Edgar Allan Poe is one of the creepiest, darkest authors in history, and in some ways, he invented the genre we now know as horror. In spite of his enormous influence, though, there have been fewer Poe adaptations than you might think.
With the arrival of Mike Flannagan’s The Fall of the House of Usher on Netflix, we’re getting one of the splashiest adaptations of a Poe work we’ve ever seen. Even so, this new series isn’t the first time that Poe has been adapted. Here are three of the best movies based on the horror author’s legendary work.
A story about the plague and class warfare that remains one of Poe’s most famous works, The Masque of the Red Death follows a wealthy medieval Italian prince who is living the high life within the walls of his castle, even as the peasants around him are ravaged by the plague.
Needless to say, things don’t end well for our soon-to-be haunted prince. Directed by B-movie legend Roger Corman and starring Vincent Price, The Masque of the Red Death is exactly the kind of eerie spectacle that every great Poe adaptation should be, in spite of its relatively small budget.
Loosely based on the short story The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, Stonehearst Asylum tells the story of a new employee at a mental asylum who falls for a colleague and then realizes that there was recently a pretty disturbing change in staffing at the facility.
Featuring a cast that includes Kate Beckinsale, Ben Kingsley, Jim Sturgess, and David Thewlis, Stonehearst Asylum is a sharp, edgy delight from beginning to end. There’s a reason Poe’s stories of darkness and doom have endured, and Stonehearst Asylum manages to capture all of that darkness as it tells its own twisted tale.
Starring two of the most famous men in the history of horror, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, The Black Cat is one of the most effective Poe adaptations. While you may think the movie is no longer scary because it’s almost 100 years old, that’s far from the truth.
Telling the story of a young couple who get ensnared in a rivalry between an enigmatic doctor and a famed architect, The Black Cat is a potboiler that knows how to keep the audience tense. It’s as strange and dark as the story it’s based on, and manages to feel truly menacing in a way few modern horror movies can manage.
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