New movie mixes Edgar Allan Poe and 'torture porn'

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:09 PM EST

Edgar Allan Poe might have been the original "torture porn" author, writing stories about diabolical ways in which characters can die. An upcoming film called The Raven posits a story about what would happen if Poe were faced with the very murders he wrote about. In the movie, at the end of Poe's life, a serial killer challenges him to solve a series of killings inspired by Poe's fiction.

Director James McTeigue (V for Vendetta, Ninja Assassin) revealed some of the classic Poe stories that provide inspiration for his upcoming movie. "'The Raven,' 'Tell-Tale Heart,' 'Premature Burial,' 'Murders in the Rue Morgue,'" McTeigue listed in an exclusive interview Saturday in Hollywood. "There's a whole lot of them. It's actually a pretty cool concept."

What about "The Cask of Amontillado," in which a man bricks up his rival alive in a wall? "Yes, that's in there too," McTeigue said. "It's sort of Se7en meets a series of Poe stories. It's set in 1850s Baltimore, and it's about creating Poe's version of 1850s Baltimore, him moving through it. So it has a lot of the Poe stories interwoven into it."

Of course, the movie is a total work of fiction: The real Poe never solved any serial murders. But within his historical fantasy, McTeigue plans to present an accurate version of the author.

"It's a total fiction, but obviously Poe is, like, a well-known and much-beloved character," McTeigue said. "People know a lot about him, the way he was a bit of a rascal, the way he was a bit of drunkard, the way he married his 13-year-old cousin. He was penniless for most of his life. He touched on consumption, like a lot of people did then, so all those kind of real elements are bled into a fictionalized story."

The Poe of The Raven is 40, so McTeigue is casting actors in that age range. If you've seen pictures of Poe, you know it won't be George Clooney or Brad Pitt up for the role.

"No, I don't think they'd be the right choice," McTeigue said. "I think a lot of people in their mind's eye have a vision of how Poe should look. There's that kind of iconic photograph of him, where his head looks like a light bulb and his hair is out and he's got the little moustache, but he wasn't like that all the time. I want to pay service to that. Clooney and Pitt, they're good actors, but in my vision of it, they're not the people I'm thinking of."

McTeigue has already begun prepping The Raven and expects to begin shooting next year. "I've already done some initial location scouting," he said. "I'm in the middle of casting, and hopefully it'll get going by about mid-March."

What do you think of the mixing of real and fictional in The Raven?