillado”), and “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar.”
“It is a day of days,” she said, as I approached; “a day of all days either to live or die. It is a fair day for the sons of earth and life — ah, more fair for the daughters of heaven and death! I am dying, yet shall I live. The days have never been when thou couldst love me — but her whom in life thou didst abhor, in death thou shalt adore.”
~ Edgar Allan Poe, “Morella”
The corpse, already greatly decayed and clotted with gore, stood erect before the eyes of the spectators. Upon its head, with red extended mouth and solitary eye of fire, sat the hideous beast whose craft had seduced me into murder, and whose informing voice had consigned me to the hangman. I had walled the monster up within the tomb!
~ Edgar Allan Poe, “The Black Cat”
As I rapidly made the mesmeric passes, amid ejaculations of “dead! dead!” absolutely bursting from the tongue and not from the lips of the sufferer, his whole frame at once — within the space of a single minute, or even less, shrunk — crumbled — absolutely rotted away beneath my hands. Upon the bed, before that whole company, there lay a nearly liquid mass of loathsome — of detestable putridity.
~ Edgar Allan Poe, “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar”
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1962 –– Dr. Erasmus Craven
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling, by the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore, “Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven. Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore,— Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!” Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
~ Edgar Allan Poe, “The Raven”
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The Haunted Palace
1963 -– Charles Dexter Ward/Joseph Curwen
But evil things, in robes of sorrow, assailed the monarch’s high estate; (Ah, let us mourn!—for never morrow shall dawn upon him, desolate!) and round about his home the glory that blushed and bloomed is but a dim-remembered story of the old time entombed.
~Edgar Allan Poe, “The Haunted Palace”
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The Masque of the Red Death
1964 –– Prince Prospero
And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.
~ Edgar Allan Poe, “The Masque of the Red Death”
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The Tomb of Ligeia
1964 -– Verden Fell
Shrinking from my touch, she let fall from her head, unloosened, the ghastly cerements which had confined it, and there streamed forth, into the rushing atmosphere of the chamber, huge masses of long and dishevelled hair; it was blacker than the raven wings of the midnight! And now slowly opened the eyes of the figure which stood before me. “Here then, at least,” I shrieked aloud, “can I never — can I never be mistaken — these are the full, and the black, and the wild eyes — of my lost love — of the lady — of the LADY LIGEIA.
~ Edgar Allan Poe, “Ligeia”
Until next time, unpleasant dreams . . .