Just in time for Halloween, I bring you a review I have been itching to do for quite a while. Extraordinary Tales is a movie unlike many others. It’s more like five movies within a movie. There are five segments based on well known writings by gothic favorite, Edgar Allen Poe; Fall of the House of Usher, The Tell Tale Heart, The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar, The Pit and the Pendulum, and the Masque of the Red Death. These segments are woven together by Poe, the raven, who sits int he graveyard conversing with death herself. It makes for a smooth transition, and a welcome respite of lightness from the darkness of each segment.
The beautiful part of this movie is that each segment is in a different animated style. Usher is done in a wood grain style that is beautiful and heartbreaking, which meshes well with the story and with the amazing narration by the always fantastic Christopher Lee.
For the Tell Tale Heart, the animators went dark and bleak. All black and white and with archived narration by the king of the night himself, Bela Lugosi. I would not watch this part at night, seriously, it is done so well. The spook factor is way high and nightmares are not a bad bet.
While all of the segments are creepy in their own way, The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar is definitely the creepiest. The animation is straight out of a early 70’s comic, but it does not take away from the sheer terror that you feel when watching the dead man sleep.
The fourth and tied for my favorite is The Pit and The Pendulum. I think I love this one so much, not only because the animation is breathtaking, but because Guillermo -freaking- Del Toro narrates it. And it is perfection. Creepy, sad, lonely, mad perfection.
And lastly, The Masque of the Red Death.
This has always been my favorite of Poe’s stories. I loved the decadence of it. The horror of what that decadence brings. And within this medium, I was so not disappointed. The animation is like a painting come to life. Gorgeous and lush with just enough pain on the surface to keep you enthralled. I did have to turn down the volume when I watched it on my phone so the kids couldn’t hear all the pleasure that happened in the baths, but otherwise, man…..I would watch this (I will watch this) over and over again.
Any fan of Poe needs to make the time to spend with this brilliant piece of film-making. And really, it’s on Netflix, so now is the perfect time. Make up some popcorn, turn of all the lights except for the jack o lantern’s candles and snuggle in for a creepy good time. 5 Stars and more if I’m honest.