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Tag Archive: Edgar Allan Poe


Walken Poe The Raven

The Witching Hour of All Hallow’s Eve has just passed.  It is time to pick your poison, so to speak.

It is time to listen to the many readings by celebrities of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem, “The Raven.”  The poem actually takes place in December, so there’s no wrong time to listen to the poem again and again.  Thanks to a new audio version uploaded this weekend by Sean Astin, we were prompted to search for other famous voices, and we found many interesting celebrities to choose from, many from long ago.  Oddly, we found no famous actresses voicing the creepy story–if you know of any please add them to the comments above.

So which do you want to hear first?  Why not give an ear to all?  As you listen try thinking of the actor, or of that actor’s many roles, from Samwise Gamgee to Gomez Addams, from Saruman to Dracula or Sherlock Holmes, the Headless Horseman or Johnny Smith, Max Schreck or Lucius Fox, and from Darth Vader to Captain Kirk or the alien known simply as Q…

The Raven

Have a listen to one or all.  Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

 

Sean Astin

 

John Astin

 

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Beyond Rue Morgue

In Dickens’ classic A Christmas Story, the story begins with the line “Marley was dead, to begin with…” and thus commences a superb and long-retold tale of ghosts and redemption.  “To begin with,” Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue has one of the most contrived and difficult to accept endings in all of classic storytelling.  Editors Paul Kane and Charles Prepolec have assembled a group of writers to expand on Poe’s story and their collection was published this summer as Beyond Rue Morgue: Further Tales of Edgar Allan Poe’s 1st Detective.

The difficulty in Poe’s Murders is highlighted by the contrast between the confounding ending and the fact that Poe’s detective is so exceptionally brilliant for most of the work and Poe’s writing so authoritative.  Included as the first entry in Kane and Prepolec’s new anthology is Poe’s original story, allowing new readers to be impressed with–and older readers to revisit–those gruesome (fictional) murders that took place in a Paris flat in the 1840s.  The flat appeared locked from the inside, the murders required inhuman strength, and the crime leaves no possible solution; leaving the reader to hang on every word to learn how this pre-Sherlock Holmes genius-detective named Chevalier C. Auguste Dupin will unravel the mystery and catch the murderer.  And then the murderer turns out to be… an escaped, deranged… orangutan.  Thud.

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Following cast

Last Monday, January 21, 2013, The Following premiered on the Fox network. It’s a dark, bloody crime drama from Kevin Williamson, creator of the Scream franchise, Dawson’s Creek and The Vampire Diaries.  It’s the Scream franchise that might come to mind if you check out the premiere on Free Per View before tonight’s episode “Chapter Two” airs.  Expect some horror movie jumps and startling revelations as well as a little more than you might see as far as crime scenes from other series (although not a lot more than what you might have found on something like TV’s Medium when it still was on the air).

The big draw for The Following is the series star, Kevin Bacon.  You might also have checked out the pilot if you were a fan of Maggie Grace, star of the Taken film series, The Fog remake, and Lost, the TV series.  If you’ve missed the original Law and Order, you might be happy to see the return of Annie Parisse in an ongoing role beginning with tonight’s episode.  And if that weren’t enough, you might think you’re watching Warehouse 13, Veronica Mars, Smallville, Lost Girl and In Plain Sight’s Aaron Ashmore as Agent Michael Weston–but you’d be wrong.  Turns out Aaron has a clone, twin brother Shawn Ashmore.  (And hey, don’t TV writers watch TV?  That’s at least the third Michael Weston on TV right now).

Spoilers ahead.

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It may be the year of dark and chilly genre flicks.  The Woman in Black, reviewed here, had some of the best atmosphere of any film in recent memory.  Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, previewed here and coming this June, also features a dark and spooky vibe.  If there is something enticing about the forthcoming The Raven from the new trailer, it is mood.  The filmmakers appear to have nailed the “once upon a midnight dreary.”  Check out this new trailer–the film’s UK preview, just released:

This is a great lesson in what a good editor with some marketing sense can do when he/she knows how to do the job right.  Compare the UK version above with the U.S. version of the trailer:

The UK trailer is pretty ho-hum.  Yet the U.S. trailer makes this one look pretty exciting.  Why would you bother releasing the UK trailer when the U.S. trailer is so well done?

Like Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, The Raven takes a real-life character and places him in a new, fictionalized, alternate history adventure.  The challenge will be that not only does the viewer need to suspend disbelief to participate in this cinematic work of fiction, the viewer is forced to put aside his or her assumptions about the historical figure.  The harder task may be for the filmmakers addressing a wild rail and vampire splittin’ Abraham Lincoln.  But Edgar Allan Poe as a bit Sherlock Holmes and a bit less-than-willing-participant Ichabod Crane?  That doesn’t seem too far-fetched for the avid fantasy viewer.

The casting of John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe is interesting.  Poe is always shown to be far less outgoing than Cusack’s typical character.  To his credit Cusack is often grouped with some of the finest “serious” dramatic actors.  Just look at his performances in Eight Men Out, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and Bullets Over Broadway.  John Cusack is in a rare league of people we like and want to see more of, like Matthew Broderick, and from the same era.  But like Broderick, his choice of film projects is often a letdown (The Road to Wellville, Con Air, 2012), even if his performances are well done.  Cusack was great fun in Say Anything, The Grifters, Grosse Point Blank, High Fidelity, Serendipity, Igor and even Hot Tub Time Machine.  But where his movies seem to disappoint are his ventures into horror, such as Identity and 1408.  Can Cusack give us a good horror thriller with The Raven?

A major marketing plus is the reference that this is directed by James McTeague, who also directed the brilliant V for Vendetta. (although he also worked on Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, the Matrix films and Speed Racer).

The trailer feels a bit like From Hell, Sleepy Hollow, and Sweeney Todd, all based on historic stories.  Makes you wonder why Johnny Depp isn’t in this one, doesn’t it?  One concern is the rating notation, which I usually ignore, but Rated R for “bloody violence and grisly images” and some of the images in the trailers probably says all we need to know, and would certainly group The Raven with those three grisly concept films.

The Raven hits theaters on April 27.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com