23 January, 2009


From death at 40 to Immortality...


Howard Vernon's Dr. Eric Usher...

I didn't get the chance to post on that day but Jan. 19th 2009 was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, the greatest, and most influential, horror/science fiction/mystery/detective fiction writer in the English language, and perhaps in any language. In his short [40 year] lifespan he managed to create genres and forms which expanded literature in the 19th, 20th and 21st Centuries. In terms of fantastic/fantasy/Gothic cinema he is probably the most adapted of all writers. What I find interesting is that in many cases the films which stray farthest from the original stories in terms of plotting, or aren't Poe adaptations at all (Riccardo Freda's 1962 L'ORRIBLE SEGRETO DEL DOTTORE HICHCOCK comes most readily to mind), are sometimes closer in spirit to Poe than the more literal adaptations.

Filmmakers have attempted to recreate his worlds since the silent era. Of course, the popular 1960's Roger Corman/AIP series was a mainstay of my wayward youth. Poe couldn't be more relevant to the subject of this blog considering the Jess Franco Poe inspired films of the 70s, 80s and 1990s.

The best known JF Poe adaptation is probably EL HUNDIMIENTO DE LAS CASA USHER aka LOS CRIMENES DE USHER/NEVROSE/NEUROSIS/REVENGE IN THE HOUSE OF USHER. This controversial 1983 effort presents us with a radically different viewing experience depending on which of the alternate versions you see.

This week I re watched a R2 disc I had [thanks to Francesco Cesari] of the Spanish language version, clocking in at under 80m. I now think this may be one of the closest cinematic equivalents [in terms of being in the spirit of...] to Poe in terms of style and thematic evolution. And it makes a fascinating double bill with Corman's 1960 AIP version. I'll have a lot more to say on the versions and my thoughts on this film, Franco's other Poe films and other Poe film adaptations throughout 2009, Poe's Bicentennial.

(c) Robert Monell, 2009

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