Roger Corman's Poe Cycle (1960 franchise)

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Scene from The Masque of the Red Death...


A series of several American International Pictures films made by Roger Corman and Samuel Z. Arkoff, typically starring Vincent Price and other horror icons, mostly based on the horror stories and poems of Edgar Allan Poe (though fiction from other writers was also used in the series, sometimes credited to Poe for marketing purposes, as in the case of the relatively unknown H.P. Lovecraft). The series includes these films:



MPAA Ratings

  • Rated: PG (generally PG, with some Adult Content, Violence, Brief Nudity)

Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • S____ (One Tentacle: Debateably Lovecraftian; has almost no direct connection to Lovecraft's work)

Generally only tangentially related to Lovecraft and his work (they were mostly based on stories by Edgar Allan Poe and other writers who would inspire Lovecraft's fiction and writing), but one or two films were at least loosely based on Lovecraft's stories and creations, infamously credited to the then better-known Edgar Allan Poe for publicity purposes; these Lovecraft-inspired films have their own pages:

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.


Review Links:

  • Kyle Anderson at The Nerdist, (link) - "...The Poe Cycle stands as Corman’s crowning directorial achievement. It’s easy to discount his artistic output because they were “just” low-budget horror movies, but this was a man who was using the assignment he was given to create a truly unique and wholly American series that borrowed from Britain and Italy but could have only been made by Roger Corman. I highly recommend you check these out if you can...."

Complete Film List and Synopses

  • House of Usher (1960, based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe) - Based on the classic story "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allen Poe and directed by legendary filmmaker Roger Corman, this thriller features Vincent Price as Roderick Usher, a man who believes his family to be cursed by incurable madness. So sure is he of his family's doom, that when his sister Madeline announces her engagement to Philip Winthrop, Roderick will stop at nothing to prevent their marriage and keep the Usher bloodline from continuing.
  • The Pit and the Pendulum (1961, based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe) - Elizabeth Barnard Medina has died in the prime of life, and her brother, Francis, wants to know why. Elizabeth's husband, Nicholas, and her doctor offer differing explanations, but when Francis learns that Nicholas' mother may have been buried alive, he begins to wonder if his sister met the same fate. And when he comes to believe that Elizabeth's spirit wanders about Nicholas' castle, Francis investigates -- and is stunned by what he finds.
  • The Premature Burial (1962, based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe) - Verden Fell is shattered after the death of his lovely wife. But, after an unexpected encounter with Lady Rowena Trevanion, Fell soon finds himself married again. Nevertheless, his late wife's spirit seems to hang over the dilapidated abbey that Fell shares with his new bride. Lady Rowena senses that something is amiss and, when she investigates, makes a horrifying discovery -- learning that Fell's dead wife is closer than she ever imagined possible.
  • Tales of Terror (1962 anthology film, based on stories by Edgar Allan Poe: "Morella", "The Black Cat", "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar") - Locke mourns his late wife, Morella, but has resentment toward his daughter that manifests itself in terrible ways; Fortunato Luchresi is challenged to a wine tasting by his rival, Montresor, who has deadly fantasies about Fortunato's wife; and Ernest Valdemar is dying and, with the help of a duplicitous hypnotist, finds a way to cheat death. Based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe.
  • Twice-Told Tales (1963 anthology film, based on stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne: "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment", "Rappaccini's Daughter", "The House of Seven Gables") - Vincent Price stars in three horror stories. In "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment," Dr. Carl Heidegger reanimates his long-dead fiancée. In "Rappacini's Daughter," psychotically over-protective father Giacomo Rappacini injects his daughter, Beatrice, full of poisons that kill anyone she comes into physical contact with. Finally, in "The House of the Seven Gables," Gerald Pyncheon moves into his cursed family mansion with his new wife.
  • The Raven (1963, based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe) - Magician Erasmus Craven is still deeply depressed two years after the death of his beloved wife, Lenore. One day, he's visited by Adolphus Bedlo, who has been transformed into a raven after losing a duel to Dr. Scarabus, an evil wizard. After Craven transforms Bedlo back into a human, Bedlo claims to have seen Lenore's ghost at Scarabus' castle, prompting the two to head to Scarabus' castle to seek Craven's lost love.
  • The Haunted Palace (1963 film, based on stories by H.P. Lovecraft, with minimal content from Edgar Allan Poe) - Condemned warlock Joseph Curwen curses a New England village just before being burned alive. More than a century later, Curwen's kindly great-great grandson Charles Ward arrives in town and moves into Curwen's old mansion. Caretaker Simon Orne helps Charles and his wife Ann adjust to their new home. The ancient curse, however, takes hold of Joseph, awakening inside him a long-dormant evil passed on through blood.
  • The Terror (1963 Poe pastiche) - Lt. Duvalier, a French soldier, loses contact with his unit and is forced to wander alone near the Baltic Sea. While in search of his regiment, he spies Helene, a mysterious beauty, walking by herself. Mesmerized, Duvalier begins tracking her, but she vanishes. He later catches up with her and follows her into a castle, where he encounters the bizarre Baron Von Leppe, finds signs of witchcraft and learns the shocking truth about Helene. Linked to the Poe films and made in a couple days just after "The Raven" on a shoe-string budget using sets, actors, etc. left over from The Raven, using familiar plot and story elements from other Poe films, but is not in itself actually based on a Poe story.
  • The Tomb of Ligeia (1964, based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe) - Based on Edgar Allan Poe's story about a cataleptic Englishman obsessed with the fear of being buried alive.
  • The Masque of the Red Death (1964, based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe) - A tyrannical 12th-century prince is intrigued by a girl and takes her to live amid the immorality of his court.
  • See also these Vincent Price films made without Roger Corman based on Poe and other horror writers:
    • Diary of a Madman (1963, based on a story by Guy de Maupassant) - Based on "The Horla", a story by Guy de Maupassant. When Judge Simon Cordier goes to see Louis Girot, a prisoner he sentenced to death, the criminal insists he is not guilty and that he is inhabited by an evil spirit. Cordier dismisses Girot's claims, but he becomes unnerved when Girot lights himself on fire to supposedly end the demonic possession. After the visit, Cordier, beset by insomnia, begins to have odd visions and starts to wonder if Girot might have been telling the truth after all.
    • The City Under the Sea (1965, loosely based on stories by H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe) - British rescuers try to free a kidnapped young woman from the ocean-floor complex of a mad captain.
    • Die, Monster, Die! (1965, based on a story by H.P. Lovecraft) - Based on "The Colour Out of Space (fiction)" by Lovecraft, a scientist travels to a small town to visit his fiancée and her parents; on arrival, he finds hostile villagers, the father Nahum acting suspiciously while the mother Letitia is hidden away in a bedroom, with a radioactive meteor to blame.
    • The Conqueror Worm AKA Witchfinder General (1968, titled after a Poe poem but not based on any of his stories) - A disturbing tale of evil set during the English Civil War. When Matthew Hopkins is appointed Witchfinder General by the Puritans under Cromwell, he is empowered to travel the countryside with his henchmen and collect a fee for each witch from whom he extracts a confession - a policy which is exploited to the full.
    • Spirits of the Dead (1968 anthology film, based on stories by Edgar Allan Poe: "Metzengerstein", "William Wilson", "Toby Dammit") - In one chapter of this three-in-one feature inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's tales, a countess, shunned by a horseman, kills the man and his animals yet pays dearly for her deadly act. Another focuses on a religious man who seeks absolution for a murder only to find that his violent impulses come rushing back. The third is about a boozing actor who accepts a car as compensation for a role, but is ultimately defeated by addiction.
    • The Oblong Box (1969, based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe) - Julian hides his horrendously disfigured brother, Sir Edward Markham, in a tower where he is kept in chains. Anxious for freedom, Edward fakes his death with the aid of an immoral attorney, Trench, and a pill that puts him into a catatonic state. But the escape plan takes a treacherous turn when Julian unwittingly buries his brother alive -- and he's later unearthed by grave robbers under the employ of malevolent Dr. Neuhardt.
    • Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968 film) (1969, based loosely on "Dreams in the Witch House" by H.P. Lovecraft) A man stops at a lodge, where he meets a professor of witchcraft and dreams about a green Barbara Steele.


Comments, Trivia, Dedication

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