Happy Birthday Edgar!

Edar Allan Poe is one of my favorite writers. His use of first-person narration and lurid Gothic imagery gives him a unique voice. There’s nothing like reading “The Raven” on a cold, gray afternoon. Whenever I read Poe, the images in my mind’s eye possess almost no color. To use an analogy, I don’t see Poe’s stories as black and white films. Rather, I see them as color movies shot using a blue film stock. I’m not sure why – it’s just the picture that formed in my head when I first started reading Poe.

Detroit-born Roger Corman clearly visualized Poe’s work differently. Between 1959 and 1964, Corman made eight adaptations of Poe’s work (actually “The Haunted Palace” only takes its name from Poe – it’s actually based on H. P. Lovecraft’s The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward, but I’m willing it count it). These eight movies, sometimes called Corman’s Poe Cycle, were filmed in vivid color and often had few dark shadows.

While Corman’s bright palette is jarring for me, there’s something fun about his adaptations. Perhaps it’s Vincent Price chewing the scenery or perhaps it’s how he incorporated Poe’s “Hop-Frog” into “The Masque of the Red Death.”  Perhaps it’s that Corman hewed closely to Poe’s themes, if not his imagery.

Regardless, Poe’s birthday is a good excuse to watch one of Corman’s cult classics. And to whet your appetite here’s a trailer: From 1960, starring Vincent Price…”House of Usher”

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2 Comments

Filed under Ramblings

2 responses to “Happy Birthday Edgar!

  1. I need to write this up, but I first saw ‘House of Usher’ in junior high as a congraduating ninth-grader. And it was probably Roger Corman who first got me interested in reading Edgar Allan Poe. You know the Mystery Writers of America have Edgar has their mascot? And the L.A. Chapter has him wearing sunglasses (I’ve got their T-shirt to confirm this).

    • tkguthat

      It’s interesting about the Mystery Writers of America and the Edgar. It makes sense because of Poe’s work defining the mystery/detective genre, but I always think of Poe as a horror/gothic writer. Whenever I see a reference to the Edgar, I have to mentally correct myself that it’s not the Horror Writers of America, but the Mystery Writers 🙂

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