Review: ‘Extraordinary Tales’ May Be Animated, but Still For Adults







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Posted October 26, 2015 by

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I was lucky enough to stumble upon Edgar Allen Poe when I was still very young. While my contemporaries were reading ‘Goosebumps‘ to get their scares, I was giving myself nightmares with Poe’s beautifully worded tales of horror. One of my most prized possessions when I was in Junior High was a book of his collected works. I will not lie and say I made it all the way through, I was too busy reading and re-reading the stories that sucked me in immediately: “The Tell-Tale Heart”, “The Fall of the House of Usher”, and “The Pit and the Pendulum”. Fortunately for me, Garcia brings these three to life in this film, along with two others I was shamefully not familiar with, “The Facts In the Case of M. Valdemar” and “The Masque of the Red Death”. All five are genuinely unsettling, all for different reasons, and Garcia brilliantly creates each short film in a way that separates them from each other and gives them their own feel. Whether it’s the old-timey radio narration of Bela Lugosi in “The Tell-Tale Heart” or the use of multiple camera angles used in the Guillermo del Toro narrated “The Pit and the Pendulum”, Garcia finds clever ways to bring these stories to the movie audience.


While it’s a collection of short stories turned to film, Garcia beautifully connects all of them together by portraying Poe as a Raven speaking to Death about his obsession with her. These moments of conversation between the two not only give a brief synopsis of Poe’s actual life, but it’s also poetic in its delivery. Whether it may be true or not, it’s interesting to listen to these two characters talk as Poe tells her that he doesn’t fear her, he just wants his stories to live on forever.

I won’t describe each story in full in this review because that would take forever, and probably be a really dry read, but I will point out some of the things I liked. The narration in each film really gives these stories another creepy layer they never really had in my head. Whether it’s the strong voice of Sir Christopher Lee booming throughout the film, or del Toro’s almost-a-whisper narration that makes you lean in to the danger just to hear him, they are able to suck you into the story while also chilling you to the bone.

Like I said, each film has its own look which really helped in keeping them from blending in together or becoming uninteresting to the eye. “The Tell-Tale Heart” for instance is the only one that is in black-and-white, while “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” plays out like pages of a comic book come to life, and the final act “The Masque of the Red Death” looks like a mix between Ralph Steadman and an old school Disney film. “The Masque” is also the only one that mostly plays out through action, having only one line of dialogue before it’s climactic ending.

I don’t want to forget about the original music done by Sergio de la Puente. His score is just as important in setting the mood as all of the narration and animation. He’s able to put together beautiful works of music and string them out seamlessly alongside the stories; subtley making you feel every emotion these characters are going through.

“Extraordinary Tales” is the perfect Halloween film to not only use to introduce your older kids to the works of Edgar Allen Poe, but to also give them that classic film they will always return to when the holiday is just around the corner. For those adults that watch this film, it will definitely make you feel like a kid again while also creeping you out.





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