When I was about nine years old and living in France I saw Histoires Extraordinaires (Spirits Of The Dead) on a small black and white TV late one night when I couldn’t get to sleep. Suffice to say it scared the hell out of me, mainly because of the unsettling and truly bizarre Fellini portion of the film, ‘Toby Dammit’. Based loosely on several Edgar Allen Poe stories, seeing this collection of short films coincided with my asking my mother for Poe’s complete anthology, that I got for my tenth birthday and I still have to this day.
The Fellini segment is based on the Poe story ‘Never Bet The Devil Your Head’. You could argue that it’s not that close to the original piece, but the uneasy and confused state of mind that Fellini creates with art direction and camerawork captures something about Poe’s writing that I find fascinating; a sense of evil and a distrust of social norms. In some ways, Toby is better off at the end.
A very nice person has made this available on YouTube in five parts.
I’ve no idea how I missed this after all these years, because it’s awesome. Tim Burton doing his thing way back in 1982, full of all the zany goodness that we’ve all come to love.
My favourite Tim Burton is probably Ed Wood, also my favourite film with Johnny Depp in it.
Anyway, check out this cartoon if you’ve never seen it – there’s worse things to do with six and a half minutes! Not only that, it’s actually narrated by Vincent Price, and as it’s all about a little boy who keeps pretending to be Vincent Price that’s pretty damn cool!
Georges Méliès’ “The Haunted Castle,” showing that you can do a lot more in three minutes in 1896 than you can in two hours over two episodes of a James Herbert adaptation in 2012. I’m looking at you Crickley.
James Herbert has had a bit of a bad run with adaptations. I don’t think anyone has ever made a good film or TV adaptation of one of his books. One of my favorites, The Survivor, was turned into a terrible film and one of my other favorites, The Spear, has never been tackled when I’ve always thought it would make a terrific film.
On the other hand, if no one is really up for getting some really great scriptwriters and directors to tackle one of his stories then perhaps we’re just better off reading the books.