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"Superb renderings...[Vincent Price and Basil Rathbone] know this material well...and know how to make it chill the listener. It's a romp for them and a delight for us." (AudioFile)
As mentioned by other reviewers: a. Price and Rathbone provide a masterful performance here, and b. the formatting is bad enough to render the recording almost unusable, especially to those not already intimately familiar with the works of Poe. I have little to add by way of review, but I took the time to create a table of contents that I hope will be of assistance to other listeners.
1.) 0:10 - 2:03 To -----
2.) 2:03 - 3:10 Alone
3.) 3:15 - 6:23 The City in the Sea
4.) 6:28 - 31:20 Berenice
5.) 31:25 - 55:28 The Fall of the House of Usher *
6.) 55:30 - 1:44:27 Ligeia
7.) 1:44:30 - 1:46:49 excerpt from The Fall of the House of Usher
8.) 1:46:55 - 2:18:43 The Pit and the Pendulum
9.) 2:18:46 - 2:35:27 The Masque of the Red Death
10.) 2:35:33 - 2:49:37 The Tell-Tale Heart
11.) 2:49:40 - 3:45:27 The Gold Bug
12.) 3:45:30 - 4:12:19 The Black Cat
13.) 4:12:25 - 4:20:58 The Raven
14.) 4:21:03 - 4:38:00 The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
15.) 4:38:01 - 4:54:07 The Cask of Amontillado
16.) 4:54:13 - 4:58:23 The Bells
17.) 4:58:28 - 5:00:35 Annabel Lee
18.) 5:00:40 - 5:01:19 Eldorado
19.) 5:01:25 - 5:16:00 The Imp of the Perverse
20.) 5:16:06 - 5:31:22 Morella
*Selection #5, "The Fall of the House of Usher" skips a section of verse (marked as I-VI in the text), along with approximately one page on either side of this section. The skip occurs at 40:57. Selection #7 is of the missing verse (I-VI), though without the other material excluded from #5. Selection #5 has additional abridgments - a paragraph here, a sentence or a word there. I have not found any further abridgments in the other selections; if you find any, please post the information in a review.
This is a case of perfect reader meeting a perfect text. If you like Poe, even if you have different recordings of his work, get this one! You'll appreciate the chilling and macabre TONE that the readers add to Poe's already creepy stories. My favorite: Imp of the Perverse.
Although the reading is performed in an exceptional manner, this collection is best suited for one very familiar with Poe's works. Many selections are less popular short stories. None have introductions or even a pause between the current and previous selection. You may require a text of the entire collected works of Poe on your lap while listening to understand what short story is read. Also, some (Fall of the House of Usher and others) are abridged. Tales of Terror narrated by Foreman may be a better choice.
There are many recordings of Poe's work -- ranging from the bland to the wildly overheated. This is the best, without paralell. Basil Rathbone and Vincent Price bring authority, wit and sensitivity to the tales and poems. These performers are not afraid to relish the juicy melodrama and they have the vocal equipment and training to make the language soar. I cannot recommend this highly enough. Oh, and by the way, the tales themselves are still scary, disturbing and haunting after all these years.
Classic narration for sure. Unfortunately the audio needs to be cleaned up, and edited so the listener can skip from story to story. As it is, one must fast-forward to move past a poem or story.
As previously stated, the reading is superb, but as a person who has never encountered more of Poe than the well known, "Quoth the raven, 'Nevermore'", I would have appreciated a clearer "packaging". There are no titles or significant story dividers. The narrator simply starts at the beginning and continues on. While listening, one can usually figure out where each story ends and another begins, but, if you're not familiar with the Poe material (like myself), you won't know which story you're listening to. Still worth it, but could be better.
The combination of voice with the macabre writings of Edgar Allan Poe are certainly a perfect combination; however, as previously noted, there are no titles prior to each narration. Also - and more importantly - for readers of Edgar Poe, this narration is NOT unabridged. Entire paragraphs are left out. It's still fantastic to listen to, but don't be deceived, it is an abridged version of many of the tales.
I grew up watching old horror movies on Saturday nights. Basil Rathbone was always Sherlock Holmes, and Vincent Price was some kind of mad scientist. I never realized how much vocal training they must have had during their careers -- it shows on this recording, one of the best I've ever heard (and I listen to a lot of recorded books.) Rathbone brings Poe's poetry to life, rather than let it lie tediously on the page ("The Bells.") Price makes accessible one of Poe's best stories, The Gold Bug, by absorbing and translating for a modern ear the page-long sentences of Poe's time.
I first heard this book on a tape borrowed from the library, and briefly considered "losing" it rather than returning it when the due date arrived because I wanted to keep it for myself. It's great to have it on my MP3 player now! I will never nod off on a long drive again. This stuff is better than caffeine.
The Gold Bug is remarkable because the main character is so unreliable. The narrator can't tell whether he is crazy or not, so you have no idea whether they will be successful at finding the treasure, or even whether there is any to be found at all; and then you still need to know how they knew where to look. It's an original, absorbing mystery, perfectly written.
Who hasn't heard Price on Michael Jackson's Thriller? He loves to chill your blood. Basil Rathbone Is absolutely mesmerizing in The Pit and the Pendulum, much more emotionally intense than his brainy portrayal of Holmes.
Both actors shine. It's a joy to watch them compete for best in show. Every time I listen to this book, I get to ask myself which one is better. And this is a book into which one can dip many times. Perhaps the one who shines most brightly is Poe. He is a national treasure. I question the editor's decision not to include some of his best stories in this collection, however (The Purloined Letter, The Murders in the Rue Morgue.) Perhaps the recording was made as a kind of lark, to see whether there would be any real audience for it. Or maybe it was made quickly, in preparation for a Halloween radio broadcast. The problem is, where are the actors today who can generate performances like these? I think Poe would be pleased with their work. They not only "get" him in spades, but they make him understandable to us, even through the thicket of his outdated English.
If you are a serious collector of recorded books, you should own this recording. I think it might be useful to English teachers who want to get their classes through a unit on Poe. Or for anyone who likes Halloween and has had enough of the Monster Mash.
Lover of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, mystery, and westerns in all media, including old-time radio dramatizations.
While I love the narration, this collection lacks clear breaks between individual works. The titles are not even stated. Unless you recognize these works, you won't have a clue what you are hearing. Very disappointing.
These recordings are awe-inspiring, really great performances. It's as if Poe was made for the stage, for the echo of the studio. I like to play this on Halloween and other dark occasions!
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