Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 25th, 2007
Theatrical Release Dates: Various
Director: George Higham (Annabel Lee), Peter Bradley (The Raven) Alfonso Suarez (The Tell-Tale Heart)
Writer: Edgar Allan Poe
Cast: Louis Morabito, Jenny Guy (The Raven), Paul Naschy, Eladio Sanchez (The Tell-Tale Heart)
DVD released: 2005
Approximate running time: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo
DVD Release: Lurker Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Edgar Allen Poe is one of America’s most known and revered author’s of the macabre. He also worked in a wide variety of other genres like science fiction, mystery and crime fiction. Besides writing fiction he also worked as a playwright and critic and wrote poetry. Even in death the works of Edgar Allen Poe continue to inspire new generations of authors and many of his works have served basis as the source of several motion pictures.
In the 1930’s Universal Studios made three remarkable films based on the works of Poe, Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Black Cat and The Raven. Without a doubt Poe reached an apex cinematically in the 1960’s with Roger Corman’s The Pit and the Pendulum, The Premature Burial, Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Terror, The Raven, The Masque of the Red Death, The Tomb of Ligeia and The Haunted Palace which is more a H.P. Lovecraft story and only a Poe story in name only. These are just a handful of films adaptations of Poe’s writings that I have seen to date and still to this day his stories are being used as sources for plots of short and feature films.
Lurker Films collects for their first volume of Edgar Allen Poe three short films Annabel Lee, The Raven and The Tell-Tale Heart. The first short and the main feature for this release is Annabel Lee which is a stop animation retelling of Poe’s poem of the same name. There is a crudeness too the way to characters move and how everything around them looks, this helps sets the mood of piece which immediately draws you in. The use of a puppet that looks like Poe is also a nice touch that helps personalize the story.
The second short included with this release is The Raven which is essentially one character sitting in a room who hears a knock on the door and next thing he knows a raven is sitting on his fire place mantle. The dialog is pre-recorded and most of the time it doesn’t match with the actor’s voice. The set is primitive and was built entirely out of card board. The best part of this short is when actress who plays the love interest changes her expressions even though she is just a photo on the wall. Despite its flaws this re-telling of The Raven is one of more unique I have seen to date.
The third short included with this release is The Tell-Tale Heart which stars Euro-cult legend Paul Naschy as yet another demented and troubled soul who is prone to violence. This short plays out more like a play since it all takes place in just one room and the ended feels abrupt. It is too bad this one was as short as it was and not fleshed out more since it had the potential to the be the best of the three shorts included in this collection.
Overall The Edgar Allan Poe Collection Volume 1: Annabel Lee contains three distinctively different retellings of three of Poe’s more famous works. All three shorts included are entertaining and creepy with the Annabel Lee short being my favorite of the three.
All three shorts included in this collection are presented in their origin al full frame aspect ratio. Annabel Lee is the only one of the three shot in color and colors look nicely reproduced and vivid. Details are sharp and there is no print damage to speak of. The Raven & the Tell-Tale Heart are both shot in glorious black & white. They both are free of any print damage and shadow detail is strong through out. Overall all three shorts look really good.
All three films come with one audio option a Dolby Digital stereo mix. Annabel Lee & The Raven are both in English while The Tell-Tale Heart is in its original Spanish language and it comes with English subtitles. Overall all three shorts audio mixes are then adequate and there are no audio defects.
Extras for this release include three interview segments. The segment for Annabel Lee is essentially a twenty three minute interview with the short’s director George Higham who discusses his influences including Poe and working with stop motion animation. The segment for The Raven is titled “Forgotten Lore” and it is about eleven minutes in length. This segment includes comments from virtually all the cast & crew who discuss their various experiences while making The Raven. The segment titled “Some Notes on Poe” is a thirteen minute interview with Edgar Allen Poe expert/historian Paul Clemons who gives a brief yet thoroughly crash course in everything Poe. Other extras include two audio commentaries for Annabel Lee one that is more about the technical side of the production and the other is more about the directors’ influences for the short. Rounding out the extras is an eight page booklet with essays about the shorts Annabel Lee & The Raven and two Poe related essays written by Paul Clemons and a brief essay on The Tell-Tale Heart.
Lurker Films have put together a first rate release that comes with insightful extras and three unique shorts which present three tales of Poe like you have never seen them before, recommended.
For more information about The Edgar Allan Poe Collection Volume 1: Annabel Lee visit Lurker Films here.