Director – Stuart Gordon
Cast – Jeffrey Combes, Elyse Levesque, Aron Tager, Eric Keenleyside, Patrick Gallagher, Christopher Hayerdahl, Ken Kramer, Ian Alexander Martin
Release Year – 2007
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Stuart Gordon’s second entry into the “Masters of Horror” series once again tackled the story of a well known author, and this time it was not H.P. Lovecraft. Turning to the literary works of writer Edgar Allen Poe, Gordon tackled Poe’s short story of the same name as this entry, The Black Cat. Definitely a big improvement over his first entry into the series, Dreams in the Witch House, this one is definitely one of the better and most fulfilling entries into the “Masters of Horror” series.
This flick stars the ever-awesome Jeffery Combes as Edgar Allen Poe. It is 1840 Philadelphia and Poe is struggling with alcoholism, writer’s block, monetary issues, and his wife Virginia’s black cat named Pluto. At first Pluto means no harm, but when Poe’s wife takes ill his conditions worsen and Pluto becomes his enemy. Little does he know, Pluto has the ability to make his life a living nightmare, as well as bless him with the inspiration to create one of his greatest stories.
If you are a fan of Edgar Allen Poe’s work then I cannot see why you would not enjoy this one. This takes Poe’s story up a notch by actually having Poe himself go through the horrors brought on by the Black Cat, properly named Pluto, the same name as the Roman god of the Underworld. What makes this element even cooler is that horror icon Jeffrey Combes portrays Poe, and in fantastic fashion. Jeffrey Combes tends to play the usual quirky/nerdy characters in just about every role he is in, but not in this film. He gives a Johnny Depp-esque alcohol induced performance that is sure to be remembered by all of his fans. I really have always dug him as an actor, but I had NO idea he could act as well as he did in this film.
Story-wise this is basically just a 58 minute film version of Poe’s masterpiece “The Black Cat”, so those who have read the short story know of what ensues throughout the film. To those who have not read the story, do not worry…you will be in for a treat. Stuart Gordon’s direction in this one is top notch, and he never lets the audience go with his stunning visuals and neat use of cinematography. He really got the feel of the 1840s in this one, and I think that does wonders in complimenting the story. A simple film that comes along with awesome pacing, how often do you find that? Hardly ever, and it is thanks to great acing, writing(thanks Poe), and direction.
Overall, this is an awesome installment to the “Masters of Horror” series that I recommend to all fans of the horror genre, especially fans of Jeffrey Combes. He gives a performance never before seen, but always expected of him. Fans of Poe’s work should also give this one a shot and see one of the better film adaptations of his awesome short story.
– I ranked this film #4 out of the 26 entries into my Ranking the “Masters of Horror” Entries post.