There are few Poe films that I haven’t seen. Being a fan of his work, I love to see any of the films “based” on his stories. I say that in quotes because so few are. Poe films are more based on his themes and character names, nothing more, always Lenore, the eternal lost love, and sometimes Morella, the dying mother. One film however, give you them both in a decent gothic stew. 1990’s The Haunting of Morella.
This odd film begins with the execution of a young woman suspected of witchcraft. Her name was Morella. Her husband is forced to watch as she is killed for her crimes. Was she really guilty? Let’s put it this way, she was caught preparing to sacrifice her own daughter, Lenore. She was very ckly and turned to the occult for immortality. Why is it that the quest for immortality usually leads to death? The baby did grow up and on her eighteenth birthday, young Lenore is to come into her inheritance.
However, now that she is coming of age, her body is dered my many, and not all for sex.
Morella has a lot of great imagery. From the dark candle lit manon to the rotting blood splattered corpse of Morella herself. The film is not particularly gruesome but is heavy on the gothic imagery and of course, the sexuality.
If the pacing and over all style seems reminiscent of the 1960’s Poe adaptions, that should come as no surprise, the film was produced by Roger Corman himself. That alone in this case, makes the film worth seeking out in spite of its reputation. I think a lot of its dismissal comes from the fact that it was directed by Jim Wynorski, not a popular director by any means. It is definitely a little too loose in some areas but has great imagery, some truly nightmarish sequences.
The cast doesn’t hurt either. Beautiful Nicole Eggert plays both Morella and her daughter Lenore. Though young at the time, she handles the duo roles well enough and presents herself as both innocent possessed daughter and a vengeful sexual witch.
The late Lana Clarkson is wickedly evil and it helps that at 6’ tall, she brings a serious presence. She is a sexual being without pushing it to the point of ridiculousness.
Like I said, it has atmosphere, thanks to the production degn. There isn’t a lot of showy sets but they’re effective and the crypt of Morella is a stand out!
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With all the found footage quickies and horribly executed teen slashers coming out every year, you would do yourself some good checking out this lost Poe film. It’s not perfect, but its fun. After all, we all need more of that in our lives.
Other Horrific Mungs:
The truth about Lenore: The Spectre Of Edgar Allan Poe (1974)
Danse Macabre (1964)