Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe Series Ranked

Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe Series Ranked

A worst-to-best ranking of B-Movie legend Roger Corman's Poe-inspired horror movie series.

Between 1960 and 1964, legendary B-Movie producer Roger Corman directed a series of eight films based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Compared to the rest of Corman's output (an additional 11 films) during this period, his Poe films are heavily stylized. The costumes and sets are flashy and artificial, embracing the overwrought excess of their literary inspirations. The low-budget approach to Gothic horror is quite effective, capturing the paradoxical broody stoicism and overflowing emotion that characterizes the genre. This past month I watched all eight films and have compiled a ranking of the series from worst to best. I would not recommend binging all eight films back-to-back like I did, but there is certainly a lot of fun to be had with this series.

8. "Tales of Terror" (1962)

Anthology films rarely work due to inconsistency between segments, and "Tales of Terror" is no exception. The first segment, "Morella", is too short to properly build up suspense. The second, "The Black Cat", tries to incorporate comedy into its story. This mostly amounts to Vincent Price making goofy faces and Peter Lorre embarrassing himself as a stock drunkard character. The third and final segment, "The Case of M. Valdemar", is the only interesting one of the bunch, but like "Morella", it does not get enough time to fully develop into something interesting. If you are going to skip watching a Corman Poe film, this is the one to avoid.

7. "The Masque of the Red Death" (1964)

The main conceit of "The Masque of the Red Death" is that the villainous Prince Prospero is creating a descent into hell within the walls of his castle while the countryside is ravaged by plague. The rich and powerful are supposedly safe in the castle, but Prospero's madness and decadence lead to everyone's destruction. This idea works well in the original short story, but stretched out to feature length, the idea becomes repetitive. By the end, Vincent Price may as well be directly asking the audience "Get it? Get it? Ironic, huh?".

6. "The Premature Burial" (1962)

This is the only film of the series not to feature Vincent Price, instead substituting veteran actor Ray Milland in the lead role. Milland is no replacement for Price, but the story succeeds despite his unremarkable performance. Guy Carrell (Milland) is terrified of being buried alive, and someone is trying to drive him mad through this fear. There is a degree of mean-spiritedness to the proceedings that is not present in the other Poe films that elevates its above the weaker entries in the series. Not the best, but certainly an interesting adaptation.

5. "The Raven" (1963)

Corman goes for comedy in this loose adaptation of the famous Poe poem. The results are incredibly corny, like a knockoff version of those live-action comedy films Disney was producing at the time. Much like those cheesy Disney movies, "The Raven" is fun if you are in the right mood. Vincent Price and Boris Karloff play off each other well, and their climactic wizard duel is a fun bit of bad special effects and hammy overacting. This is by far the goofiest film in the series, but the movie at least recognizes that and runs with it.

4. "The Tomb of Ligeia" (1964)

A strange but fitting note on which to end the series. The story, quite puzzlingly, leans more towards the romantic side of Gothic fiction rather than horror. The atmosphere is certainly spooky, but it does not embrace the usual horror elements as strongly as the rest of the series. Unlike the preceding seven films, "The Tomb of Ligeia" features scenes shot on location in authentic castle ruins, rather than just using a soundstage. This is by far the most cinematic looking film in the series, eschewing stagey, static framing for a more mobile camera that roams through the high-quality sets. An odd outlier in the series for sure, but it sure looks great.

3. "The Pit and the Pendulum" (1961)

Definitely one of the better Vincent Price performances in the series. His slow descent into madness over the course of the film is tragic and compelling. When Price finally goes off the deep end, he gets the chance cut loose and chew scenery as only he can do. The film is great at slowly building suspense over time, but the climactic encounter with the titular torture devices leaves something to be desired. There is never an adequate sense of danger, which kills the otherwise suspenseful editing in the film's final scenes. The rest of the movie is great, it just fumbles with the last ten minutes or so.

2. "The Haunted Palace" (1963)

Technically an H.P. Lovecraft adaptation (the Poe title was added at the insistence of the film's distributor), and a solid one at that. The moldering castle and foggy village sets bring Lovecraft's writing to life as much as Poe's. "The Haunted Palace" also features the creepiest visuals of the series, with grotesque mutant villagers and ghoulishly gray evil housekeepers. The story is much darker than the other films in the series as well, with elements of possession, eldritch monsters, and even the Necronomicon popping up at various points. As far as early 1960s horror films go, this is as close as it gets to being actually unsettling.

1. "House of Usher" (1960)

The first film in the series is also the best film in the series, most effectively capturing that intersection of low-budget filmmaking and Gothic excess. Vincent Price (looking strangely like Lawrence of Arabia) gives his best performance of the series, going for a chilling understated delivery as Roderick Usher. The movie is a slow burn, allowing for plenty of brooding from the lead actors. When the film is not reveling in emotional turmoil, there are some genuinely creepy moments, including a psychedelic nightmare sequence and a genuinely unsettling finale. If you only watch one of the Corman Poe films, this should be the one.

Cover Image Credit: Skitterphoto

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11 Things Psychology Majors Hear That Drive Them Crazy

No pun intended.

We've all been there. You're talking to a new acquaintance, or a friend of your parents, or whoever. And then, you get the dreaded question.

"So what are you studying in school?"

Cue the instant regret of picking Psychology as your major, solely for the fact that you are 99.9% likely to receive one of the slightly comical, slightly cliche, slightly annoying phrases listed below. Don't worry though, I've included some responses for you to use next time this comes up in conversation. Because it will.

Quick side note, these are all real-life remarks that I've gotten when I told people I was a psych major.

Here we go.

1. So are you, like, analyzing me right now?

Well, I wasn't. But yeah. Now I am.

2. Ugh so jealous! You picked the easy major.

"Lol" is all I have to say to this one. I'm gonna go write my 15-page paper on cognitive impairment. You have fun with your five college algebra problems, though!

3. So can you tell me what you think is wrong with me? *Shares entire life story*

Don't get me wrong; I love listening and helping people get through hard times. But we can save the story about how one time that one friend said that one slightly rude comment to you for later.

4. Well, s**t, I have to be careful what I say around you.

Relax, pal. I couldn't diagnose and/or institutionalize you even if I wanted to.

5. OMG! I have the perfect first client for you! *Proceeds to vent about ex-boyfriend or girlfriend*

Possible good response: simply nod your head the entire time, while actually secretly thinking about the Ben and Jerry's carton you're going to go home and demolish after this conversation ends.

6. So you must kind of be like, secretly insane or something to be into Psychology.

Option one: try and hide that you're offended. Option two: just go with it, throw a full-blown tantrum, and scare off this individual, thereby ending this painful conversation.

7. Oh. So you want to be a shrink?

First off, please. Stop. Calling. Therapists. Shrinks. Second, that's not a psych major's one and only job option.

8. You know you have to go to grad school if you ever want a job in Psychology.

Not completely true, for the record. But I am fully aware that I may have to spend up to seven more years of my life in school. Thanks for the friendly reminder.

9. So you... want to work with like... psychopaths?

Let's get serious and completely not-sarcastic for a second. First off, I take personal offense to this one. Having a mental illness does not classify you as a psycho, or not normal, or not deserving of being treated just like anyone else on the planet. Please stop using a handful of umbrella terms to label millions of wonderful individuals. It's not cool and not appreciated.

10. So can you, like, read my mind?

It actually might be fun to say yes to this one. Try it out and see what happens. Get back to me.

11. You must be a really emotional person to want to work in Psychology.

Psychology is more than about feeling happy, or sad, or angry. Psychology is about understanding the most complex thing to ever happen to us: our brain. How it works the way it does, why it works the way it does, and how we can better understand and communicate with this incredibly mysterious, incredibly vast organ in our tiny little skull. That's what psychology is.

So keep your head up, psychology majors, and don't let anyone discourage you about choosing, what is in my opinion, the coolest career field out there. The world needs more people like us.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Short Stories On Odyssey: Roses

What's worth more than red roses?


Five years old and a bouquet of roses rested in her hands. The audience-- clapped away her performance, giving her a standing ovation. She's smiling then because everything made sense, her happiness as bright as the roses she held in her hands.

Fifteen now, and a pile of papers rested on her desk. The teachers all smiled when she walked down the aisle and gave them her presentation. She was content then but oh so stressed, but her parents happy she had an A as a grade, not red on her chest.

Eighteen now and a trail of tears followed her to the door. Partying, and doing some wild things, she just didn't know who she was. She's crying now, doesn't know anymore, slamming her fists into walls, pricking her fingers on roses' thorns.

Twenty-one and a bundle of bills were grasped in her hands. All the men-- clapped and roared as she sold her soul, to the pole, for a dance. She's frowning now because everything went wrong, but she has to stay strong, for rich green money, is worth more than red roses.

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