Movie review of “Extraordinary Tales”: This anthology film gathers five short, animated works, generally quite good and based on short stories by Edgar Allan Poe. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
Just in time for Halloween comes this singular tribute to Edgar Allan Poe from veteran animator Raul Garcia (“Aladdin,” “The Lion King”).
“Extraordinary Tales” is an anthology film corralling five shorts, all directed by Garcia and based on Poe’s stories about obsession, guilt, madness and torment. Each is visually inspired by a unique style and each involves vocal work from past and present artists in the horror genre.
Connecting the quintet is an edgy, animated dialogue between a raven (who speaks for Poe, voiced by Stephen Hughes) and its muse, Death (Cornelia Funke).
Movie Review ★★★
‘Extraordinary Tales,’ with the voices of Christopher Lee, Bela Lugosi, Julian Sands, Guillermo del Toro, Roger Corman, Stephen Hughes, Cornelia Funke. Directed by Raul Garcia, from a screenplay by Garcia and Stéphan Roelants, based on stories by Edgar Allan Poe. Not rated; for mature audiences (middle-school age and up). 70 minutes. Grand Illusion, through Thursday.
Christopher Lee narrates “The Fall of the House of Usher,” all geometric planes and angles cracking apart and shattering as the mansion of Roderick Usher comes tumbling down in the wake of his sister’s death and entombment.
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In a somewhat scratchier recording, Bela Lugosi’s long-ago recitation of “The Tell-Tale Heart” perfectly suits Garcia’s stark black-and-white rendering, with its minimalist, paranoid emphasis on faces.
British actor Julian Sands tackles one of the lesser-known tales here, “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” about a dying man who consents to be hypnotized so that he can report from the beyond. The short’s saturated colors and wide-eyed images of terror recall pre-Comics Code, vintage horror comic books.
“Crimson Peak” director Guillermo del Toro narrates “The Pit and the Pendulum,” the least interesting of the five entries here for its videogamelike virtual environments.
“Extraordinary Tales” closes boldly with “The Masque of the Red Death,” which eschews narration completely for an action-driven, nightmarish look at a masked ball intruded upon by a red-robed specter of death. The one line of dialogue is uttered, appropriately enough, by Roger Corman.
Corman directed an unforgettable version of “Masque” in 1964, starring Vincent Price and Jane Asher. His cameo here is Garcia’s way of saying thanks.