Poe Poe Pitiful Me

“…very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?” For adding another horror blog to The Interwebz?

I wondered for quite a while how to start this whole thing off. Then I remembered January 19 is Poe’s birthday. Obviously I had to start today, and thought it only right to open up a new horror blog by discussing a few film versions of my very favorite Poe story, “The Tell-tale Heart.”

I’ll start with some gory revenge from beyond the grave, Michael Cuesta’s Tell-TaleTerry (Josh Lucas who I liked a lot in A Beautiful Mind) gets a heart transplant. The heart compels Terry to avenge the death of its original owner. Nothing new there. The heart is, sadly, the only connection to Poe. From there, the story strays a bit. One Rotten Tomatoes reviewer calls it “the ‘heart version’ of The Eye.” Overall pretty watchable. A nod as well to the production studio, Poe Boy. Nice.

Time for a classic from 1970, Kenneth Johnson’s An Evening Of Edgar Allan Poe, an anthology of one-man performances by, who else, Vincent Price. Of course. The first of the four is a masterful, I think, “Tell-tale Heart.” He goes on to cover “The Sphinx,” “The Cask Of Amontillado,” (my second favorite Poe story), and “The Pit And The Pendulum.” Really, there’s nothing else that needs to be said. It’s Vincent Fucking Price. Come on.

There have been, obviously, countless short films made of this story. Most of them are way too melodramatic. But here’s one I stumbled across on the Tube Of You while I was trying desperately to find my all-time favorite (which I’m coming to). Pretty sure it’s a student film. Since Poe’s story is pure narrative, there isn’t much we actually need to see happen. This is often one of the major failings in translating this story to film. Now and then, though, the idea is nicely handled, in this case by director Jack Hartley.

Hands down my favorite version of this I saw only once, many years ago, on Bravo. It was Steven Berkoff (plays a lot of baddies, like in Beverly Hills Cop and Rambo: First Blood Part II). It truly is one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen. I would argue even better than Vincent Price. You can find this 1991 version at Stevenberkoff.com. I have yet to break down and buy it. Pretty sure it’s just a matter of time. There’s also a no-dialogue version from his one-man show that I don’t like nearly as much, but at least you can find that one on the Tube Of You.

I’ve seen others that I have not mentioned here, wanting only to focus on these. There are also several I have, so far, only heard of. Apparently Ryan Connolly’s Tell is worth checking out. Admittedly I haven’t gotten to it. Yet.

So that’s it. That’s my start to yet another horror blog.

If you’d like to weigh in on any of these or alert me to others, please comment.



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