Annabel Lee Narrated by Jim Knipfel and Directed by George Higham
The Raven Narrated by Michael Sayers, Starring Louis Morabito and Jenny Guy, and Directed by Peter Bradley
The Tell-Tale Heart Starring Paul Naschy and Directed by Alfonso S. Suarez
Released by Lurker Films
With the state of horror films such as it is these days (i.e., very few hits mixed in with way too many misses), it was with a great deal of anticipation that I popped Volume 1 of The Edgar Allan Poe Collection into my DVD player. Poe has long been a favorite of mine, so I was quite anxious to see what some of today’s filmmakers had come up with in relation to telling the stories of Annabel Lee, The Tell-Tale Heart, and The Raven. I’m happy to report that I was not disappointed in the least.
The Tell-Tale Heart (which stars genre favorite Paul Naschy) and The Raven are listed under the “Short Films” selection on the DVD menu, and both are quite good. Raven is the more traditional of the two; it consists of a narrator reading the poem in the background while a man is visited in his home by the raven of the tale, all the while obviously haunted by his lost love Lenore. Heart follows a somewhat different tack. It shows a reunion of two brothers, one of whom is quite happy to see his sibling – until he receives a disturbing phone call. Poe fans need not worry at the divergence from the master’s original tale; rest assured the beating heart remains in all its glory.
While I did enjoy these two live action shorts, the true star of the collection is George Higham’s Annabel Lee. Filmed with puppets using stop-motion animation and narrated by Jim Knipfel, Annabel Lee is a joy to behold. Two and a half years in the making, it is visually stunning and effectively creepy. Words alone cannot describe the feeling one gets from watching Higham’s handiwork, so I urge everyone reading this review to check it out for themselves. It is truly a testament to the respect and love Higham had for both his source material and the medium he selected to bring it to life. While the poem itself is relatively short, the feature runs approximately 20 minutes, and there is never a dull moment. With its rats, skeletons, and other demonic images – along with a main character based on Poe himself, Annabel Lee is a veritable smorgasbord of delights for horror fans. I anxiously await word of the next project helmed by Mr. Higham.
And that’s just the beginning of what this DVD has in store for its viewers. There are numerous featurettes including interviews with both George Higham and Poe expert Paul Day Clemens, two different commentaries for Annabel Lee, a biography of Poe, and a making-of for The Raven. The DVD packaging even includes an eight-page booklet with more information about all three films.
Lurker Films has done an outstanding job of providing Poe devotees with an abundance of information about the man they hold in such high regard, and I am quite hopeful that, much as they have with their Lovecraft collections, we will soon see Volumes 2 and beyond filled with more of Poe’s works.
George Higham Interview
Forgotten Lore (Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven)
Paul Clemens Interview
Annabel Lee: Two Commentaries (technical and aesthetic) and Slideshow
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