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8/10
The Anti-Disney
telegonus6 October 2002
This Roger Corman adaptation of three Edgar Allan Poe stories is fun to watch, hard to take too seriously. The first tale, Morella, is the most sombre, featuring Vincent Price mourning the death of his wife, for which he blames his young daughter. It's short and quite dramatic. The second story, The Black Cat, is an amiable mess, featuring Price and Peter Lorre. It has some agreeable humor, especially in its wine tasting scenes, and has some evocative nineteenth century street and tavern sets. The final tale, Facts In the Case Of M. Valdemar, features Price as a dying man whose consciousness but not body is kept alive by a scheming mesmerist, played by Basil Rathbone. This one ends on a note of pure horror, and is nearest to Poe in its mood and ideas.

Screenwriter Richard Matheson did a reasonable job of adapting Poe, and Corman was probably wise to emphasize jokes in the middle tale, as Poe was one grim, death-haunted writer, and each of these stories is a meditation on death and the tricks it plays on us. Perhaps to compensate somewhat for the morbidity of the stories, Corman emphasizes bright colors throughout, as the decor and costumes are quite attractive, almost garish at times. The actors are fine, the older ones especially, though Maggie Pierce in Morella is quite good, if too contemporary in looks and voice.

I can't resist a few sociological comments on the Corman-Poe cycle of films of the early sixties. Tales Of Terror came out in 1962, the high noon of the New Frontier. This was a time of optimism and social change, the start of the space program and the Civil Rights movement, and yet in the middle of it all there was this series of low budget horror films, aimed mostly at children and teenagers, and quite unwholesome in atmosphere and subject matter. These weren't even monster movies, like the horrors of old, they were morbid movies about death, torture, witchcraft and premature burials. They were like anti-Disney films, with Price, Lorre and Rathbone instead of MacMurray, Brian Keith and Dorothy McGuire. If in Disney nothing really bad ever happened, in Corman-Poe nothing really good ever happened. Disney represented the smiling surface of America, while Corman-Poe hinted as anxieties just below the surface, and as such, sad to say, portents of things to come.
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The Corman formula scores again.
Backlash0072 December 2002
Tales of Terror is a classic anthology of Edgar Allen Poe stories brought to life by Richard Matheson's writing and Roger Corman's directing. It's loaded with genre favorites and Vincent Price stars in all three tales (that right there is enough to make me watch). All three stories are indeed dark or humorous, or both, with The Black Cat being the strongest simply because of the interaction between Price and Peter Lorre. Price really hams it up in the wine tasting scene and I crack up every time. And Lorre is incomparable. This yarn does feature a black cat, but it's more like The Cask of Amontillado actually. The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar is something else that needs to be seen. Basil Rathbone stars in this one and looks remarkably like a beardless Wes Craven. It's uncanny. Let us not forget the first story, Morella. This one is a dark drama and doesn't offer any humor. It's still great though and Price's character here reminds me quite a bit of the one he played in The Pit and the Pendulum (another Corman/Poe production). If you like the other Corman adaptations of Poe, don't miss this one.
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7/10
Three Adaptations of Good Stories by Edgar Allan Poe
claudio_carvalho23 August 2014
"Tales of Terror" presents three adaptations of good stories by Edgar Allan Poe directed by Roger Corman.

(1) "Morella": The twenty and something years old Lenora (Maggie Pierce) returns to the derelict house of her estranged father Locke (Vincent Price). Her mother Morella (Leona Gage) died after giving birth to Lenora and Locke still grieves and blames Lenora for the death of his beloved wife. Lenora finds the corpse of Morella on her bed and Locke tells that he could not leave her in a coffin six feet under. Locke tries to make amends for abandoning Lenora but something supernatural happens.

"Morella" is the weakest segment of this trilogy of horror tales. The good theatrical performances and the excellent sets make it worthwhile watching. My vote is six.

(2) "The Black Cat": The drunkard Montresor (Peter Lorre) is an abusive man that spends the money that his wife Annabel (Joyce Jameson) earns working drinking wine in a tavern. He also mistreats her black cat. One day, Montresor meets the connoisseur of fine wines Fortunato Luchresi (Vincent Price) and he disputes his knowledge with him. Fortunato brings Montresor home and woos Annabel. When Montresor discovers that his wife is having a love affair with Fortunato, he plots an evil scheme to seek revenge.

"The Black Cat" is the best segment of this trilogy. This story has humor and Peter Lorre's performance is very funny. The conclusion is hilarious with the cat's meow. My vote is eight.

(3) "The Case of M. Valdemar": The wealthy Ernest Valdemar (Vincent Price) is terminal feeling great pain. He hires the hypnotizer Carmichael (Basil Rathbone) to relief his pain and asks his beloved wife Helene (Debra Paget) and his Dr. James (David Frankham) to get married to each other after his death. However Carmichael controls his mind and Valdemar dies but his soul stays trapped in his body. Carmichael tells Helene that he let Valdemar go only if she marries him but his attitude brings tragic consequences.

"The Case of M. Valdemar" is a creepy tale of terror. Debra Paget is very beautiful, the veteran Basil Rathbone is scary with his eerie power and the conclusion is great. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Muralhas do Pavor" ("Wall of Terror")
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8/10
Very Good Poe Adaptations
BrandtSponseller27 January 2005
This film is a very loose adaptation of three Edgar Allan Poe tales, "Morella", "The Black Cat" and "The (Facts in the) Case of M. Valdemar", each roughly one half-hour in length. All three feature Vincent Price. The Black Cat also features Peter Lorre, and M. Valdemar also features Basil Rathbone. Morella concerns a daughter returning to the home of her father, who is estranged because of the mother's death. The Black Cat concerns an alcoholic who makes a crucial mistake in covering up a crime. And M. Valdemar concerns a doctor experimenting with hypnosis (or "mesmerism") on a terminally ill man.

Although fairly clunky and uneven compared to the other Roger Corman/Vincent Price Poe collaborations (which tend to be excellent), and even compared to other similar collections of short films from the same era, such as Amicus' Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965), this is still a good film, and earned an 8 out of 10 from me.

It is usually very difficult to try to adapt Poe stories to film--similar to the difficulty of attempting to adapt H.P. Lovecraft to film. Both authors write very dense, poetic, often abstract prose, and Poe, especially, is sometimes not very plot-oriented. Each segment in Tales of Terror succeeds in its own way, however.

Morella, as Poe writes it, is an exploration of what personal identity means, particularly as it applies to continuation through offspring. In director Corman and writer Richard Matheson's hands, Morella becomes an even more abstract depiction of the ideas of personal identity, turned into more of a supernatural ghost story. It's also implied in the film that a lot of the events perhaps occurred in Locke's (Price) mind, leading up to the tragic ending. This segment is particularly notable for the set design, which is the best in the film.

The Black Cat, which is Poe's most conventionally plotted tale out of the three presented here, is also probably the most changed. The changes in this case are surely due to the still lingering studio-imposed moral and content restrictions of the "Golden Era" of Hollywood. The changes are understandable, if still lamentable, in historical context. Corman and Matheson turn Poe's very dark and somewhat grisly story into more of a comedy for its first half, then more a tale of moral retribution in the second half. It's a joy to watch in any event, especially seeing Price's hammy comic performance. The ending of this section is as chilling as the beginning is humorous.

Except for the addition of a couple characters, The Case of M. Valdemar is probably the closest to its source in spirit. This is a tightly scripted, creepy story, and the Carmichael (Rathbone) character is actually an improvement on Poe, and it's great to see Rathbone play someone so evil. In a fairly literal way, this is a great zombie story, although the ending of the filmed version is a bit more vague in both plot and in explaining the horrific dilemma than Poe's version.

Despite its slight flaws--mainly that it's a bit too bright and colorful and the mood of the segments could have matched better--Tales of Terror is worth viewing, especially for any Poe, Corman, Price or Rathbone fans.
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7/10
Pretty good
preppy-32 October 2004
Another of the Roger Corman/Vincent Price films based VERY loosely on three Edgar Allan Poe tales.

The first is "Morella" where a dying girl comes to visit her father (Price) and find out why he abandoned her as a child. It has to do with her mother (Morella) and her death. Well-done but it doesn't make a lot of sense.

"The Black Cat" is about a man (Peter Lorre) finding out his wife is cheating on him with someone else (Price). It's pretty good but Lorre's acting turns it into a comedy more than a horror story.

"The Case of M. Valdemar" has an evil mesmerist (Basil Rathbone) keeping a man's spirit alive while his body wastes away. Well-done with a pretty gruesome ending.

Basically this a good anthology of horror stories. They're well-produced, well-acted and written. Just don't expect them to be anything like the Poe tales (especially "Morella"). GREAT liberties have been taken with the stories--they just use them as a starting point and build on it.

Also try to see it letter-boxed--the pan and scan TV version is pretty terrible.

I give it a 7.
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6/10
None to shabby mix of horror and comedy starring the legendary Vincent Price!
Snake-66625 April 2004
Roger Corman presents this horror anthology based on three stories by Edgar Allen Poe, where all three segments are introduced by and star Vincent Price.

‘Tales of Terror' is a movie which generally is hard to accept as a serious horror film, but fun when considered as a camp and kooky entry into the genre. Vincent Price is excellent in all three of his fairly contrasting roles and one could certainly see this film as a major piece of evidence when attempting to ascertain just how great and diverse a performer the late Mr. Price actually was. Roger Corman's directorial lavishness served to give the entire a movie a certain air of pomposity that lacked from some of his previous efforts and the varying directorial styles that Corman utilised throughout the film are the most prominent reason for the enjoyability of the movie.

In the first segment, entitled ‘Morella', Vincent Price stars as Locke, a man traumatised to the point of insanity following the death of his wife (Leona Gage). Locke blames the early passing of his wife solely on his daughter Lenora (Maggie Pierce) and is therefore unimpressed and enraged when she shows up at his door twenty-six years since he last saw her. However, the relationship between the two starts to grow strong, before events take a horrifying turn. Easily the most solemn and horrific of the three stories, ‘Morella' is unfortunately too short a segment for one to really enjoy the production. It seems that Corman preferred to concentrate the majority of the segment solely on the relationship between Lenora and her father, thus leaving the ending scenes looking rushed and the viewer to feel rather unsatisfied. That is not to say the story itself is not entertaining, it just does not appear to have fulfilled its potential. Good performances, some magnificent (albeit brief) haunting scenarios and a frightful image of a decomposed corpse are the highlights to this segment and certainly help to save it from the problems with pacing.

The following segment is far more corny and amusing. Entitled ‘The Black Cat', this story follows the drunk, cat-hating Montressor (Peter Lorre) who during one of his less sober moments, challenges Vincent Price's wine-critic character of Fortunato to a wine-tasting contest and shortly Montressor begins to wish the two had never met. This segment seems so far removed from the opening segment that one could be forgiven for thinking they were watching a different movie. ‘The Black Cat' takes a far more light-hearted tone as the entire segment is laced with camp humour – particularly the facial expressions and general mannerisms of Vincent Price during the wine-tasting contest. This is a far more extravagant Vincent than we had previously seen. Despite one or two dramatic moments of tension and suspense, the segment never really sends any chills down the spine and is quite obviously present mainly for comedy value. It is in this story that Corman primarily chooses to utilise camera effects and visual trickery to set the mood, which is usually to enhance the humorous aspects of the film, such as during the wine-tasting contest where the effects are obviously used to show the increasing state of Montressor's intoxication. Even a hallucinatory sequence where Vincent Price's character plays with a severed head has an undeniable camp, comic charm. All in all, this segment is fun but far from truly horrifying.

The final segment, called ‘The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar', stars Vincent Price as a terminally ill man receiving pain relief through a form of hypnosis. Valdemar (Price) agrees to be hypnotised at the point of death by Carmichael (Basil Rathbone), much to the dismay and disgust of Valdemar's wife (Debra Paget) and physician Elliot James (David Frankham). Unlike the first segment, this one suffers by moving too slowly. Corman does an excellent job of building the tension where required, but he seems to take a rather lethargic approach to moving the story along. Performances from the entire cast were excellent and are the main positive aspect to the segment. Overall, this seems a fitting way to end the film and features one particularly gruesome scene. Just like the previous two segments, the story never really seems to fulfil its potential but can hardly be described as poor.

Generally, the film is entertaining despite the pacing problems and intermittent moments of overabundant camp humour. Horror fans should not go into this movie expecting a serious fright fest. Instead it is best to view when ready to see some great performances from Vincent Price in three rather differing types of story. Excluding a couple of scenes, one should not find anything horrifying about this film, but should find multiple amusing aspects and a jolly good time. My rating for ‘Tales of Terror' – 7/10.
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10/10
A TERRIFIC MIX OF HORROR AND COMEDY
Katmiss26 May 2001
Roger Corman's "Tales of Terror" is a terrific mix of horror and comedy. In an era of horror films that take themselves so seriously, it's great to find a film that has its' tongue firmly in cheek. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to enjoy this film as much as i did, but the more I thought about it, weren't Poe's stories one big sick joke themselves?

Vincent Price appears in all three segments and he does a good job under the circumstances. Out of all three segments, the best (and funniest) is "The Black Cat", which also adds a dash of "The Cask of Amontillado" to the mix. Peter Lorre also stars in this segment and the wine tasting contest is among one of the funniest scenes Corman has ever filmed. I have only one quip: a simple switch in casting (Price as Montresor and Lorre as Fortunato) would have made the segment even better. But as it is, it's great stuff.

The opening sequence "Morella" is atmospheric and eerie. The recent remake was nowhere near as effective, so Corman's film provides proof that big budgets aren't necessarily better. Also, making Morella the heroine instead of the victim was an improvement.

The final sequence "Valdemar", has a great revenge ending involving a melting Price and Basil Rathbone. The acting is excellent and it achieves an odd mood the story didn't. It's a testament to Corman's abilities as director.

The technical credits are strong. Floyd Crosby's Panavision photography perfectly changes moods and textures depending on the story. It's exceptional work and should have won an Oscar. Daniel Haller's sets are exqusite. According to Corman himself, these were stock sets purchased from major studios that were altered depending on the story. They look great and real expensive and this gives the film additional class. Richard Matheson's script doesn't overcome its' horror with humor. It finds that thin line between the two and never falters. And Corman himself continues to grow as a filmmaker with each film. He may have made over 100 films, but many of them have stood the test of time, whether they be good, slick trash ("A Bucket of Blood") or important, groundbreaking films ("The Intruder", "House of Usher"). His films should be required viewing by anyone who wants to direct and learn how.

**** out of 4 stars
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Classic Corman, Price and AIP drive-in horror with a solid cast.
TomReed5 October 1999
This film's three segments are roughly based on Poe stories, with writer Richard Matheson adding subplots of adultery and jealousy. In "Morella," there's a dying father and daughter and a dead wife who decides to speed their demise (which Corman would cover again in his film "Tomb of Ligeia"). "The Black Cat" is an elaborated version of "The Cask of Amontilado" with the addition of adultery (and a funny guest part by Peter Lorre). "The Case of M. Valdemar" adds a lecherous hypnotist (Basil Rathbone) to the story of a hypnotized corpse. As in most AIP films, gore is minimal, and innocents rarely suffer (with the possible exception of the daugher in "Morella"). While not a major classic, it's enjoyable, with the charisma of the old cult film stars (Price, Lorre and Rathbone) one of the best elements.
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7/10
Corman, Poe, Price, and Matheson
utgard1424 December 2013
Fine Roger Corman horror anthology with a trio of Edgar Allan Poe tales adapted to screen by Richard Matheson, each starring Vincent Price.

"Morella" - Lenora (Maggie Pierce) returns home after years abroad to live with her father (Vincent Price) in his decrepit mansion. Price blames Lenora for killing her mother Morella. He keeps Morella's mummified body on a bed in the house. One night, Morella's spirit returns looking for revenge. Probably the weakest of the three stories. It's got familiar elements from many of the Corman/Price Poe films. A dilapidated old house, an obsessively grieving Price, possession, fiery climax. It also has several plot holes and a lack of clear focus. Still, the elements mentioned, though familiar, do entertain.

"The Black Cat" - Drunkard Montressor Herringbone (Peter Lorre) befriends Fortunato Lucrezi (Vincent Price) over their love of wine and soon discovers Fortunato is having an affair with Herringbone's wife (Joyce Jameson). He takes his revenge on the two with unintended consequences. This is a lighter story with a fun performance from Lorre. Always nice to see blonde beauty Joyce Jameson as well.

"The Case of M. Valdemar" - Dying M. Valdemar (Vincent Price) uses the treatment of a hypnotist named Carmichael (Basil Rathbone) to alleviate his pain and suffering. Against the wishes of his doctor (David Frankham) and his wife (Debra Paget), Valdemar agrees to a last request from Carmichael. Carmichael wishes to put Valdemar in a trance on his deathbed. He is successful in this but holds Price's soul in a state between living and dead, hoping to force Valdemar's beautiful wife to marry him. This was my favorite of the stories. Creepy sound effects, nice makeup effects, and memorable ending. Rathbone is terrifically evil and anything with Debra Paget in it is automatically worth seeing.

This is fun movie with some nice horror stories. If you're a fan of Price or Corman or anyone else involved, you'll love it I'm sure.
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9/10
An enjoyable trip that arrives with few reservations
captain_robert_april19 November 2001
An excellent film which seems made for the cast that is in it. Each tale excels with Price's presence and I was sad to see the movie end. While not quite as good for Price fans as "Last Man on Earth" or "Pit and the Pendulum," it also is not quite as surreal and comedic as Price, Lorre, and Karloff were in "The Raven." Definitely worth watching and is a great film to introduce younger audiences to possible interpretations of Poe as well as Price, Lorre, and Corman. Recommended
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"Handsomely mounted."
jamesraeburn20032 November 2004
Warning: Spoilers
A portmanteau film comprising three Edgar Allen Poe stories adapted for the screen by Richard Matheson.

Morella: A woman (the Morella of the title) died shortly after giving birth to her baby daughter. The father blamed his daughter for his wife's death and shunned her. However, twenty-six years later the daughter returns home and makes up with her estranged father. However, the father has kept his wife's corpse mummified and the spirit of the dead woman seeks revenge by possessing the spirit of her daughter.

The Black Cat: A drunkard discovers that his wife is having an affair with his best friend, a local wine taster. He rebels by burying them behind a brick wall also burying with them his wife's black cat whom he could not stand.

The Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar: An elderly man dying of an incurable illness agrees to let a shady mesmerist hypnotise him on his death bed in order to avoid the pain of his illness. However, when the mesmerist does this, he takes control of the man's spirit in order to command it to do as he pleases. When the spirit awakes it strangles the mesmerist and the corpse decomposes into slime.

Handsomely mounted entry in Roger Corman's Poe series. The special effects including the sequence in Morella where the spirit of the dead wife emerges through dark cobwebbed corridors in sinister shadow must have pushed the technological bounds of cinema to it's limits at the time. Another interesting sequence is in The Black Cat where the murderer in a drunken stupor has a nightmare in which his victims have beheaded him and are tossing it from one to the other and the man is still crying out give me back my head with the headless body chasing it and the face still alive with expressions. Grisly but technically astonishing even after forty-two years since it was released! The cast is exemplary with Price who features in all the stories shining best in The Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar as the dying man. In this story Basil Rathbone (former Sherlock Holmes star) is outstanding as the evil hypnotist. Peter Loree is also fine as the old soak driven to murder in The Black Cat. Corman's direction is good and Floyd Crosby's camera-work is simply brilliant.
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10/10
Terror times three.
live-a-lifestyle1 September 2007
I think this film is very underapreciated, but as I watched it for the fourth time last night i really enjoyed it. I tryed to focus on each segment individually-towards the end when I watch 'The M. Valdemar case' I felt that I was still thinking about the previous two segments.

I really liked this film. I love it how Price plays a completely different character in each segment, in addition hid acting was very good even though you don't get to understand the character as throughly as in other full lenght films. I also like it how the stories cover a wide range of ideas. The cast is good also as there is Peter Lorre, Basil Rathbone, some beautiful woman, and of course last but definitely not least Vincent Price.
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5/10
A Very Odd Yet Interesting Film
smartcookie32631 May 2007
As a fan of both vintage horror films and Poe, I knew I had to see this one. I was familiar with Poe's Morella and The Black Cat, so I wanted to see how the film treatment compared. I hadn't yet read The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemir.

In short, I was not too impressed with the first and third stories in the movie, but the second one was very funny. I watched it with my 11-year-old son, and he enjoyed it as well.

It was interesting to see how elements of the Poe stories were worked into the film. The writer(s) used not only the 3 sub-titular stories as inspiration, but drew from other stories and poems. Someone who is familiar with Poe's writings will notice several familiar names (Lenore from The Raven, Annabel from Annabel Lee, Fortunato, Luchresi, and Montresor from The Cask of Amontillado). The Black Cat segment is really a blending of that story with The Cask of Amontillado, which is a very interesting combination indeed...especially since it results in a downright funny (albiet VERY darkly funny) story, as there isn't much funny about either Poe story.

Overall, I'm glad I saw it, although I doubt that I'll watch it again.
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7/10
Corman, Poe & Price.
hitchcockthelegend19 February 2015
The fourth venture into Poe adaptations for Roger Corman and Vincent Price sees them taking on the portmanteau format with a trilogy of creepers.

First off is Morella, which finds Price as a typecast loner living in a big old mansion with the dead corpse of his wife! Enter his daughter, who at birth was the reason for Morella's death and thus Price originally holds a grudge, but of course there is a twist in the tale.

Secondly is The Black Cat, with Peter Lorre joining Price in the best of the three tales. Price is a wine tasting dandy, Lorre a complete drunk and once Price meets Lorre's beautiful put upon wife, things are going to end badly.

Finally is The Case of M Valdemar which pits Basil Rathbone into the mix as a devious hypnotist who uses his powers for what he thinks will be sexually tinged deeds. Price is in this as well, but spends most of the story as a corpse.

It's a short sharp shock piece of film making, fun and sometimes stylish, it doesn't however have the requisite scares to marry up with the welcome black humour that makes the second instalment the standout.

Still, having three legends of cinema in one picture has to be a bonus, and The Black Cat alone is worth investing time with this one. 7/10
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5/10
Formulaic and overly familiar, but extremely funny at times
tomgillespie200219 March 2015
By the time the incredibly prolific Roger Corman came round to making his fourth entry in the now-dubbed Corman-Poe cycle, it seemed that the count-the-coppers director was getting a bit bored with Edgar Allen Poe. Although he would make four more adaptations, including one of the best - The Tomb of Ligeia (1964) - Tales of Terror lacks the Gothic atmosphere generated in the likes of The Fall of the House of Usher (1960) and The Pit and the Pendulum (1961). There's three tales here, but little of the terror. In fact, the film works best as a comedy thanks to some tongue-in-cheek camping from Corman-Poe stalwart Vincent Price, and one of the most convincing impersonations of a drunk I've ever seen from Peter Lorre (although the actor's morphine addiction may have played some part).

The first tale, Morella, sees Price don the familiar guise of a reclusive widower, Locke, holed up in a decaying mansion in solitude. His estranged daughter Lenora (Maggie Pierce) arrives to inform her father than she is dying. With his wife Morella (Leona Gage) having died during childbirth, Locke blames his daughter and to her horror, reveals his wife's decaying corpse still lying in bed. After forgiving Lenora after she reveals her impending death, Morella's vengeful spirit awakens to try and claim her daughter's body. This first entry is relatively short and sweet, but will be overly familiar and too simplistic to any viewers who have seen Corman's previous Poe adaptations.

The central piece, The Black Cat, is a combination of two Poe stories - The Black Cat and The Cask of Amontillado - and is without a doubt the best. The permanently sozzled Montresor Herringbone (Lorre) hates his wife Annabel (Joyce Jameson) and her cat, and is frequently abusive to both. Broke, he stumbles into a wine-tasting event in the hope of some free booze. He challenges the world's finest wine taster, Fortunato Luchresi (Price), to a contest but becomes too drunk to finish. Fortunato helps him home where he meets Annabel, and the two begin an affair. When he discovers he has been cuckolded, Herringbone plans to put an end to his wife and her lover's affair, and rid himself of the black cat forever.

The Fact in the Case of M. Valdemar, the final piece, sees Price again playing a dying man under the watchful eye of hypnotist Carmichael (Basil Rathbone). Putting him in a trance moments before his death, Carmichael manages to prolong his mind, and can hear the dead man's thoughts as he experiences the finality of death. It's certainly the most interesting story from a psychological perspective, but Corman side-steps Poe's deeper themes for a more formulaic horror approach. The stories are certainly a mixed bag, lacking originality for the most part and certainly failing to capture the depth of Poe's text, but the middle story is memorable and extremely funny, with Price and Lorre delivering exceptional performances in roles they could do in their sleep.

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9/10
Fantastic. Warning: Spoilers
I bought this DVD on impulse from a second-hand store for $3.00. I thought, one dollar a story, nothing wrong with that. Watching it that night, I found that $3.00 is an insult - it is worth so much more.

Knowing that a Poe adaption is really quite difficult, I was prepared for the films to stray from the original stories, more or less. Nevertheless, each story is highly enjoyable, atmospheric and yes, even scary.

*Spoilers* Morella, an eerily creepy tale with fantastic acting from the one and only Vincent Price. His performance whilst his daughter suddenly passes away is truly heart-breaking, and the last shot of Locke's wife is terrifying. It is my personal favourite of the three.

With the Aptly titled The Black Cat, Peter Lorre's display of the unlikeable yet likable drunk is very witty, and no doubt will this segment give you more than a few laughs, as will Vincent Price. I was very surprised by the dream sequence in which Mr. Herringbone is, um, toyed with by his wife and her lover. Scary stuff, with a great use of lens.

The finale, The Case of M. Valdemar, is my least favourite, yet still is a fine ending story. The hypnotism scenes were supervised by a real hypnotist so the way in which the scenes are executed are very convincing. Frightening is the thought of being trapped in limbo, your own personal hell, so to speak. The ending of this story is silly yet scary, and it features a very lingering final shot of the slime covered skeleton over the hypnotist's body (expertly portrayed by Basil Rathbone).

*End spoilers* I'm extremely glad I bought this feature, and it will sit on my shelf for many years to come, fitting nicely in between Suspiria and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).
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8/10
Good although twisted stories a bit
MrsFrankenstein19 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This was indeed a very good movie but it did twist up the Poe stories a tad. Like in the first one which was supposed to be Poe's Morella, in the story Morella did indeed die giving birth to the daughter but unlike the story the movie had the daughter visit her father and Morella take vengeance on the daughter.

Then in the second tale of terror which was supposed to be The Black Cat, they took a lot from The Cask of Amontillado as well. For example the names and the wine tasting. But in the story, the reason the wife was killed was because she stopped the narrator from killing the cat and he was outraged. But in the movie, the man caught his wife cheating with Fortunado and killed them both.

Then in the third tale, which was based off of The case of M. Valdemir, this one was actually the closest in the tales, but in the story he just rotted away in his bed. But in the movie, they wanted to spice it up a bit so they decided that the mesmerizing doctor wanted Vladimir's wife and when he got to rough, Vladimir's rotting flesh finished the menacing doctor off.

This movie is very good. Though they changed it up a bit it was still very good for Poe fans.
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6/10
Very watchable as long as you really aren't looking for Poe!
MartinHafer15 December 2006
An alternate title add's "Edgar Allen Poe's" to the beginning of the title, though fans of Poe's stories will be a tad confused to say the least because these stories are only broadly inspired by his stories. For example, the tale BLACK CAT is actually created by morphing Poe's "The Black Cat" with "The Cask of Amontillado" and allowing the writers to add and hack away a lot of material. Unfortunately, American International Pictures (never a place of "high art") used the titles but often little more of Poe's stories for a batch of movies starring Vincent Price. Some of them are very watchable and good, but they usually have contempt for the original material--straying extremely far from the original in most cases. Often, the public thought they were seeing a Poe tale, but it was really an all-new story from start to finish.

Despite this, this is still a pretty good film--particularly the third tale of the trilogy. I would score them as follows: the story about Morella (4), The Black Cat (6) and The hypnosis segment (9). So, as you can see, the stories got progressively better. The one about Morella just didn't make much sense and was dull. The Black Cat was, for me, too comedic in tone to be anything other than ordinary. But, the segment starring Basil Rathbone and Vincent Price was exciting and the only negative was the gross and silly melting special effect. Many will like it, but I think it was a bit too much. As for the acting and production values, they were pretty good for an AIP movie. Nothing to get excited over, but for fans of horror, I am sure you won't be disappointed.
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decent anthology
callanvass15 May 2004
decent anthology has AWESOME! acting by Vincent price an excellent job done by Peter Loree and a chilling performance by Basil Rathbone make this slightly above the routine the first story is average nothing spectacular but it has a couple of moody and creepy scenes and a good job by Vincent Price to make it a decent if okay story the second story is also decent with another good job by Price and a spectacular performance by Peter Loree but the ending is kinda lame the third story is the best of the lot with a another spectacular performance by price and a Chilling and very well done performance By Basil Rathbone and an ending that chills you right down to the bone overall a not bad anthology Awesome acting but kinda routine anthology still i kinda enjoyed and recommend it as a rental **1/2 out of 5
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8/10
Tales of Terror
Scarecrow-8826 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Trio of visually lush supernatural tales from the genius of director Roger Corman, writer Richard Matheson, inspired from the masterful works of Edgar Allen Poe, starring the great Vincent Price in all three.

The first tale stars Price as a sulking, boozing recluse, living in a cob-webbed life-less castle, whose existence has been haunted by the memory of long-lost love Morella(Leona Gage). Dying adult daughter Lenora(Maggie Pierce), sent away from her father because of reasons she seeks answers for, returns to the castle attempting to patch up their differences before it's too late. Lenora finds out that her birth was a reason behind Morella's death and finds her mother's corpse in father's room. Attempting to make amends will prove difficult as the vengeful spirit of Morella will rise to take revenge on those she holds responsible for her demise.

Peter Lorre triumphs in the second tale as Montresor Herringbone, a belligerent unemployed drunk who pries away his wife's sewing money for more drink. A chance meeting occurs with a dollied-up, prissy, kindhearted aristocratic wine-taster Fortunato(Vincent Price)in a tasting contest, for which Herringbone persistently brought about just to gulp more vine-juice for free. What Herringbone doesn't realize is that his wife, Annabel(Joyce Jameson), after tolerating his crap for years, has fallen head-over-heels for Fortunato, who has brought a romance and love to her life that has never existed before. Consumed with jealousy and wrath, Herringbone venomously poisons them, shackling their hands and burying them alive behind a brick wall, mortared by his own hands. What Herringbone doesn't count on is Annabel's black cat, an animal he despises, interfering with his diabolical schemes. A macabre comedy, this one is, with Corman experimenting with the lens by stretching the characters in a "head-throwing" nightmare sequence that plagues Herringbone, as Fortunato and Annabel explode from their walled tomb to get him.

The third tale is especially chilling..an evil mesmerizist, Dr. Carmichael(Basil Rathbone)secretly covets his wealthy employer's lovely wife Helene(Debra Paget). Cleverly manipulating Valdemar(Price), by relieving him of the agony of his incurable disease through hypnotic suggestion, Carmichael gets him to agree to a specific request for his duties..at the moment of death, Valdemar allows Carmichael a chance to hypnotize him. Valdemar wishes for Helene to marry his good friend, medical doctor Elliot James(David Frankham), but after Valdemar's death, Carmichael has other plans. Carmichael holds all the cards because Valdemar is trapped in a limbo state of darkness, unable to escape unless released. Carmichael desires Helene and is the only one who can give her beloved dead husband peace. But, when Carmichael threatens to harm Helene in a struggle, Valdemar's slowly deteriorating corpse will rise from his bed to protect the one he loves.

As in most anthologies, each tale is completely different than the next. The second one with Lorre is more of a black comedy, while the last one presents quite the horrifying ordeal of being controlled by another even after death. I felt the first one was the weakest, but more akin to Corman's many other Poe productions, specifically in the "explosive climax" as the castle, in true fashion, crumbles with flame arising throughout.
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9/10
More anxiety about deceased wives and being buried alive from Poe!
trouserpress14 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this Corman Poe anthology over the weekend, and really enjoyed it. I was particularly impressed with Vincent Price's performance in the Morella segment. It was very restrained and believable, compared with his sometimes theatrical performances in the other Poe pictures. The only letdown for me was the end of the segment, which was almost identical to the end of House of Usher and Tomb of Ligeia, including the same shots of the burning barn!

The Black Cat segment was a combination of this Poe story with The Cask of Amontiado. I found it very entertaining, especially Price's wine tasting. It was interesting to note that that an official wine taster was listed as a technical adviser in the credits. Price was also quite familiar with wines I understand, so he must have enjoyed sending it all up. I thought Lorre was hilarious, yet he still managed to be cruel at the same time. I understand this comical segment of the movie inspired Corman and Price to do The Raven as a comedy, as well as Torneur's Comedy of Terrors. I think these were all written by Matheson.

I enjoyed Basil Rathbone's sinister performance as the mesmerist in the final segment The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar. I also found Price's disembodied voice quite chilling. It was definitely the most frightening of the three segments.

I think this was a great opportunity for Price to play three such different roles in the same movie. He was excellent, particularly in the opening segment, as I've mentioned. And once again Roger Corman came up with the goods!
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7/10
Corman meets Poe…part IV
Coventry13 February 2004
All together, Roger Corman directed eight movies that were based on (short) stories by the legendary Edgar Allen Poe. Tales of terror is the fourth one and some sort of turning point in the series. Tales of Terror implements a wicked sense of humor for the first time that'll become more and more a trademark in the later movies. Especially the second story (which is more or less the main episode) mixes scares with devilish laughs. The first story is rather lame and highly unoriginal. It shows quite a lot of resemblance with the earlier 'House of Usher' and therefore it's best you only consider this a forgettable warm-up. The Black Cat, on the other hand, is a very enjoyable tale. Peter Lorre dominates this one, with his hilarious performance as the miserable drunkard who seeks ghastly revenge on his wife and her lover. A very stylish fable with stunning photography and wonderful settings. After seeing this story, you're completely settled for the grand finale! 'The Case of Mr. Valdemar' is the absolute top!! This last short story is a truly petrifying experience with the exact right amount of scares, shock-effects and even a bit of gore. Basil Rathbone is really ghoulish as the obsessed and perverted hypnotist with a lack of human emotions. The anthology format used in Tales Of Terror spoils the fun a little, since atmospheric-building details can't be used like they should. Nonetheless, it's entertainment that fans can't afford to miss!
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7/10
Nonsense as Poe, wonderful Corman.(possible spoiler)
alice liddell26 January 2000
Warning: Spoilers
I made the stupid mistake before this film of actually reading the Poe stories on which it is based, thereby making it seem even sillier and shallower by comparison than it probably already was. Corman was never really interested in the real Poe, jettisoning his very difficult (both intellectually and ethically) ideas, cool stylistic method of relating the most appalling incidents and the tension between his narrative verbosity and tautly compact plots, declamatic precision and immense suggestiveness; retaining only the very superficial cod-Gothic trappings and the reputation for mental disease and horror the name Edgar Allen Poe conjures up.

So, in TALES OF TERROR, the adaptations of Poe are a nonsense. Rigorous tales written to dramatise philosophical tenets are turned into daft melodramas. Ciphers are turned into caricatures. The most intricately constructed allegories are literalised and made to seem childishly crass. Giving characters motivations and histories make a mockery of Poe's fictional chessmanship.

But if it's bad Poe, it's terrific Corman, and sometimes his additions bring interesting variations of their own. The first and third tales are the weakest. 'Morella' ignores most of the plot of the very short tale, and deals with the events after its climax. A young woman, Lenora Locke, arrives at a derelict castle, having been sent away by her father 26 years previously after the death of her mother, for which she was somehow blamed. Her father is initially hostile, clearly insane with the grief; the house, Miss Havisham-like, is exactly as it was on the day Morella died, a banquet table wreathed in cobwebs and tarantulas, the dead woman's skeleton, unburied in her chamber. Gradually, though Locke's sanity returns through the love of his daughter, dying herself after a lifetime of bad marriages and ill-treatment by men. But Morella still demands revenge.

Corman counters Poe's misogyny by shifting the viewpoint away from the male narrator to a fermale heroine who barely exists in the tale. It is she who enters the house, experiences its horrors, restores its doomed inmate. The revenge of Morella also moves away from the narrator to this daughter, only its instrument in the story. Poe's necro-aesthetics and musing on the fragmented mind and the Ideal Soul are ignored, but there is nothing put in their place - consequently, the film doesn't make much sense. We don't understand why Morella should want to wreak revenge on someone who might have killed her as a baby.

The plot becomes dominated by the women - the heroine is killed, Morella takes her place - masculinity is impotent and goes irretrievably insane; the house of the mind goes up in flames. The film's tortuous melodramatics are uninteresting, and Vincent Price's heart doesn't seem in it, but there is remarkable narrative commentary from the wonderful music, and a brisk fluidity to Corman's filming that demands admiration.

The third film, 'The Facts Of The Case Of M. Valdemar', is perhaps closest in story to its plot, but furthest from its spirit. Poe's story about a hypnotist who managed, through mesmerism, to keep a man alive after death was written with such detachment that it was printed in a prestigious scientific journal as a true case study. That sense of experiment and report is crucial to the story's success as it reveals the paganistic powers of science, the unfathomable capabilities of the mind, and the terror of a dead man who cannot die. The mesmerist-narrator is always a detached scientist, and while his very detachment in such a case might betoken insanity, it is a far cry from the eye-rolling villainy of Basil Rathbone here, who simply wants to marry the dead man's wife.

Poe wants to show how mad calm, rational science is. Rathbone is simply demonised, with a personal stake in playing with a man's soul. This makes Valdemar's plight less shocking, but Carmichael, within Rathbone's barnstorming limits, is an interesting character, unable to cope with the monster he has created, and finally destroyed by it. The casting of Rathbone is a welcome stroke of genius; still the embodiment of rationalist supreme, Sherlock Holmes, our expectations are compellingly checked here.

If these two films aren't up to much, the centrepiece, 'The Black Cat', is a wonderful black comedy, which strays furthest from its source. Poe's story is one of the most horrific things I've ever read, featuring a once sensitive man who declines into alcoholism, beats his wife, gouges the eye out of, than hangs, a cat, and finally splits his wife's head open with an axe, before walling her corpse in a cellar. It's existential, metaphysical and supernatural depths are despairing to consider, its violence as repellent as literature can get.

The film, on the other hand, is as much bouncy fun as you can have. The unnamed narrator becomes Montresor Herringbone (!), embodied by a very short and fat Peter Lorre. There are moments of unpleasantness as he harrasses his wife for money, but there is little sense of crisis in his paralysis. Price is an absolute hoot as a ludicrous and effete winetaster, Fortunato - the tasting competition is comic genius - who begins an affair with Montresor's wife. Montresor finds out, and determines to revenge himself. The dispatch of Fortunato, his imprisonment, the visit of the police, Montresor's hallucination and dream, and the final revelation should all be deeply horrific, but are instead delightful fun. The playful music, the jokey fade outs, the continuous intimation than repudiating of darkness, the gleeful pantomime performances, all add to the lovely effect.
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6/10
Stories are good, not great, but definitely good.
ChuckStraub29 November 2004
'Tales of Terror' consists of three separate stories based loosely on the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. The trilogy is directed by Roger Corman and among the cast are Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Basil Rathbone. This alone should sound interesting enough for you to want to watch this movie. Great acting and a combination of dark humor and horror make this film enjoyable. The three short stories can be watched separately and don't have to be done in one sitting. One story is not connected to the other. Each can be enjoyed all by itself. The stories are good, not great, but definitely good. I wouldn't go out of my way looking for this movie but if it happens to pass your way, I would take the time and watch it.
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9/10
Excellent
grantss30 September 2019
Excellent horror movie, based on three Edgar Allan Poe stories. Great plots and scripts, but what do you expect from Edgar Allan Poe?

Perfect pacing in all three, gradually building up to the gripping finale. Roger Corman's directing talents are on full display.

Vincent Price stars in all three, and is superb. His presence generates the terror.

Thrilling, fun, and in even funny (in the second story), this is what horror movies should be like.
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