Now at cinemas across the land, in the shadow of super epic dull sci-fi JOHN CARTER, we have a new film which depicts some kind of tale inspired by the works and life of classic hugely influential horror and genre author EDGAR ALLAN POE, JAMES McTIGUE’S THE RAVEN. Starring the always entertaining and very watchable JOHN CUSSACK in the lead as POE, the film seems to be mostly a wildfire classic shock you and rock you horror ride. The director of the movie adaptation of ALAN MOORE’S subversive graphic novel V FOR VENDETTA, which on release was unfairly criticised but now can be seen as at least a fairly bold worthwhile movie. Taking his time to return, McTIGUE has return with another strong genre movie, which is loyal to the source material, honouring the fans and writing of POE, while attempting to produce an original tale for cinema, where in POE himself is dramatically involved in the terror.
This I have recently seen in similar fashion, in one of the MASTERS OF HORROR ,television series episodes from a couple of years back. That was a very successful tale, where POE loses grip on his reality, his writing and is then gripped by his strong paranoid fears to disturbing lengths.
There have been of course very many cinematic adaptations of classic POE tales for decades now, some terrible but some very fantastic equally.
Some of the strongest and continually striking, even of horror film in genral, are the POE films from ROGER CORMAN from he sixties. THE HOUSE OF USHER, THE MASK OF THE RED DEATH, THE RAVEN, THE TOMB OF LIGEIA, most of which starred the legend that was VINCENT PRICE . This combination of CORMAN and PRICE seemed to be just definatively perfect for depicting POE on screen. So haunting, atmospheric, terrifying still to this day.
The Czech acclaimed and influential bizzarre animator/filmmaker JAN SVANKMAJER has produced a number of POE inspired and influenced short animated and stop motion/live action mixed films in his own very surreal dark disturbing artistic manner.
Another interesting very graphic strong version inspired by POE’s THE BLACK CAT was from Italian horror legend DARIO ARGENTO in the two part movie TWO EVIL EYES, with the other half directed by GEORGE ROMERO. ARGENTO’S POE tale, starred HARVEY KIETEL fighting the unstoppable maddening feline over and over.
This new film by McTIEGUE does look to be a highly entertaining if simply only a thrill-ride dark mystery chiller, steeped in gothic design and atmosphere. It seems a suitable fitting role for JOHN CUSSACK to inhabit, his usual paranoid clever eyes, witty sly smile and drole manner certainly perfect to play POE. Will it stand up next to the classic CORMAN adaptations? Highly unlikely but it probably should not be compared on the same level. Times have changed, so have movies, and for a modern POE mainstream adaptation of inspired movie, it would be a different kind of dark terror.
‘All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream’
-EDGAR ALLAN POE