Your Daily NEL: New English Library

Cheap and Nasty Seventies Horror Pulp

Edgar Allan Poe – Fantastic Tales

Posted by demonik on May 15, 2009

Edgar Allan Poe -  Fantastic Tales (“Special NEL edition”, March 1969)

Poe's Fantastic Tales

Poe's Fantastic Tales

Metzengerstein
William Wilson
Toby Dammit (“Never Bet The Devil Your Head”)
The Oblong Box
The Gold-Bug

Review and cover scans by Steve Goodwin

Something of a curio this one. A three-way tie-in with a (unrelated) “series of spellbinding films” based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe – one of which was never actually made.

There was nothing unusual about a Poe movie “adaptation” in the ’60s of course – films either based on stories by Poe, very loosely based on stories by Poe, or not even vaguely based on stories by Poe but availing themselves of his name or one of his titles anyway.

Quite why NEL should have produced a tie-in edition for the 1968 French/Italian Poe anthology film, Histoires Extraordinaires (AKA Spirits of the Dead/Tales of Mystery and Imagination) though, I’m not too sure.

The back cover credits Roger Vadim as director, in fact Vadim only directed the “Metzengerstein” segment with Jane Fonda. Even if it is more Barbarella than Berenice, the cover photo of Fonda is certainly… well, you can provide your own adjectives…
The “William Wilson” sequence with Brigitte Bardot and Alain Delon was directed by Louis Malle, and “Toby Dammit” (based on Poe’s “Never Bet The Devil Your Head”) was by Federico Fellini and starred Terence Stamp.

AIP’s 1969 production of The Oblong Box brought together Vincent Price and Christopher Lee but forgot to bring along much of Poe’s original story beyond the title. Michael Reeves (what was that other film he did? Oh yeah, Edgar Allan Poe’s Conqueror Worm… ) was originally up for this one but he was replaced and, as I’m sure we all know only too well, very sadly passed away the same year. As well as Price, Hilary Dwyer and Rupert Davies also reappear from Reeves’ er… earlier “Poe film”.

Having little or no shame whatsoever, AIP also planned an “adaptation” of Poe’s, “The Gold-Bug”. The fact that Poe’s original isn’t a horror story doesn’t seem to have phased Roger Corman overmuch – I mean, if you can get Vincent Price and Peter Lorre again and just recycle a few elements from The Little Shop of Horrors and A Bucket of Blood, who needs Edgar Allan Poe?
Well if you do, this book’s a nice little addition to any Poe collection (admittedly Jane Fonda’s Gothic swim-suit lends it a certain something…)

Fantastic Tales back cover

Fantastic Tales back cover

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