Like many young kids, the tales of Edgar Allan Poe were a spooky delight for me growing up, and it’s the childhood love of Poe that inspired legendary B movie king Roger Corman to bring his work to the movies in the 60’s.
His films included The House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, a comedic version of The Raven (which was adapted by Richard Matheson), The Tomb of Liegia, and more.
Shot fast and furious, but with wonderful production value and atmosphere, the Poe films of the ’60’s are still great Saturday afternoon fun, yet we oddly haven’t seen much Poe at the movies since. (We also haven’t seen much Lovecraft either after Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator and From Beyond).
Now Poe is being played by John Cusack, and returning with a new spin.
The Raven isn’t a direct adaptation of the poem but a fictional retelling of the last days of Poe’s life while he hunts down a serial killer whose work is inspired by Poe’s prose. The film is directed by James McTeague, who directed second unit on The Matrix movies and Star Wars Attack of the Clones, and who also directed V For Vendetta and Ninja Assassin with help from the Wachowski Brothers.
As a fan of Poe, I’ve been waiting for a biopic on the man for a long time, and this will obviously do it with an interesting spin. John Cusack is a great choice, but I’m also sad to say that the best casting choice for Poe got away a long time ago now: Robert Downey Jr. Believe it or not, Sylvester Stallone’s dream project has always been the life of Poe, which he would write and direct, and at one point Downey was attached to play him for Sly. (Funny enough, for The Raven, one of the writers is named Hannah Shakespeare).
On ScreenRant, Cusack said the last five days of Poe’s life was the most unexplained, and it would be a good place to start, and also as you can tell, it’s also a good launching point for a real person to be in a fictional story.
The first official trailer for The Raven was also launched on the anniversary of Poe’s death, and as co-star Luke Evans promised IndieWire, “it doesn’t shy away from how gory and detailed the murder stories that Poe wrote 160-something years ago, and how shocking they are today… It’s a proper suspense mystery thriller which has all of those murder and crimes scenes in it, which gives it a very sort of scary edge.”
At the same time, “It’s not just about gory murders… There is a very strong narrative that’s important to the characters’ journeys.”
Look for The Raven next year on March 9th.