Growing up in Detroit Michigan in the ‘70s was a memorable time, especially during Halloween, and I mainly attribute that to director Roger Corman. It was Corman’s adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic work that inspired me to read and delve deeper into the genius of Poe… sorry, no credit goes to any teachers in my school. After school I would watch the ABC 4:30 movie which had these magnificent themes like “Vincent Price/Edgar Allan Poe Week.” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Premature Burial” and “Masque of the Red Death,” were all films I remember watching, and I have frequently revisited them over the years longing for that cinematic and literary nostalgia. To this day, I still don’t think any director has captured Poe’s work to the memorable and successful extent that Roger Corman did in the 1960s. Is it that we don’t have any theatrical actors as larger-than-life as Vincent Price? Or is it that we don’t have any brilliant writers like Richard Matheson or Robert Towne (Tomb of Legia is an excellent script and adaptation) to adapt and grasp the essence of Poe’s literary works? The sets and custumes in these luxuriant films still amaze me considering Corman’s limited low budget. It is true that some of these films can be overly dramatic or slow by today’s standards, but I dread the day when Edgar Allan Poe is maladapted and overly CGI’ed. Corman’s work and legacy with the AIP (American International Pictures) Poe adaptations remain classic nearly 60 years later.
Most of these films are out-of-print now, however if you can get your hands on The MGM Midnite Movies DVDs, which was the studio’s B Movie collection is primarily derived from the AIP library, also feature audio commentary by Roger Corman which is a real treat, or if you’re more interested in a trick you can play them with French language which makes these films seem even more classic.