Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ranking on Rankin and Bass, and rating Poe's best

Not much to add today, just a few links to point out that I've found interesting.

Over at Black Gate, Ryan Harvey posted a very thorough review of the old Rankin and Bass production of The Return of the King. It's certainly the most comprehensive look at this film that I've encountered. I only wish I was half as fond of the film as Harvey was. There are a few scenes from The Return of the King that I enjoy and found to be well-done (I agree with Harvey's assessment of the Witch King and Eowyn confrontation, and also wish Peter Jackson included more of Tolkien's dialogue. And John Huston does voice the best Gandalf ever). But, overall, I deem Return of the King a pretty poor film, much worse than the flawed, but worth owning and watching, Rankin and Bass version of The Hobbit.

I tried watching Return of the King back-to-back with Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings a while back, and actually thought that The Return of the King suffers in comparison (and I'm no fan of Bakshi). Also, Return of the King fails as a "sequel" to Bakshi's film since it doesn't even pick up in the right spot. Ah well.

Over at The Cimmerian, Steve Tompkins has penned a nice 200 year birthday tribute to Edgar Allan Poe. I really must take note of these important dates as I always seem to forget about literary dignitaries like Poe, J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, etc, when their birthdays roll around (but as long as I remember my wife and kids,' I'm okay).

Anyhow, Poe is one of my favorite authors and resides firmly in the top three of my "horror trinity," which also includes H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King. If forced to pick a favorite Poe story I'd have to go with The Masque of the Red Death, of which every word rings as poetry and contains one of the best closing sentences I can recall from any story ("And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.") But for chills its hard to top the suffocating brick-by-terrible-brick conclusion of The Cask of Amontillado, which left me with a terrifying visual that has remained seared into my imagination ever since.


James Maliszewski said...

The Rankin-Bass Return of the King is indeed terrible, but it has a few moments that are memorable, including the Eowyn/Witch-king scene, which blows Peter Jackson's version out of the water for drama and fidelity to the source material (not that that's hard, mind you).

Mr Baron said...


(that might be a bit harsh, but it is really bad)

Now, I actually enjoyed reading the review by Ryan over at The Black Gate.

Brian Murphy said...

James: You probably explain it somewhere over at Grognardia, but where did you get that awesome helmet?

Mr. Baron: Agreed on both counts.