Wednesday, July 18, 2007

MASTERS OF HORROR: THE BLACK CAT

Jeffrey Combs gives a tour de force performance as Edgar Allan Poe for frequent collaborator Stuart Gordon (RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND, CASTLE FREAK) as the acclaimed horror director takes his second stab (after 1991’s THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM) at the works of the tortured American author, with MASTERS OF HORROR: THE BLACK CAT (2007).

Working with frequent writing partner Dennis Paoli, Gordon has deftly combined elements of Poe’s own real life with the events of the famous short story. The result is a nightmarish descent into madness. I don’t want to give a synopsis here: to do so would betray some of the short film’s best surprises, but I will say that even with the liberties taken, it may be the most faithful adaptation of the Poe classic ever committed to film.

Atmospherically shot by Jon Joffin, THE BLACK CAT has the look and feel of a Val Lewton B&W horror classic (specifically, THE BODY SNATCHER), with the only vivid color being the red of blood. And there’s plenty of that, as Gordon gleefully indulges his flair for gore. The make-up job on Combs is excellent; the likeness to Poe is amazing. Performances are excellent across the board, with Elyse Levesque’s sensitive and moving portrayal of Virginia Poe being of special note.

THE BLACK CAT comes to DVD in a perfect 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with Dolby 5.1 Surround sound.

As usual, Starz/Anchor Bay has provided a plethora of bonus material, including a couple of "Making Of" featurettes, a great commentary track by Gordon and Combs, a photo gallery, and trailers for other MASTERS OF HORROR titles.

As a fan of Stuart Gordon’s work in the genre, I loved it. Recommended.

BUY: Masters of Horror - The Black Cat