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An animated anthology of 5 stories adapted from Edgar Allan Poe.

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Extraordinary Tales movie full length review - An excellent way to introduce kids to E.A. Poe!

I'm an unashamed fan of Edgar Allan Poe ... I admit it freely. I've visited every one of his houses in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Richmond, and I have a huge collection of audio readings and film adaptations of his work.

When I first got wind of this film and some of the voices connected with it (Sir Christopher Lee and, joy of unexpected joys! Bela Lugosi), I couldn't wait until the release date.

Now it is here.

Now I've seen it ... and I'm very pleased.

Not delighted or overjoyed, but pleased.

I have to admit that compared with other animated versions of Poe's work "Extraordinary Tales" is a little lightweight. I was surprised to see quite a lot of kids in the audience of the showing I went to (it took me quite a while to find a theater in my home city where it was showing since the film is currently in limited release), but after having seen the film I can honestly say that this is a great way to expose kids to Poe for the first time. I was prepared for the different animation styles of each of the five stories included in the film, but I was pleasantly surprised that the stories are enclosed by a pastel-animated framing story involving a talking raven (voiced by Stephen Hughes, and I won't tell you who the raven really is!) and the unseen voice of Death (wonderfully performed by Cornelia Funke).

As to the stories themselves, here they are in my order of preference: 1) "The Tell-Tale Heart" (narrated by Bela Lugosi); 2) "The Masque of the Red Death" (no narrator); 3) "The Pit and the Pendulum" (narrated by Guillermo del Toro); 4) "The Fall of the House of Usher" (narrated by Sir Christopher Lee); 5) "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" (narrated by Julian Sands)

I chose "Tell-Tale Heart" as Number One not only because of Lugosi's wonderful narration but also because of the black-and-white animation style used. "Masque of the Red Death" has no narration (except for one line delivered by the famous director of Poe films Roger Corman), but the animation style used here reminds me a lot of Ralph Bakshi's style in his film version of "The Lord of the Rings", very beautiful and flowing. I don't know if "Pit and the Pendulum" is actually CGI, but it seemed that way to me, and del Toro's narration has a wonderful velvety gruffness that makes the listener believe that the narrator is an old man remembering his experience (and I was intrigued by the twist given to the story). The highlight of "House of Usher" is, of course, the wonderful narration done by Sir Christopher Lee and the house and background are beautifully chilling, but the animation of the characters is a little too reminiscent of Minecraft figures and the story is a little too abbreviated (but this too has a wonderful and shocking twist!). As for "Valdemar", the animation is a little too comic-book-like for me, but the on-screen character of the narrator has (to my delight) more than a slight resemblance to Vincent Price!

I will definitely add "Extraordinary Tales" to my collection should it ever be released on DVD, and I also definitely recommend it to other Poe admirers and to parents who want to introduce their kids to Poe ... there'll be plenty of time for them to become truly addicted (as I was and am) to the unabridged and more horrific versions ... if they (and you) dare!