Five of Edgar Allan Poe’s best poems are transformed into artistic perfection in this beautifully designed movie. With a central connective story involving a conversation between a feminine voice and a Raven in a cemetery, it is insinuated that the voice is that of one of the statues. As she continues to go on from story to story she urges the Raven to embrace it’s hidden obsession with death and it is clear that the Raven is speaking to the Grim Reaper herself.
The first story is “The Fall Of The House Of Usher”, narrated by the legendary Christopher Lee with his Dracula-esque deep voice. Lee brings a Vincent Price quality to the living picture of Poe’s story about a man who makes a house call to a long lost boy hood friend and the enigmatic malady plaguing his sister.
Following is “The Tell-Tale Heart” narrated by Bela Lugosi which can only be from pre-recorded narration. To hear the voice of the original Dracula portraying the frightening tale of a man racked with guilt is a nicely constructed sequence of a horror master reading a horror masterpiece. Animation is in black and white with inspiration from Alberto Breccia an Argentine Cartoonist known for mixing collage, acrylic and watercolor giving a wonderful feel for the thriller/horror mix that the story weaves.
Guillermo del Toro narrates the “The Pit And The Pendulum” with his latin accent del Torro expertly plays the part of a prisoner and the gruesome details behind his torturous captivity during the Spanish Inquisition.
“The Mask Of The Red Death” is not narrated and draws directly from the power of image benefiting from sound effects, art direction and music to drive the fear into the heart of the tale. The story follows a Prince hiding from a dangerous plague throws a masquerade ball with fellow nobles, he finds that even in his high walls of affluence he is not safe from the inevitable figure of Death coming down the hall.
These Five stories are inspiring to watch, the picturesque quality is what attracts the viewer’s eye to the screen but the seductive narrations combined with excellent scores captivates and holds the audience.
This is a must not only for Poe fans but horror fans alike, the quality of animation and combination of sound is comparative to that of the Animatrix and just as spectacularly designed. Make sure to watch this one at night during a thunderstorm and a glass of red wine, just don’t let the thudding under your floor boards drive you insane- 5 Claws