I’ve been having a great time watching connected films and a variety of horror books this season, but it’s very possible that re-visiting the Batman run by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones has been one of my favorite experiences so far. As I mentioned in the first part, these post-KnightFall books were bedrock-forming for my knowledge of not just the Dark Knight, but also the imagery of horror as put through Jones’ incredibly capable lens. As good as the Batman developments are in these issues as he regains his life after the Bane and Azrael incidents, it’s equally exciting to see these two creators work their magic on a variety of villains and co-stars.
When I started digging into Vincent Price’s films for It’s All Connected, I wondered if I’d get burned out. I mean, I fully expected to watch more Brian De Palma flicks earlier in this process, but they were all hitting a lot of the same buttons. With Price’s movies, though, I’m having a great time watching one of the best actors of all time plying his craft in a variety of roles ranging from the very serious to the delightfully silly! And with 1962’s Tales Of Terror, you get all of that in one package!enter, if you dare…
Like I said last time, I’m going to keep it relatively simple with It’s All Connected for a bit and just mainline Vincent Price movies. Some will be from the re-issued Vincent Price Collection Blu-ray set from Scream Factory while others will be find their way to me from darker corners of my collection and various streaming services. Today, though, there are several connections as, like Usher, Pit And The Pendulum is another Roger Corman-directed, Richard Matheson-adapted, Vincent Price-starring, Les Baxter-scored American International Pictures-produced Edgar Allan Poe flick starring Price!
In a delightful bit of It’s All Connected kismet, I got my copy of the Scream Factory re-issue of the original Vincent Price Collection on Blu-ray right after finishing the second Phibes movie! I missed the original version of this set when it came out a few years back and always regretted it. I would go on to get the second and third installments, but this one always stuck in my craw. Then, just a few months ago, I saw that they were re-releasing it with a few changes. I was ecstatic, but still managed to get the best deal I could find over on DeepDiscount.com.
Thanks to an email from one of my editors, I realized it was New Year’s Eve! Funny how that works out. These might be coming out a bit later than the norm, but I figured I would jump in on the whole “End of the Year” list thingy. First up, I’m going to cover my favorite horror viewing experiences of films that came out several years back!
I don’t remember hearing many good things about The Raven. I also don’t remember hearing any particularly negative things, but that’s not really a great sign either, is it? But, being a big fan of Edgar Allen Poe’s in high school and loving John Cusack from movies like High Fidelity and Grosse Pointe Blank so when I saw The Raven pop up on Netflix Instant, I figured I’d give it a watch anyway. And, you know what? I liked it!
Now, it’s important to frame this movie in a particular way to really enjoy it. First, this is not a biopic. The less you know about Poe the better. I knew very little, so that worked out for me. I also liked thinking of Cuasack as doing a bit of a Nic Cage impression while doing his scenes because he’s got an over-the-top quality that might encapsulate Poe pretty well, I’m not really sure.
So, here’s the plot. Edgar Allen Poe is asked by the Baltimore police to help them solve a rash of murders that take some of their cues from Poe’s stories. He’s towards the end of his career and having some real writers block, so he’s kind of a washed up has-been at this point, but after convincing the cops he’s not the killer himself, he gets involved in trying to not only find the killer but also his girlfriend played by Alice Eve who the killer kidnapped.
I’ve got to say, I was a little surprised at how gruesome some of the kills were, especially the one based around The Pit And The Pendulum. I guess I don’t expect that much from big-ish budget Hollywood movies like that, but it was kind of cool to see. The movie isn’t exactly soaked in blood, but it’s there. More so, it depends on the psychological thrills and craziness, especially in the films final moments which were pretty intense.
At it’s heart, The Raven is a fairly simple whodunit mixed with cat-and-mouse but framed in a fairly interesting locale and wrapped in the familiar tropes of Poe. I think if you’re a fan of those kinds of films and you go into this movie with a fairly open mind — or at least few preconceptions — you’ll have a good time with this one.