Filming has finally begun for Mike Flanagan The fall of House Usher, an upcoming Netflix limited series that brings together two of America’s greatest masters of horror: Mike Flanagan and Edgar Allan Poe. While a premiere date has yet to be announced, horror fans are already gearing up for the show, which will adapt several as-yet-unknown plays from Poe’s diverse bibliography.
Adaptations of Poe’s work are rare, probably because many of his stories are short, self-contained, and feature little dialogue. But Flanagan has long proven his mastery of the macabre with his innovative interpretations of works by Stephen King, Shirley Jackson and others, making this upcoming series one of the most anticipated of 2022.
The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)
Stream on Netflix
Flanagan’s the second series for Netflix is based on The turn of the screw and other works by Henry James. In an interview Flanagan did for packaging, The Fall of House Usher will be much faster and explosive than its slow build Haunted anthology, but this series owes a lot to Poe.
While literal ghosts and hauntings are mostly absent from Poe’s writing, his protagonists often battle inner demons and feel the spiritual presence of deceased loved ones. The characters in The Haunting of Bly Manor are also haunted by their past – and Flanagan’s take on ghosts is unique and profound.
Black Mirror (2011 – 2019)
Stream on Netflix
This anthology series isn’t just beloved for its sci-fi elements – there’s plenty of horror throughout its 22 episodes. Themes and motifs common to both black mirror and Poe’s work encompasses obsession, madness, body horror, revenge, torture, and humanity’s impulse to destroy.
The best episodes of black mirror feature fast-paced narratives in which characters are forced into situations that test their mental toughness, something shared with Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” and “The Masque of the Red Death”. “
The Simpsons (1989 – )
Stream on Disney+
The iconic, long-running cartoon might seem like an odd choice – but no other TV show has satirized it so ably and paid tribute to Poe’s work. Writers have inserted references to the master of horror many times over the decades, but he’s Jhe simpsons‘ first Horror Treehouse episode that really stands out.
The third segment of the episode simultaneously parodies and honors Poe’s most famous work, “The Raven”. The animation’s sharp angles and shadows match the poem’s grim, sorrowful tone, and having James Earl Jones narrate was a stroke of genius; his fluency in language and powerful voice add gravitas to what could easily have been a cheap joke.
Twin Peaks (1990 – 1991)
Stream on Paramount+
Beneath its humorous and quirky facade, David Lynch’s surreal psychological thriller explores obsession, madness and, most importantly, the dark underbelly of the suburbs. It examines humanity’s most sadistic and violent impulses without giving its viewers an easy “why”.
The reasoning behind the cold-blooded murder in “The Tell-Tale Heart” is the narrator’s revulsion at his employer’s cataract. In “The Cask Of Amontillado”, an insult is punishable by death. This tradition of rendering the motivations of criminals bizarre and ambiguous is not only present in Twin peaks – this has become a popular trope in many modern horror movies and shows.
American Horror Story (2011 – )
Stream on Hulu
Although the anthology series american horror story may have lost touch in recent years, its early seasons were provocative, thrilling, heightened explorations of humanity’s capacity for terrible deeds.
The first season of the show, house of murder, combined weird horror with body horror and gave both a supernatural touch. But it’s the show’s desire to shock its audience that ties directly into Poe’s disturbing stories. And while later seasons lacked some aspects, the show’s production design has always been as visceral and dark as Poe’s detailed descriptions of its dark settings.
The Frankenstein Chronicles (2015 – 2017)
Not currently available to stream in the US
Based on Mary Shelley’s psychological thriller, this horror show set in 19th century London gave Sean Bean one of his best roles. He plays a detective who searches for answers after discovering a corpse amalgamated with many different human bodies.
Besides grotesque body horror and gothic vibes, The Frankenstein Chronicles features many characters who are outsiders and social outcasts. Poe was not interested in the mundane; his extreme characters were often outsiders who did not adhere to societal rules and expectations, such as the narrators of “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Black Cat”.
The sequel (2013 – 2015)
Stream on AMC+
This ephemeral series created by screams Kevin Williamson stars Kevin Bacon as a former FBI agent brought back to the agency to help investigate and then recapture an escaped serial killer who has gathered a cult following.
The show makes direct reference to Poe’s work, the serial killer persuading members of his cult (similar to the Manson family) to commit murders that echo events in his short stories. The writing is peppered with direct quotes from Poe’s poetry and stories, but it’s The following determination to make its viewers squirm which makes it the most Poe-esque.
The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
Stream on HBO Max
Flanagan’s first series for Netflix is arguably his scariest. The slow-building horror based on Shirley Jackson’s novel has big jump scares, creepy sequences and, like Bly Manor, Flanagan’s unique take on the ghosts. The spectacle is heightened and atmospheric, key qualities of all of Poe’s works.
The epic and horrifying climax that reveals what really happened to the twins and the children’s mother, Olivia, is a storyline that could have come straight from a Poe story. And similar to the family’s frantic flight from the house, the narrator of “Usher” flees the mansion just before it collapses into the dirt.
Penny Dreadful (2014 – 2016)
Stream on FuboTV
This gothic horror series borrows directly from characters and storylines created by Poe’s European contemporaries, writers he greatly admired. Social outcasts are common in his writing, likely because the orphaned and struggling poet was one himself for much of his life. Penny Dreadful’s the main characters are ambiguous, guilt-ridden outsiders who live outside of society’s reach.
The production design of the show gives the viewer a real sense of place, just as Poe did with his lush and comprehensive scenic descriptions. And while he primarily focused on the terrible deeds humans were capable of, there is definitely a supernatural element to his work.
Alfred Hitchcock presents (1955 – 1962)
Stream on Peacock
Edgar Allan Poe was not content to simply horrify his readers – he is often credited with writing the first mystery novel, “The Rue Morgue Murders”, whose main character would appear in Bailiff. Poe’s artistic descendant Alfred Hitchcock created this similarly genre-bending anthology series, infusing its episodes with drama, suspense, and mystery.
It is the episode “Lamb to the Slaughter”, based on a short story by Roald Dahl, that is most evocative of Poe’s style. The Dark Journey of Mary Maloney is a shocking, twisted and thrilling tale of revenge – and it’s also humorous, a quality of Poe often overlooked. She’s akin to the narrator of “The Tell-Tale Heart,” but without all that annoying guilt.
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