Lights, Camera, Nevermore!
A Compilation of the Internet's Finest Poe-Esque Fan Films
The works of Edgar Allan Poe have struck many a chord with filmmakers over the years.
There are plenty of professionally made, studio-produced films based on Poe's stories, and they do all right in their own way.
But then there are those of Edgar’s fans on the ground that make their own independent projects, and it's amazing what someone with imagination and talent can create. Some of the fan films out there are more sincerely devoted to Poe and his works than the big budget films.
Sadly, most of these end up forgotten in some electronic slush pile on the internet, and that's a shame. Anyone who can make a stellar film deserves a little recognition.
That being said, I thought it would be nice to shine a light on what I think are the best indie adaptations of Poe’s works.
Based on the iconic poem, this portrayal of The Raven takes creative liberties that work to its advantage. The symbols of the cigarette, the film reel and the hat stand ground the film in a particular time period without deviating too far from the source material, while the editing fantastically portrays the maelstrom of misery and liquor in the narrator's mind. While there are many, many adaptations of this poem out there, footage of "the lost Lenore" and the inclusion of a real life raven make this one stand above all the others.
This is another of Poe's works that's been done to death. The adaptations are innumerable. In the case of this one, the setting is cleverly changed from Italy to New Orleans for the sake of the Carnival. In addition to this, it adheres to the story very well, even going so far as to include such elements as the Masonic trowel and Montresor's coat of arms. Careful writing and earnest acting give this film a unique charm. It won "Best Adaptation" for The Poe Project at the 2013 Sacramento Film and Music Festival, and it's not hard to see why.
This tale of insanity was expertly animated by a team of two. While the attention to detail in the characters is brilliant, it is the stuff in the background that proves the dedication of the creators. Pay close attention to the pictures on the walls and you'll see what I mean. With wonderfully chosen music and expressive animation, this is a passion project of the highest degree.
The Riddle of the Black Cat leans further toward the professional side than other interpretations, but its faithfulness to the original story and its artwork make it the best of the bunch. Set after the events of the story, Detective C. August Dupin confronts the main character in court, interpreting The Black Cat and uncovering new layers of the story that will send the reader/viewer reeling. By marrying two Poe stories with brilliant illustrations, it's clear that the creators knew what they were doing.
This fan put quite a budget into his film. Eerie music and compelling narration set the tone for this three-minute tribute to Poe's famous poem. We are treated to a lonely old man's flashback of his beloved Annabel Lee, her tragic death, and his seaside tribute to her. The locations chosen for shooting were particularly good.
This film tells two stories: The Masque of the Red Death, and that of Poe's constant companionship with death. Beautifully animated by one man, this film intertwines Poe's life with his writing, illustrating to the viewer how this story came to be...and without speaking a single word. Equally grim, beautiful and tragic, this adaptation will stay with its viewers long after they've watched it.
Many adaptations of The Oval Portrait may be found online, but none are animated quite like this. Being a story about a painter and his subject, it's only fitting that it should be told through paintings. Combined with beautiful, atmospheric music and superb narration, this film draws every sweet drop from Poe's story to create something truly magnificent.
Beginning midway through the original story, the simplistic yet vivid animation of this film and the lack of music hold one's attention from beginning to end. MS Found in a Bottle is one of Poe's better-known science fiction stories, and this film wastes no opportunity to remind us. The steampunk technology makes the viewer feel as though they truly are following the protagonist on a journey to another world.
Another favorite among filmmakers, The Pit and the Pendulum tells the fate of an unnamed victim of the Spanish Inquisition. Silently told with smooth stop-motion animation and incredible music, this particular adaptation adheres to the story very well. It's almost agonizing to think of the animators moving all those rats.
This animated film is set to an old CBS Radio Mystery Theatre recording. For this reason, the narrator's observations in the original story are here expressed in the form of dialogue between himself and his wife. What's particularly unique about this retelling is that the underlying themes of Poe's story are brought out into the open air. Literally.
Though short, this animated film captures every detail of the original story. Mesmerism was a subject of widespread fascination in Poe's time, and while he gave it his own morbid twist, this film makes The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar humorous rather than horrific. The exaggerated animation is a joy to watch, and the addition of the black cat was a stroke of genius.
The Fall of the House of Usher is Poe's most totally gothic tale, wherein no symbol is wasted and nothing said has no meaning. From the first frame of this film, and the first word of the narrator's voice, the viewer is drawn in. Haunting in both tone and imagery, even the rough shapes of the clay figures give this film a Poe-esque feel. The only downside is that it leaves out the ending from the original story, though not to the detriment of the film itself.
This is the only Poe adaptation I've found that uses puppets, and it really sells the film. The Murders in the Rue Morgue is the world's first detective story, and while this film is more humorous than psychological, nothing is left out. All the particulars of the case are well told, from the setup of the crime scene to the interviews with the witnesses. The witty dialogue and hilarious visuals conspire to create an entertaining spectacle.
This film was made by someone who was practicing their English skills. Its simplistic format of stick figures on a dry-erase board makes the film quite entertaining, and it summarizes the story of C. August Dupin very well.
Metzengerstein is not one of Poe's more popular tales, but since it's the first story he ever published, more people should definitely give it a read. Gothic in every sense, it tells of a feud between two ancient families, and how it all goes up in smoke. In this short film, the creator expertly tells the events of Poe's narrative, even the supernatural elements. The choice of Legos to tell the story is rather appropriate because, while undoubtedly cheaper than using actors, it also dovetails with scholars' interpretation that Metzengerstein was actually meant to be a parody of the gothic tale.
Told entirely through paper dolls and projections on a white sheet, this adaptation of King Pest is a superb example of visual storytelling. The expert timing and remarkable scene changes keep the viewer on the edge of their seat from beginning to end. It does Poe's tale every justice it deserves.
A lesser-known tale of revenge, Hop-Frog tells of a pair of deformed foreign natives who escape the bondage of a tyrannical king. Told in Serbian, no detail of the story is spared, from Hop-Frog's hunchback, to the grinding of his teeth, to his parting words. The suspenseful imagery and music make Hop-Frog's revenge plot almost horrifying.
This feature-length fan film draws inspiration from the silent films of the 1920's. Totaling 82 minutes and replete with symbolism and intrigue, it builds upon the original story without taking anything away. Rather than hearing the whole story through flashbacks, the viewer follows each character from beginning to end, solving codes and exploring the wilderness of South Carolina in search of the treasure of Captain Kidd. The ending is particularly compelling.
A lot of people put their time and talent into this adaptation of Poe's Morella. A philosophical and gothic story, it plays with the ideas of reincarnation and individual identity. Venturing only slightly from the original story, this film is beautifully shot with great locations and music. The Seattle Film Institute taught them well.
This is a very skillful adaptation of a short story. Narration and introspection on the page become endearing dialogue and chilling imagery on the screen. Appropriately told from within the confines of an asylum, the audience is taken on a journey of obsession, tragedy and gore.
This seldom-told story of Poe's takes us into the mountains of Virginia, where a man has a curious encounter with the distant past. High in the mountains, he stumbles into a skirmish from the Civil War. Shedding a few of the more budget-breaking details, this film does a fair business of adapting Poe's work.
This masterfully made film brings Poe's story into the modern era. Foreboding and surreal, it tells of a man who is constantly haunted by his doppelganger, who thwarts his dreams and ambitions at every turn. With haunting visuals and a bit of Poe's poetry, one is made to question the protagonist's state of mind.