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Edgar Allen Poe Double Feature (The Tell Tale-Heart / The Oval Portrait) 
Written by: on June 10th, 2011


Theatrical Release Dates: UK, 1960 (The Tell-Tale Heart), Mexico, 1972 (The Oval Portrait)
Directors: Ernest Morris (The Tell-Tale Heart), Rogelio Gonzalez (The Oval Portrait)
Cast: Laurence Payne, Adrienne Corri, Dermot Walsh (The Tell-Tale Heart), Wanda Hendrix, Barry Coe, Gisele MacKenzie, Maray Ayres, Ty Haller (The Oval Portrait)

DVD released: June 21st, 2011
Approximate running time: 80 minutes (The Tell-Tale Heart), 86 minutes (The Oval Portrait)
Aspect Ratio: 1.33.1 Full Frame (Both Films)
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English (Both Films)
Subtitles: N/A
DVD Release: Independent Entertainment / Pop Cinema
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.99


The Tell-Tale Heart: Jealously and murder drive lead to murder and madness.

This film was adapted from what is arguably Edgar Allen Poe’s most famous tale of macabre ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’. And while the core of the plot follows closely to the source material. Its addition of a love triangle is what sets it apart from all other adaptations of ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’.

From a production stand point, when compared to Roger Corman’s Edgar Allen Poe adaptations this film looks improvised (like a made for T.V. movie). And outside of a few interesting moments, this film’s visuals often look drab. Also the plot tends to move along at a snail’s pace and when things do finally get going, it is too little too late.
 
If any, the only area that leaves any lasting impression are the cast. Most notably Laurence Payne in the role of a impish librarian named Edgar Marsh and Adrienne Corri (A Clockwork Orange) as the object of his desire. Twelve years later they would be cast in another film together, Vampire Circus.

The Oval Portrait: A woman is plagued by a generations old Civil War curse that is linked to a oval portrait of one of her descendants.

This film was adapted from one of Edgar Allen Poe’s shortest tales ‘The Oval Portrait’. And while the central theme of this tale remains intact, a person haunted by a portrait. The way in which this is introduced into the story at hand often diverges away from the way in which events unfold in Edgar Allen Poe’s original short story.
 
The narrative alternates between Civil War era flashbacks and modern day. And to this film’s credit these flash backs do a good job explaining who everyone is and what their motivations are. Unfortunately the film’s tends to drag, especially during the middle act. And the film’s anticlimactic finale is symbolic of everything that had preceded it. Also the performances from the entire cast are mediocre and at times excruciating.

The DVD:

Both films are presented in a 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio and both films have also been sourced from film elements. Unfortunately neither of these film sources that have been used are in that good of shape and there has been absolutely not restoration done to them. Print damage varies in degree throughout on both films.

The first feature, ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ which was shot in black and white, black levels are average at best and contrast levels are inconsistent. The second feature ‘The Oval Portrait’ was shot in color, flesh tones look off, black levels generally look weak and colors look muted throughout.

Each film comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. Both audio mixes feature some very mild instances of distortion and background noise while present it is never too intrusive. Despite these flaws dialog comes through clearly enough and everything sounds balanced.

The only extra included with this release is a collectable booklet, which contains liner notes about each that were written by author / film critic Tim Lucas. Overall two lesser known Edgar Allen Poe adaptations get their strongest home video releases to date.

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