Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tales of Poe, Horror from the Master in a Contemporary Setting

As an English major at Boston College, my favorite writer was Edgar Allan Poe. I was alone, as most of my classmates claimed to be Shakespeare or Shelley or Keats enthusiasts.  I liked horror, and Poe was it!  When my newest social media pal, Alan Rowe Kelly, contacted me and asked me to review an anthology, 2014's "Tales of Poe," I jumped on the opportunity. Kelly and Bart Mastronardi have made a superb Poe anthology for us horror lovers. Though some might claim this film is a contemporary look at three Poe tales, I would maintain that these three segments represent Poe and his themes well, without distorting his intentions. Oh yes, you horror film fans, especially slasher fans, enjoy the performances of Debbie Rochon (narrator), Adrienne King, Amy Steel, Lesleh Donaldson (Curtains), Caroline Williams .....and many more.
Segment 1: "The Tell Tale Heart," may seem like an updated version of the classic tale, and I guess it is. The symbolism, and metaphor are the same, and the fact that a female is the fiend may be an added twist.  This story also reminded me a bit of the more sadistic and nefarious elements of "Sunset Boulevard." Gory, as this tale should be, we witness the nurse who saw conviction in an evil eye as she is wheeled into an insane asylum.  There she conveys the tale, and for good measure, continues the horror after the original Poe story concludes.

Segment 2: "The Cask." ....of Amontillado, of course. Fortunato (Randy Jones) is enjoy his wedding day. At his vineyard, several guests are helping him celebrate the day as he has wed Gogo (Kelly). Some are suspicious that Gogo may be an opportunistic gold-digger, (they have no idea), but Fortunato is head over heels in love. Unfortunately for our groom, Gogo has a devious and fool proof plan ( if those ever play out well in Poe stories). After a beautiful psychic (Zoe Daelman Chlanda) finds a hidden cask in the wine cellar, in a very spooky scene, and an unexpected parry guest arrives (Brewster McCall), Gogo begins a series of events designed to take over Fortunato's fortune.  Screaming, torture, blood, betrayal, and more horror follows.
Segment 3: "Dreams." This Poe poem is beautifully acted out in a most emotional fashion (...for the viewer, too). Bette Cassatt (V/H/S/ 2) is dying. She is teetering on a fulcrum separating life and death. In life, she enjoyed great happiness, and ultimately extreme sorrow. As the monitors in her room weakly beep with the final signs of her life, she meets the angels of life and death.  Comforting on occasion, the horror many of us attach with death also torments her during her final moments on this mortal coil.  I must warn you, if you have endured sitting by the bedside of a loved one as he or she has passed, this dramatic poem will draw tears from your ducts.
Though those Vincent Price movies of the early 1960s were terrific and fun, "Tales of Poe" presents a more literary treatment of of these three works.  Kudos to Alan Rowe Kelly for producing and starring in this film.  Fans of Edgar Allan Poe will not feel betrayed by this work, and will see the respect and love this crew had for Poe in making this movie.