Friday, September 4, 2009

Time to get classy...


What could be more classy than James Mason narrating my favorite Edgar Allan Poe short "The Tell-Tale Heart?" I say that is my favorite but I love them all so very much.. Especially "The Black Cat" which still gives me nightmares (rare non-zombie nightmares...) What I love about "The Tell-Tale Heart" is that is gets scarier with every reading. I read it for the first time when I was maybe 12 or 13, and all I knew of horror was "Frankenstein" and "Night of the Living Dead." Well, I also knew "Last house on the Left" and "I Spit on your Grave" but that is another post.. I remember thinking at the time that the thing with the milky eye and the fact that the narrator could still hear the beating of the dead man's heart was pretty freaky, but beyond that... well, where were the zombies? The Ax-murderers? The Gore?

Jump to ten years later. In college, no doubt putting off working on my thesis, I re-read the tale. Wow, I forgot there was actual dismemberment in this short. And dark, dark humor. And tension... The whole act of peeking in on the old man every night, slowly sticking the head in through the door, turning on the lantern so that just a sliver of light hits the soon to be dead man's milky eye...

Now, ten years on (this makes me 42?) I read the tale again, this time while on my lunch break. Who am I kidding, I read it while working. It was slow. Actual heart palpitations and cold sweats. "The Tell-Tale Heart" is about madness and terror. Not horror, but actual terror, both the narrators and the old mans. The scariest part for me is the period between the old man hearing a noise in his room and bolting upright, and the actual murder. Poe makes you not only feel the terror that the old man is feeling, but also the nervous anticipation and insanity of the nameless killer. The fact that the narrator swears he is sane is all the more chilling. It makes you question your own sanity. I didn't understand this when I was younger. The "Tell-Tale Heart" is a story that becomes all the more terrifying with age and wisdom.

What else is more terrifying with age and wisdom? The films of Mr. Rob Zombie. Terrifyingly bad. I am off to see H2 today. I don't know why either...

1 comment:

Cellar Door said...

I read it when I was 13 or so, and didn't understand it at all. Perhaps, when I am 42 like you, I will understand it better! I should re-read it before then, though. Sounds good.