Today is the first day of my 30 Days of Terror where I am spotlighting some of my favorite Horror Movies of all time. Since I love Edgar Allen Poe’s stories, I figured that I’d start the month with adaptations of the Tell-Tale Heart. These are two classics that are different in the way they tell the story, but equally good.
The Tell-Tale Heart (1941) is a short film, starring Joseph Schildkraut as Young Man, and Roman Bohnen as Old Man. I love how closely this follows Poe’s story. Of course, it’s not an exact replica, but it still is amazing. An extremely uncomfortable feeling is present, as intended, with the phantom beating of the heart. If you come across this one, watch it; it’s worth the twenty minutes of your life.
The Tell-Tale Heart (1960) cuts the story apart and puts it in a different order, and adds much to the original. I’m not saying it’s a bad adaptation, just different. This version adds a layer of sexual tension that is quite uncomfortable (as it should be).
Edgar Marsh (Laurence Payne) is an introvert, I guess you could say, but I’m leaning more toward sociopath, who enjoys pornographic photos and has a secret stash of them in his room. When a beautiful woman, Betty Clare (Adrienne Corri), moves in across the street from him, he becomes a creepy stalker/voyeur; she has the good sense to be apprehensive about Edgar.
When she meets Edgar’s best friend, Carl Loomis (Dermot Walsh), it’s love at first sight, and she begins inserting herself when Carl is there. Carl sees what’s happening and tries to escape because he doesn’t want to come between his bestie and his first real girlfriend. Edgar doesn’t seem to notice the interactions between his friends at first, but when he does, the initial reaction isn’t as strong as I’d expect from a jilted lover.
I love how at the beginning of the film, they warn the viewer to close their eyes when they hear a sound. Yet when the violence occurred, I didn’t hear. Nope, nothing. I didn’t hear it until several scenes later and only briefly. Speaking of violence, I’m impressed with the blood spatter use, and how it looked realistic even in black and white. The simplistic effects of things moving to replicate the sound of the beating heart are creepy. Even the undulating carpet and lawn are nicely done. I’m just not a fan of the ending.
Both adaptations are worth the time and get 5 out of 5 Stars from me.