Sharing the portmanteau format that would later characterize the more prestigious but less successful “Histoires extraordinaires“, Roger Corman’s “Tales of Terror”- his fourth of what would become his eight film Edgar Allan Poe cycle -announces the depiction of three Poe short stories- Morella, The Black Cat and The Facts in the Case of V. Valdemar -but also injects unmistakeable elements from The Cask of Amontillado. The lack of strict fidelity to the content of the individual stories is common in the Corman/Poe canon, and the second segment of the film, depicting The Black Cat creatively uses the story elements in a surprisingly successful tonal shift to comedy that would predate the subsequent effort in the cycle, “The Raven”, while developing comic elements that would be expanded in the later non-Poe film, Jacques Tourneur underrated black comedy “The Comedy of Terrors”. As is common with the anthology format, there is bound to be a wide variance of results, and this film is no exception. The film is notable for a greater fidelity to the substance of Poe’s stories as true adaptations rather than as the more accurate description of films “suggested” by his stories as could legitimately ascribed to the majority of the Corman series, with the exception of “House of Usher” and the unusual case of “The Haunted Palace”, which except for the title lifted from a poem later interpolated into the story The Fall of the House of Usher, takes its narrative source, not from Poe at all, but from Lovecraft and his The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.
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