“The Death of Poe” 3 disc set is interesting because of two things. The first is that almost anything related to Edgar Allan Poe is going to be worth watching. The man was fascinating, and I would contend that he is the true founder of goth, as his life story is nothing but goth in tone. The second thing that makes this set interesting is director/star Mark Redfield’s devotion to the literary master.
Besides the main feature (“The Death of Poe”), there’s an audio CD of Poe’s poems and tales read by Redfield, a making of featurette for the main film, two other featurettes, 1914’s “The Avenging Conscience” and the 1915 version of “The Raven” with optional commentary. That’s an extensive Poe package, but the main draw is going to be its feature.
On the surface, “The Death of Poe” is a marginal film. Shot in both black and white and color, it attempts to make the writer’s final days a feverish dream of his loves and desires. It also features an account of Poe (Redfield) trying to find backers for a magazine he wanted to start. It is those scenes where Redfield shines. He makes Poe a likable and haunted character who is displaying signs of mental illness even as he begs for money while trying to retain his dignity. If the film could have focused more on those aspects it would have been far more compelling. Instead, a great portion of this film is spent in a delirium meant to mimic Poe’s state of mind as he drifts closer to death. It almost works.
This film is made by a Poe addict for Poe fans. It won’t please casual moviegoers with no interest in Poe, as they will find that the film wanders too much and at times has acting on par with a Lifetime special. If you are willing to ignore that, however, you will find a film that is sometimes very engaging made by a man who has nothing but respect for the father of modern horror … and goth.