Friday, April 27, 2012

Raven Variations

Well, the new movie The Raven starring John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe has been panned by critics (as I suspected it would be after watching the trailer), which means I won't be going to see it in theaters.  This one will have to be a wait-for-the-Netflix-DVD.  So instead of a film review today, I offer the following video clip in which the legendary Vincent Price brings Poe's most famous poem to life:

Also, for a modern, American Gothic riff on "The Raven," be sure to check out my story "Midnights Drearier" (available as an ebook from Damnation Books).  Here are the opening paragraphs of the piece:

Clad black as tonight’s moonless vault, Deadeye Eddie shimmies his way up into the denuded tree.  His slung rifle taps his shoulder as he climbs, while the scales of bark sloughing from the barrel-wide trunk further remind him of the task at hand.  Without investing especial significance in the fact, Eddie recalls that the plague on Eldon Richter’s farm started with this very oak.

The story circulating through Allanton all week has old Eldon ambling out onto his porch early last Friday morning, then stopping to crack the night’s sleep out of his back as he surveys his property.  But even before his bespectacled eyes can adjust to the dawn, Eldon senses something wrong.  Something different about this same vista he’s studied every morning for the past twenty-seven years.  He steps off his porch for a much-needed closer view, and soon fixes upon the great oak rooted about twenty-five yards in front of the house.  The crinkled foliage overhead looks absolutely leeched of chlorophyll, reminding Eldon of those old horror movies where some terrible shock whitens a character’s hair.  Seasonal change couldn’t possibly be the culprit here, only a week into September.  Also, Eldon’s seen trees die before and knows the process is gradual at best, not something that occurs overnight.  As he stands there groping for explanation, a blast of wind reaches the tree—and disintegrates the former greenery.  The leaves crumble like the skin of a desiccated corpse; seconds later only the brown-branched skeleton remains.  Damnedest thing he’s ever seen, Eldon swears, unaware that he’ll have to revise that assessment repeatedly in the coming days.

For a whole week now, the weird happenings out at the Richter place have seasoned Allanton’s otherwise bland existence.   But tonight—Thursday melding once more into Friday—Deadeye Eddie plans to put an end to the whole mad mystery.  Come midnight, the blight upon Eldon’s land is going to be blasted right out of the raven sky.

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