The Fall of the House of Usher (1949)

Article #467 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 6-25-2002
Posting date: 11-18-2002

Sir Roderick Usher discovers that a curse has been placed upon his house.

After an introduction in which several men stand around talking about scary stories, one of them decides to read a Poe story to the rest. What follows is about thirty minutes of a plot that involves an old hag and a severed head, and I wouldn’t blame anyone who switches this one off in disgust at this point and wonders what any of this has to do with the actual Poe story (not that I actually expect every movie adaptation to be an accurate adaptation of its source, but if somebody is reading the story out of a book in the movie, you’d expect it to be more faithful). Don’t worry; the movie jumps back to the original story shortly after the halfway point, and follows it pretty closely from that point, only with the earlier subplot layered onto it. It feels for all the world like a short that was clumsily expanded to a feature length movie. There are some good moments, and much that is less so, and there are far too many “meaningful” shots of the severed head. I don’t think this movie really provides much competition against either the silent Epstein version or the Price/Corman version. It’s a bit of a curiosity that is more likely to elicit shrugs than scares.


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