Tales of Poe, 2014.
Directed by Bart Mastronardi, Alan Rowe Kelly
Starring Caroline Williams, Debbie Rochon, Adrienne King, Amy Steel, Alan Rowe Kelly, Brewster McCall, Randy Jones.
An anthology film based on three of Edgar Allen Poe’s popular stories The Tell Tale Heart, Cask of Amontillado and Dreams.
Anthology films are well loved among horror aficionados, with the technique of bringing short stories out in segmented films stretching back to the very start of cinema. Edgar Allen Poe readers have been well served in the past, with 1962’s Tales of Terror striking that vital spot somewhere between black comedy and horror wonderfully well.
This film from Mastronardi and Kelly also manages to pull off the difficult trick of providing out and out bloody horror alongside a thoughtful and wryly humorous take on three of the master storyteller’s works.
Opening the show is an exquisitely grim retelling of possibly Poe’s best known story The Tell Tale Heart. The fantastically stylized piece focuses on just how far guilt – and a beating heart – can lead to trouble, and in this case, being put away in an institution. It’s a well crafted production, with the variation in tone between dreamlike intonations of threat and disturbance and full on screamadelic blood rush. It goes for the jugular right from the offing, but also contains a wistful sense of desolation and lost love, making it the perfect start to an eye-opening updating of Poe.
Next up is The Cask of Amontillado. This is concerned with that most human of frailties, greed and lust. The exotic locations and fine displays of wealth go some way to showing off just what is at stake, and that plus fine performances allow us entrance into a very dark world indeed. Unlike the protagonist though, we can get out! Another enjoyable chapter, with horror and humour mixing together well like a fine and bloody wine.
Closing the film is the most surprising element of all. Poe’s long poem Dreams is captured here in a superbly realized psychedelic display of light and shade. The writer’s essentially romantic soul is allowed the freedom to roam, and the non-narrative structure of the short film suits a platform that amounts to an elegant and memorable tribute to him and his work.
Surprising in its artistry and intensity, Tales of Poe serves up an intoxicating feast of nightmares…
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★/ Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Robert W Monk is a freelance journalist and film writer.