New Film Extraordinary Tales Animates Edgar Poe Stories, with Narrations by Guillermo Del Toro, Christopher Lee & More

Edgar Allan Poe cre­at­ed a body of work that will seem­ing­ly nev­er go out of style, espe­cial­ly around Hal­loween time. Not only do his sto­ries and poems still inspire dread in the 21st cen­tu­ry, but so also do the many hun­dreds of Poe retellings and adap­ta­tions cre­at­ed in the 166 years since the author’s mys­te­ri­ous death. But, we might ask, after so many film adap­ta­tions from so many clas­sic hor­ror actors and direc­tors, whether we need yet anoth­er one? You’ll have to make up your own mind, but if you’re any­thing like me, you’ll watch the trail­er above for Lion King and Aladdin ani­ma­tor Raul Garcia’s Poe anthol­o­gy Extra­or­di­nary Tales and answer “Yes!” and “More please!” And you can see more, in the clips below from Garcia’s incred­i­ble-look­ing film, hit­ting the­aters on Octo­ber 23rd.

One rea­son the new treat­ment of the five sto­ries Gar­cia ani­mates seems to work so well is that they draw on the tal­ents of actors and direc­tors who have pre­vi­ous­ly deliv­ered clas­sic Poe retellings. For exam­ple, “The Fall of the House of Ush­er,” above, is nar­rat­ed by the late, great Christo­pher Lee, who joins hor­ror leg­end Vin­cent Price as one of the great­est read­ers of Poe’s “The Raven.” The voice-over is Lee’s last role, and it’s hard to think of a more fit­ting final act for the ven­er­a­ble hor­ror maven. (Lee was also at the time record­ing “a heavy-met­al-rock-opera based on Charlemagne’s life”—one of many met­al albums he record­ed.)

Gar­cia has cre­at­ed a unique look for each fea­turette. For “Ush­er,” he tells Car­los Aguilar at Indiewire, “the idea was for the char­ac­ters to look as if they were carved out of wood, like if they were fig­ures that belonged to Czech ani­ma­tor Jirí Trn­ka.” Just hear­ing Lee above intone the phrase “an unex­pect­ed sense of insuf­fer­able gloom” is enough to con­vince me I need to see the rest of this film.

Just above, we have a clip from a much less famous Poe sto­ry, “The Facts in the Case of M. Valde­mar,” a chill­ing detec­tive tale about a man mes­mer­ized in artic­u­lo mor­tis—at the moment of death. Nar­rat­ed by Eng­lish actor Julian Sands, who has made his own appear­ances in sev­er­al hor­ror films, the ani­ma­tion style comes direct­ly out of clas­sic E.C. hor­ror comics like Tales From the Crypt, which drew many an idea from Poe, bas­ing one sto­ry “The Liv­ing Death!” on “M. Valde­mar.” The “mauve, yel­low and mossy green com­ic-book pan­els,” writes a New York Times review, “prove that you don’t need fan­cy tech­nol­o­gy to achieve a third dimen­sion.”

You’ll notice the unmis­tak­able vis­age of Vin­cent Price in the char­ac­ter of the mes­merist, and you’ll like­ly know of Price’s own turn as Poe him­self in An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe. Price also starred in Roger Cor­man’s many Poe adap­ta­tions—begin­ning with House of Ush­er—and Gar­cia has tapped the leg­endary Cor­man’s voice for Extra­or­di­nary Tales, as well as con­tem­po­rary hor­ror direc­tor extra­or­di­naire Guiller­mo Del Toro. And if this weren’t hor­ror roy­al­ty enough, Garcia’s ani­mat­ed take on “The Tell-Tale Heart” fea­tures none oth­er than Bela Lugosi, in an archival read­ing of the sto­ry the Drac­u­la actor made some­time before his death in 1956. Read more about how Gar­cia found the Lugosi audio and con­ceived of Extra­or­di­nary Tales in his inter­view here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Vin­cent Price Turn Into Edgar Allan Poe & Read Four Clas­sic Poe Sto­ries (1970)

Down­load The Com­plete Works of Edgar Allan Poe: Macabre Sto­ries as Free eBooks & Audio Books

Clas­sics Sto­ries by Edgar Allan Poe Nar­rat­ed by James Mason in a 1953 Oscar-Nom­i­nat­ed Ani­ma­tion & 1958 Dec­ca Album

The Mys­tery of Edgar Allan Poe’s Death: 19 The­o­ries on What Caused the Poet’s Demise 166 Years Ago Today

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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