Studio: Brain Damage Films
Original DVD Release: November 21, 2012 (Italy)
DVD Release: May 6, 2014 (USA)
Review by Vidal Granandos
Poe: Project of Evil allows several different directors to give their take on classic Edgar Allen Poe stories.
Stories include “The Pit and the Pendulum” “Alone” “Loss of Breath” “Morgue Street” “The Tell Tale Heart” “The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof Fether” and “The Premature Burial”. For the sake of this review, I will be talking about three stories: The Pit and the Pendulum, Loss of Breath and The Premature Burial.
Poe: Project of Evil starts off with Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum.” Directors Donatello Della Pepa and Cristiano Morroni show a man waking up in an all white room. Not sure what he is doing there or for how long he’s been there, he slowly goes insane. Minutes turn to days. His hair grows long only to wake up shaved. He tries to count the length of the room but the size is never truly figured out. He bites his nails until he bleeds. All the while someone is recording his behavior though we never know who’s doing it. Finally after weeks of torture, whomever is conducting this experiment moves on to phase two. A black hole opens in the middle of the floor. Too scared to jump in, the man throws his shirt to measure distance. The shirt disappears quickly leaving the man more uncertain if he should jump in. Then a nasty demon pops out of the dark abyss, who looks exactly like the rock band Disturbed’s mascot. The demon stabs his long finger nails into the prisoner’s eyes only to find out the man stabbed his own eyes.
“The Pit and the Pendulum” was a pretty decent opening story. There’s not much dialogue other then the man screaming in fear asking what’s the purpose for all this. You are intrigued to know why he is in this room. Once you understand he is being experimented on, you want to know why and if he’ll ever escape. Unfortunately, it is too short to give you full context of the story as the original story had to do more with religious figures forcing people into their beliefs or be tortured otherwise. However, to make the demon look exactly like the Disturbed mascot “The Guy” was a nice touch.
Edo Tagliavini’s “Loss of Breath” is not a short story for everyone, but the way the filmmaker conveyed the story is well done. For starters, it’s a black and white silent film. The story begins with lawyer Giovanni (Alessandro Valori) talking to an adult film actor Francesco (Francesco Malcom). The actor is in trouble because he slept with the wrong man’s wife while also touting the mobster Manero has a “dwarf cock.” The lawyer warns him he should be more careful as the mobster is looking for his revenge. The flamboyant Francesco brushes off the warning and heads to film his next sex scene. When reaches the climax of his hot scene, it’s so epic that he loses the ability to talk. Imagine that, greatest orgasm in the world. So great you lose your voice! Once this happens, Francesco’s dialogue is narrated through voiceover while all the other characters still communicate through text. I love that the director used this direction and style. Sure enough, Francesco’s luck gets worse as some of Manero’s goons pay him a visit. They torture Francesco while telling him to admit Manero doesn’t have a small penis. Since Francesco can’t talk, he can’t admit such things. Let’s just say it ends bad for everybody.
Again “Loss of Breath” isn’t for everybody but the director deserves praise for the way the material is approached. I loved that it’s part silence film, then part narration. Though the short film is mostly black and white, there is color for things such as blood and images on TV. This is a short about a man who does act in adult films, so there is an aggressive sex scene and the dismemberment of genitals.
“The Premature Burial” is the last short on the DVD and is directed by Giuliano Giacomelli. A man wakes up in a wooden box and only has a lighter for comfort. He scratches and crawls on the roof until his finger tips bleed. It is just like Uma Thurman is Kill Bill and just like in Kill Bill, the man does the 2-inch punch to break through the box. By the time the man reaches the surface, he is confused as to where he is at. As the man walks the camera pans around to his back revealing a huge gap in his head. The man is dead. Slowly other people rise from their graves.
There’s not much else to say about this story other than the music was okay. When the man wakes up, it starts off eerie only to turn into a more somber tone once everyone rises from the dead. “The Premature Burial” was the best way to end the film as it’s a very short but well done story.
Overall, Poe: Project of Evil was an okay film to watch. There are seven stories included on the disc and each story is relatively short. It’s interesting to see each director’s different take on classic Edgar Allen Poe work. The quality of each pieces are well done. There is something of everything for everyone, especially gore. Is each short great? No. There are plenty weird moments and the films are too short to give the audience full context on to what is going on. However, if you have read these stories before, then you may get more enjoyment since you understand what is going on in the scenes. It’s always interesting to see how someone interprets a famous story. If you are not familiar with Poe’s literature work then you may be lost as to what is going on in each scene.