Filmmakers have adapted, parodied and paid homage to Edgar Allan Poe’s works countless times, none more so than the notoriously prolific master of schlock, Roger Corman. Corman adapted no fewer than eight of Poe’s stories into films, the 1960 adaptation of The Fall of the House of Usher being the first of his Poe Cycle. The story itself has been adapted into film numerous times: 1928 saw two versions of the story, an American short taking its cue from German expressionist masterpiece The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and a French feature from Jean Epstein. There is also a 1950 British version of the story, a modernised version from 2006, and a surprisingly good 2012 animated short film, aptly narrated by Christopher Lee. There are several other versions, but Corman’s version has endured the most.
House of Usher is perhaps Corman’s most interesting adaptation in that, departing quite drastically from Poe’s narrative, it still captures the excess of Poe’s gothic aesthetic. Retaining the histrionics of Poe’s story, Corman’s House of Usher represents Poe’s imaginative hyper-reality with vivid, saturated colour, a wildly over the top central performance from Vincent Price, and a pulpy, kitsch sensibility.
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