30th Mar2014

‘POE: Project of Evil’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Cristiano Morroni, Dario Biancone, Angelo Campus, Santa De Santis, Francesco Malcom, Paolo Ricci, Alessandro Rella, Federica Tommasi, Desiree Giorgetti, Mario Cellini, Roberto Nali, David D’Ingeo, Virgilio Olivari, Claudio Zanelli, Lucio Zannella | Written and Directed by Donatello Della Pepa, Angelo & Giuseppe Capasso, Edo Tagliavini, Alberto Viavattene, Nathan Nicholovitch, Domiziano Cristopharo, Giuliano Giacomelli

poe-project-of-evil

Yet another release from Brain Damage Films, POE: Project of Evil is a horror anthology, this time of a higher calibre than the likes of the recently reviewed Dead on Appraisal. A follow-up to P.O.E.: Poetry of Eerie, this film sees some of the original filmmakers regroup for another filmic experiment which brings the tales of Edgar Allan Poe to life through the distinct lens of Italian horror with spoken English. Whilst Poetry of Eerie‘s focus was the poetic and macabre dimension of the infamous Boston author, the sequel POE: Project of Evil focuses instead on the bloody, violent and disturbing. Stories include ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’, ‘Solo’, ‘Loss of Breath’, ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’, ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’, ‘The System of Dr. Tar and Prof. Feather’ and ‘The Premature Burial’

The official synopsis of POE: Project of Evil dubs this a “filmic experiment” and that statement couldn’t be more true. Each short is a wildly different take on an Edgar Allan Poe story – from the stark black and white of Loss of Breath to the giallo-esque Solo. I can honestly say these takes on Poe’s classic stories are unlike ANY you have ever seen before, or ever will again. And many leave nothing to the imagination…

Absolutely nothing.

Case in point – this version of Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue sees a man’s “pet” monkey sneaking into a apartment after his owner has finished having his way with one of the pair of prostitutes residing there – slicing up one’s face and breasts before deep-throating her dying body. As if that wasn’t enough the monkey proceeds to anally rape the second prostitute before being rudely interrupted by his returning owner; and the audience is spared no blushes when it comes to the monkeys actions – giant “elephant” cock and all!

Then there’s The Tell-Tale Heart, turned into the story of a homeless man who flees to Thailand and starts a new life as a ladyboy – even if he has to chop off his own penis first. Or Loss of Breath, with it’s porn star protagonist having his penis cut off and living to tell the tale… See where I’m going with this? Thinking about it, there’s a hell of a lot of penis mutilation in this flick!

Of course this being an Italian horror film there had to be some reference to the classic Italian horror output of the 80s and thankfully it doesn’t disappoint… The idea to re-write Poe’s The Premature Burial as a Fulci-esque zombie story is a stroke of sheer genius; and to echo of the classic synth scores of the decade in the short, as well as feature some great, “familiar” looking zombies, even more so.

As I mentioned when reviewing Brain Damage Films’ other horror anthology Dead on Appraisal, I was not expecting too much from POE: Project of Evil. I certainly wasn’t expecting to see some of the most interesting, if extreme, adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories ever committed to celluloid. Admittedly not all of the shorts in this anthology work as well as the others – the opener, which is an odd “scientific” take on The Pit and The Pendulum is easily the weakest of the seven tales in this film – but together these seven tales of terror breathe new life into Poe’s work, bringing the classic stories into the modern era, offering a new context in which his tales can be read.

It’s safe to say POE: Project of Evil will never likely see the light of day on UK shores and certainly not in an uncut format such as this – the films blunt, often in your face, combination of sex & violence and extreme, often nihilistic, imagery will undoubtedly have the British censors up in arms!

So with that being said I urge you to buy a copy of P.O.E: Project of Evil when its released in the US on May 6th.

***** 5/5

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