Tales of Terror (1962)

And with that I do believe I’ve finally completed Roger Corman’s Poe series at last (taken me enough years, eh). Funny, too, that I am an avowed wuss when it comes to films about spiders on my Drive-In Delirium list and I’m all OMG I’M NEVER WATCHING THAT GIANT SPIDER MOVIE KILL IT WITH FLAME WHERE IS MY GOD NOW etc, but I don’t stop to think about the other films on the list that might have spider scenes. This had two (although knowing Corman it was probably the same monstrosity in both scenes; I don’t want to look too closely to confirm, of course) and, needless to say, I was… displeased. But enough of my phobias. The film is a portmanteau of three (well, four really) stories, a form which was perhaps intended to acknowledge that, yes, Poe’s stories are for the most part quite short and adapting them to feature film length entails… distortions. Except that these shorter tales aren’t exactly more faithful to their source material as a result; indeed, “The Black Cat” (the middle tale) is actually more a confluence of that story and “The Cask of Amontillado”. So textual fidelity isn’t the point, though it never really was in these films. They’re an interesting trio, all of which are probably equally good (the concluding version of “Valdemar” narrowly beats the other two, “Morella” being the opener), though on the whole Tales isn’t really anywhere near the best of the Poe series. Arguably it’s probably more notable for indicating the direction he’d take next with The Raven, i.e. teaming Vincent Price with other big names (in this case Peter Lorre and Basil Rathbone, although not in the same story) and playing for comedy rather than straight horror. But it’s still pretty fair viewing, and it continues to uphold Corman’s tradition in these films of nicer production values than you’d think that sort of budget would manage…

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