Edgar Allan Poe Film Adaptations: The Top 5

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Edgar Allan Poe, international man of mystery, the macabre, and poetry, died today, 166 years ago. If Edgar Allan Poe, and all writers, crave immortality, Poe is certainly one of not so many that have succeeded in being immortalized. Whether it be in this month of October and in the fall in general, where many festivals and events are held, or in TV and film adaptations, Edgar Allan Poe has a presence or stake in all of them. Though Edgar Allan Poe certainly riveted the silver screen decades ago, some of his work is still being adapted, to varying levels of… quality.

Alas, to compose a list of the top 5 is both easy and difficult, depending on your criteria. Edgar Allan Poe’s work has had much liberty taken with it, but the five below certainly represent times in which it was least befouled, and most satisficing.


The Black Cat (1997)

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the black cat short film

Director: Rob Green

Screenplay: Rob Green, Clive Perrot

Story: Edgar Allan Poe

The Black Cat has been one of Poe’s most adapted short stories, but sadly far too often, it has been butchered beyond recognition. The second best adaptation star Peter Lorre and Vincent Price, but it is an amalgamation of this story and The Cask of Amontillado. That being said, and though is completely unknown, it is the best Edgar Allan Poe adaptation to date. You can easily find it on YouTube.


House of Usher (1960)

House of Usher (1960)

Director: Roger Corman

Screenplay: Richard Matheson

Story: Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe’s story of premature burials, madness, and a family curse plays out the best and truest in this Corman/Price/Poe classic. However, it sadly fails to adequately portray Roderick Usher’s motivations, and adds a romantic subplot. The only other adaptation that has come as close to the original Edgar Allan Poe story is a lesser known British version that came out in 1948/1949.


The Facts in The Case of M. Valdemar


Director: Roger Corman

Screenplay: Richard Matheson

Story: Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe’s tale of mesmerism, or rather one of his tales of mesmerism, it fairly, accurately depicted in this short segment in Roger Corman’s Tales of Terror. Sadly, like most E.A. Poe film adaptations, it had some added elements. A romantic subplot, and some variations in the nature of M. Valdemar, but it is another that stands as one of the closest adaptations. Vincent Price, as always, does not disappoint. Nor does Basil Rathbone, veteran horror and Sherlock Holmes actor. Though the ending is also modified, it certainly give a chilling, apropos ending that utilizes  fairly decent effects for its time.


Masque of the Death


Director: Roger Corman

Screenplay: Richard Matheson

Story: Edgar Allan Poe

Another terrific, mostly accurate take on an Edgar Allan Poe classic, brought to you by Roger Corman and Vincent Price. Though there were added elements and visuals, it stays with the core Poe story, which is what makes it such a good film all around. The ending is by far one of the most impressive and shocking of all the E.A. Poe adaptations produced.


An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe


Director: Ken Jones

Screenplay: David Welch

Story: Edgar Allan Poe

An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe  marks one of the few times in history that a made for TV film impresses, and manages to be one of the most accurate portrayals of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Sphinx, The Tell-Tale Heart, Pit and The Pendulum, The Cask of Amontillado, and The Pit and the Pendulum. The Poe stories were played out by Vincent Price in a one man act play style performance with each segment being a different story, a different set, and Price wearing a different costume. All in all, one of the most accurate adaptations ever on TV or in film.

Many adaptations exist, and some are halfway decent or good, but this happens to be the top 5. Did your favorite make the list?

Leave your thoughts below.

[Images Courtesy of American International Pictures/Black Cat Films/ Ken Johnson Productions]

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David Joseph
Dave Joseph is your average underpaid 31 year old in Modern America. He went to school for electronics/computers. He went from Blogger, to Co-founder/Editor-In-Chief of an independent paper, then to writer, and soon to be author. Now, all trench coat and arrogance, he lends his Pop Culture knowledge of film, TV, and music, mixed occasionally with a politics chaser, to his scribbling for Monkeys Fighting Robots, amongst other locales. He likes long walks on the beach, trips to Philly, Horror anything, most music, tech, art, and ... et cetera. Stalk/follow him on Twitter @REALDaveJoseph.


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