Extended Short Subject Remake of Poe's HOUSE OF USHER -Worth seeking out
Curtis Harrington, who made an amateur short subject of Poe's THE HOUSE OF USHER, returns to the subject in his mature years. A touching and well-done extended short subject. Shot as early as 2000, and still making the rounds at film festivals (it is scheduled for Spain's Sitges Film Festival in the fall), USHER was recently screened at an intimate setting in Venice's Sponto Gallery with Director Harrington and Cinematographer Gary Graver in attendance.
A young writer comes to seek wisdom from an aging poet (played by Harrington in makeup VERY reminiscent of the most famous portraits of Poe himself!) at his spooky mansion. The writer soon learns not only of Usher's odd mannerisms, but of a phantom-like sister who prowls the grounds. In a bizarre waxworks-like masked ball, a birthday celebration turns deliciously ghoulish. the writer leaves the mansion with a lot of inspiration for his own future works! Taking off from the Roger Corman version of THE HOUSE OF USHER starring Vincent Price (not one of my fave Corman Poe's), Harrington's version is an improvement (perhaps not so coincidentally) because it uses the short film format to tell its tale rather than the rather convoluted plotting of the Corman version. As Usher, Harrington adds a touch of irony and poetry to the performance that overcomes his sometimes awkward acting. And, using his own house as an interior, brings an atmospheric touch to the proceedings. After the screening, Harrington gave his own props to Jean Epstein's silent version (1928) of the tale. Harrington also indicated that he is raising funds to shoot two more Poe stories in order to make up a feature length motion picture Anthology. It will be a film worth seeking out.
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