22 January 2007 | timhayes-1
Gordon delivers a winner
Stuart Gordon has long been a genre stalwart. From Re-Animator To From Beyond to Dagon he is widely recognized as a master of H.P. Lovecraft adaptations. Strangely enough he has only done one Poe film to date 1991's unjustly forgotten Pit & The Pendulum. That film was a delirious mix of Poe's narrative with the Spanish Inquisition.
Once again, Gordon returns to Poe for his second outing on Masters Of Horror. This time out it is The Black Cat being adapted and he and screenwriter Dennis Paoli deliver a doozy. Interweaving the narrative with actual moments from Poe's life is divine as the story is written in first person. Although there has never been any written proof that Poe had a black cat, who's to say he didn't? The titular feline actually belongs to his ailing wife Virginia. After being told by an editor to skip the poetry for one of his fantastical tales (they do sell better after all), Poe struggles to write the tale and deal with his wife's declining health and his own alcoholism. What follows is a delirious step into the author's tortured mind as he weaves in and out of fiction and fact.
There's is little of Gordon's signature gore on display here, but when he does present it, it leaves a big impact. Here, the director is trying to shock the viewer with animal torture. Even these scenes are few and far between but when they do arrive they hit hard.
Jeffrey Combs is perfectly cast as Poe. He looks the part and essays the character with style.
Indeed my only real complaint is a little too much switching back and forth between reality and dream. It gets a little confusing after a while and leaves the viewer playing catch up.
The Black Cat takes its place as my new favourite episode for season 2 and its going to take a lot to dethrone it.