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WriteOutLoud, in connection with the San Diego Public Library, wraps up their month long celebration, The Big Read - Shades of Poe with screenings of two classic big screen adaptations of the Master's short stories, House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum.

The mission of WriteOutLoud is to "inspire, challenge and entertain by reading short stories aloud for a live audience." The only thing I read aloud is subtitles while watching a foreign film, and on top of that there's my frequent rising intonation pattern that tends to drive listeners up a wall.

Instead of taking a books-on-tape approach, the group thought it best that I focus my words of praise on two legendary storytellers, Edgar Allan Poe and Roger Corman. Inspired by a string of successful horror pictures produced by England's Hammer Films, Corman teamed with shock guru Vincent Price on a series of 8 visually sumptuous Poe adaptations for the otherwise cost-effective grindhouse supplier American International Pictures.

Normally the first to complain about screening movies on DVD, in the case of Corman's Poe-Cycle (all of the color installments were shot on unstable, quick to fade Eastman stock) it's unlikely you'd find decent prints. The films haven't looked this good since they premiered.

Join me this Sunday afternoon and Monday evening at the San Diego Central Library, 820 E Street, for a pair of diabolical tales of terror. The Pit and the Pendulum screens Sunday afternoon at 2 pm, followed by a Monday evening showing of House of Usher, the first entry in Corman's Poe-Cycle, at 6:30 pm. Admission is free.


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