MASTER OF HORROR (1960)
(a.k.a. OBRAS MAESTRAS DEL TERROR)
Article #984 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-23-2003
Posting Date: 4-21-2004
Directed by Enrique Carreras
Featuring Narciso Ibanez Menta, Mercedes Carreras, Carlos Estrada
A maid entertains herself on a stormy night by reading three stories from Poe.
Edgar Allan Poe’s name has been conjured up so often in the world of horror cinema that seeing his name attached to something means very little to me, especially considering how rarely any of these movies have been true to the spirit of his work. However, I have to admit I found myself entranced by the introductory narration in this adaptation of three of his stories from the country of Argentina; they spoke of him in terms that made me think of his literary status and his work rather than in terms of his name as a convenient horror label, and I was a little intrigued to see what would follow. I was delighted to find that this movie provided for me some of the most satisfying adaptations of his stories to date, despite the dubbing and a framing story that serves no other purpose than to set up a lame joke. The stories, THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR, A CASK OF AMONTILLADO, and THE TELL-TALE HEART are all presented; the first two are quite faithful, effectively filling in the backstories of the tales and adding slight but marked subtle touches of its own; in particular, I was impressed with how the hypnotist in the VALDEMAR story uses his subject’s own obsessions as a starting point in bringing them into a hypnotic trance. I was so impressed by this accomplishment, that I’m willing to overlook the relatively huge changes made to THE TELL-TALE HEART, partially because it is so powerful on its own that it easily becomes the most horrifying of the three tales, and partially because the changes it does make are startlingly effective. I highly recommend this one to Poe enthusiasts, and in terms of real Poe adaptations, this may be my favorite.