Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Weird Tales on Film

Weird Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nathaniel Hawthorne died a century and a half ago, yet the works of his imagination live on, not only in print but also on film and video. The magazine Weird Tales reprinted eight of Hawthorne's stories. At least four of those stories have also been adapted to film. One was made into an animated movie. Surprisingly, the story "Feathertop" (Weird Tales, Apr. 1938) has been one of the most filmed, with versions from 1912, 1916, 1923, 1955, 1961, 1972, and 2000. The first three were theatrical releases, the second three were adaptations for television, and the last one was an animated feature which went straight to video. "Young Goodman Brown" (Weird Tales, May 1927) has also received several screen treatments, in 1959, 1972, and 1993, as has "Rappaccini's Daughter" (Weird Tales, May 1928), in 1951, 1954, 1963, and 1972. Finally, "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment" (Weird Tales, Aug. 1925) was adapted to television in 1950 and to the silver screen in 1963.

In 1963, MGM released an anthology of Hawthorne's tales in Twice-Told Tales, starring Vincent Price. Also in the cast were Sebastian Cabot and Beverly Garland. Twice-Told Tales featured three sequences, "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment," "Rappaccini's Daughter," and "The House of the Seven Gables." Only "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment" originally appeared in Hawthorne's book Twice-Told Tales. "Rappaccini's Daughter" was first published in Mosses from an Old Manse, while The House of the Seven Gables was a book in itself. Vincent Price was the star of all three sequences.

The anthology format was popular at the time, especially in the genres of fantasy and horror. Roger Corman had kicked things off in 1962 by combining four stories by Edgar Allan Poe into three sequences for his Tales of Terror. Vincent Price also starred in that film. Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965), The Illustrated Man (1969), the pilot movie for Rod Serling's Night Gallery (1969), The House That Dripped Blood (1970), and the unforgettable Trilogy of Terror (1975) continued the trend. One possible source of the anthology film was of course the fiction magazine, specifically, the pulp fiction magazine. You might say that the horror anthology movie is simply Weird Tales on film.

Nathaniel Hawthorne's stories from the nineteenth century were adapted to film in the twentieth.
The adaptations continued when Twice-Told Tales the movie was adapted to a comic book.
Hawthorne's "Feathertop" was also adapted to film, this time as the animated movie The Scarecrow, from 2000. According to the Internet Movie Database, this is the most recent movie adaptation of a story by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

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