'Edgar Allan Poe: Heart-quaking Double Feature'
(Lawrence Payne, William Bates, Karin Field, Fawn Silver, et al / DVD / NR / 2020 / MVD Visual)
Overview: This is a rather special, and rare treat for all Edgar Allan Poe fans, a Double Feature containing two (2) versions of one of his most macabre stories, 'The Tell-Tale Heart'!
DVD Verdict: In 'The Tell-Tale Heart', when Edgar sees his girlfriend Betty getting up close and personal with his best friend Carl, he murders Carl in a jealous rage and hides the corpse under the floor of his piano room. Comes the night, and Edgar begins to hear strange sounds coming from under the floor!
The movie starts out with a prologue involving a cocaine-sniffing Poe (also played by suitably austere lead, Lawrence Payne) having the story come to him in a nightmare.
The anti-hero of the main narrative itself, then, is also called Edgar and he lives in the Rue Morgue. An introvert, he falls for sensuous neighbor Adrienne Corri, however, when he introduces her to his best friend, they start an affair behind his back.
Of course, once he discovers this his jealousy turns homicidal. The plot (as reworked by Brian Clemens of The Avengers fame) has therefore been fleshed out, but also rendered somewhat ordinary, for my money.
That said, the stylized approach successfully evokes the authors psychological landscape – most memorably, the "pulsating" carpet above the floorboards where the body is hidden sequence.
In 'Legend of Horror', based on the very same EAP story, two men escape from prison and one starts a murder spree! Mixing Argentinian and US footage, I was expecting something in the Jerry Warren vein.
However, the Argentinian scenes are dubbed and presented whole, and the US scenes are far more than just framing devices. In fact, I'd say the majority of the film is US-shot.
The Argentinian footage is, of course, taken from an adaptation of Poe's 'Tell-Tale Heart,' which is then used as a dream sequence and a haunted memory of an old man serving time in a prison in the US footage.
The US footage is very low budget using only a few actors and a few small sets, and some limited location work, but it is effective in creating a mysterious atmosphere.
As for the film itself, I personally liked the performances from the two actors and thought it was entertaining in its own way. The wrap-around story is also mildly interesting and especially since there are some stop-motion death scenes.
These scenes look quite fake, but at the same time they pretty much come out of nowhere and thus they are effective for what they are. These are both Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.