Every Sunday in October is Poe Sunday, the day we celebrate the Master of Macabre, Edgar Allan Poe. This year, I’ll suggest the best movie adaptations of Poe’s work.
In the lingering post-pandemic era of Covid-19 and trump presidency, Roger Corman’s 1964 gothic horror triumph, The Masque of the Red Death has never seemed more relevant. Vincent Price’s sadistic portrayal of Prospero, the greedy devil-worshipping medieval ruler who tortured his peasant villagers and gave shelter to his wealthy courtiers from a plague, only to learn you can’t hide from death, is a chilling sublime performance that cemented his legacy as a horror legend.
Corman weaved two tales from Edgar Allan Poe, Masque of the Red Death and Hop-Frog to create this cult-classic and it’s one of his best. While he and screenwriters Charles Beaumont and R. Wright Campbell took several liberties with the stories, I find this adaption is the closest to any of Poe’s works.
Poe Sundays are all about honoring the works of Edgar Allan Poe. The Masque of the Red Death is perhaps one of my favorite stories. The visually striking story was written in such detail, it’s as if we are transported to the 14th Century Europe.
The magnificent concept artwork below was created by Sarah Kate Forstner. If you click the pic to link to Art Station, you’ll see even more stunning art that she created to accompany this beautiful masterpiece.
“THE “Red Death” had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avator and its seal — the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour.
But the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and sagacious. When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys. This was an extensive and magnificent structure, the creation of the prince’s own eccentric yet august taste. A strong and lofty wall girdled it in. This wall had gates of iron. The courtiers, having entered, brought furnaces and massy hammers and welded the bolts. They resolved to leave means neither of ingress or egress to the sudden impulses of despair or of frenzy from within. The abbey was amply provisioned. With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think. The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and security were within. Without was the “Red Death.””
The above is only an excerpt from The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe. To find out what happened next to Prince Prospero and his lavish masquerade, please visit PoeStories.com
All works by Edgar Allan Poe are widely considered to be public domain.