MCM: Edgar Allan Poe


Writer and poet Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) is a Halloween favorite for good reason. The macabre is a prominent theme in his work, and his own life was suffused with tragedy. Orphaned, always struggling with money and debt, and an alcoholic, Poe wrote iconic stories like The Fall of the House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, and The Masque of the Red Death during his mere 40 years, along with memorable poems, most notably “The Raven.” Many of these have inspired movies and TV shows, and every so often Poe shows up as a character to introduced his own work. More rare are on-screen biographies, and unfortunately he’s mostly gotten a horror-show version instead of anything very historically accurate. But in honor of the spooky season, let’s give the original literary goth boy his Man Candy Monday due!

1849 - retouched photo of Edgar Allan Poe




Herbert Yost aka Barry O’Moore in Edgar Allen Poe (1909)

Herbert Yost in Edgar Allen Poe (1909)

This 6-minute silent film is more of a biographic sketch of Poe, but Yost appears in what will become the classic “Poe” look.



Henry B. Walthall in The Raven (1915)

Henry B. Walthall, The Raven (1915)

Another silent film, but 57 minutes, and covering more of Poe’s life story, trying to show the inspiration for the eponymous poem.

Henry B. Walthall, The Raven (1915)

And going for the drunken crazed Poe angle.



Shepperd Strudwick in The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe (1942)

Shepperd Strudwick, The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe (1942)

With Mary Howard as Poe’s adoptive mother, Frances Allan. This feature film tries to paint Poe as a romantic hero, spurned by his first great love & misunderstood as a poet.

Shepperd Strudwick, The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe (1942)

With Linda Darnell as Poe’s wife, Virginia Clemm, who will tragically die, leaving Poe alone.



Joseph Cotten in The Man with a Cloak (1951)

Joseph Cotten, The Man with a Cloak (1951)

The “secret” of this noir thriller set in 1848 is that the main character is actually Edgar Allan Poe.



Silvano Tranquilli in Castle of Blood (1964)

Silvano Tranquilli, Castle of Blood (1964)

In this Italian horror flick, Poe recounts his stories as actual supernatural events.



Hedger Wallace in Torture Garden (1967)

Hedger Wallace, Torture Garden (1967)

One story in this horror anthology flick features a Poe fan who has the poet himself in his collection.



Bruce Karcher in Gas-s-s-s (1970)

Bruce Karcher, Gas-s-s-s (1970)

It’s a wacky hippie apocalyptic road movie where Edgar Allan Poe shows up on a motorcycle with Lenore. It’s a gas, man!



Klaus Kinski in Web of the Spider aka Nella stretta morsa del ragno (1971)

Klaus Kinski, Web of the Spider aka Nella stretta morsa del ragno (1971)

A remake of Castle of Blood, though here Edgar Allan Poe narrates the story.



Robert Walker Jr. in The Spectre of Edgar Allan Poe (1974)

Robert Walker Jr., The Spectre of Edgar Allan Poe (1974)

OMG this is a cheap bad flick that randomly has Poe running around an asylum.



Seymour Matthews in Dickens of London, “Nightmare” (1976)

Seymour Matthews, Dickens of London (1976)

In one episode of this Charles Dickens miniseries, the two writers meet.

Seymour Matthews, Dickens of London (1976)

It’s not a bad characterization of Poe, but I’m thrown off by his English accent. Poe was raised in Virginia, so I’d expect more of a Southern American accent.



Jeffrey Combs in Masters of Horror, “The Black Cat” (2007)

Jeffrey Combs, Masters of Horror, (2007)

Set in Philadelphia 1840, this TV episode suggests that the black cat of Poe’s wife Virginia inspired the story of the same name.



Ben Chaplin in Twixt (2011)

Ben Chaplin, Twixt (2011)

The main character in this horror film encounters Poe in a dream.



John Cusack in The Raven (2012)

The Raven 2012

My high-school dream-boyfriend looks like the perfect Edgar Allan Poe.

John Cusack, The Raven (2012)

But this movie is a huge disappointment — neither a solid biopic of the author nor an enjoyable horror flick.

John Cusack, The Raven (2012)

Just a dull mishmash :( :( :(



Daniel DiTomasso in Witches of East End, “Poe Way Out” (2014)

Daniel DiTomasso, Witches of East End (2014)

In this Lifetime Channel TV series episode, the witches explore their past lives & find that one of them banged Poe. As you do.



Jesse Plemons in Drunk History, “Baltimore” (2014)

Jesse Plemons, Drunk History (2014)

Telling the real story of the feud between Edgar Allan Poe & Rufus Griswold, plus booze!




Who’s your favorite Edgar Allan Poe on-screen?

8 Responses

  1. Jillian

    He also appeared in an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The aunts summoned him to read some of his works for Halloween, but were….. disappointed with the results.

  2. Boxermom

    Yes to Torture Garden! I watch this a couple of times a year, mostly to see Burgess Meredith and Jack Palance chew the scenery. :)

  3. M.E. Lawrence

    I had no idea there were so many versions of Poe slinking around the screen. Joseph Cotten was an interesting choice.

  4. Bel

    Gotta love Drunk History. Also shoutout to Sean Persaud’s version of Poe in ‘Edgar Allen Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party’ on YouTube. That one’s a lot of fun!

  5. Elizabeth Kerri Mahon

    You didn’t mention Denis O’Hare as Poe who is pictured at the top of the post.

  6. Lily Lotus Rose

    Ok, I watched ALL of the episodes of The Witches of East End, in large part due to Daniel DiTomasso’s hotness. So, how did I forget the whole Poe interlude?!?! The Raven was soooo disappointing. The only thing I liked in that movie was Luke Evans’s butt looking soooo good in those trousers! It was worth paying to see it on the big screen just for that. Out of all these screencaps, the Ben Chaplin one and the one at the top look the most intriguing and promising.