Baltimore hosts virtual dinner and movie with Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent Price

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Baltimore's Poe & Price tribute

Baltimore is eternally proud of Edgar Allan Poe, whose house and grave attract annual tourists and whose craft provided the namesake of the Super Bowl champion Ravens.

“I defy you to find another city in the world who reveres an author the way Baltimore loves Poe,” Poe Baltimore executive director Enrica Jang said. “He is everywhere, very much an icon in the city, very wrapped up in the identity of Baltimore. … We have the body. … Possession is 9/10 of the law. … The Master of Horror is buried here.”

This Saturday brings a special virtual tribute to Edgar Allan Poe and Vincent Price.

“This was going to be a live event, but this terrible [COVID] shadow has descended,” Jang said. “You pivot to digital, then we try to fling open the chamber door and let a whole bunch of people come and experience this. Rather than just an intimate dinner talking about old movies … now it’s going to be this virtual dinner and watch party.”

It kicks off at noon with a three-hour writing workshop by daughter Victoria Price.

“She is an incredible author and she does these wonderful writing workshops,” Jang said. “The workshop is called ‘The Price of Fear,’ so if there’s anybody out there that loves horror, writing horror, maybe a little bit of poetry, even screenwriting … that workshop is just sort of talking about getting past our fears, especially at this time.”

After the workshop, you can join a virtual tour of Poe’s grave at Westminster Hall.

“[We’re] doing a meditation in the cemetery, so very spooky,” Jang said. “People have ideas of Poe as this tortured artist, but there was a lot of method behind the madness. At the same time, he did have a lot of tragedy. He lost his parents very young. … He lost his brother and his first love, his wife, to terrible diseases. … A lot of adversity.”

After the grave tour, you can enjoy an interactive cooking lesson at 6 p.m.

“At the end of his life, Vincent Price was a gourmand and very interested in food and wine and wrote a series of very famous cookbooks,” Jang said. “The chef at Lord Baltimore Hotel … is going to give a cooking demonstration and share with our audience how to cook some of the recipes from Vincent Price’s famous cookbooks.”

It all culminates with a 60th anniversary screening of Roger Corman’s campy horror classic “House of Usher” (1960), starring Price in cinema’s best Poe adaptation.

“It’s set in this really gloomy mansion with all of these echoing chambers,” Jang said. “We’ll all start the movie at the same time and you can follow along on social media or you can join our webinar and play some trivia while the movie is playing.”

It wraps with a closing trivia session at 9:30 p.m.

“We’ll have a couple of prizes,” Jang said. “Price was the king of horror. You see him in Michael Jackson through his incredible voice in the ‘Thriller’ video, you see him in ‘Edward Scissorhands.’ … Victoria [will share] stories about her parents. Her mother was also a costume designer in these movies and that’s how her parents got together.”

Tickets cost $25 for all of the events or just $10 for the film screening.

It all benefits Poe Baltimore, a nonprofit organization created to fund and maintain the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum at West Fayette Street and North Amity Street.

“Poe House has reopened on a very limited basis through reservations only,” Jang said. “Every Thursday through Sunday, you can go to our website [and] you can book a visit to that Poe House if you’d like. I’m hoping again that we all get through this and we’ll be able to fling open the doors again and just welcome people back.”

Until then, Poe Baltimore is hanging in there virtually. Since March, it has welcomed more than 500 virtual visitors from as far away as Brazil, Romania and Scotland.

“He did become famous in his lifetime,” Jang said. “Fame did not equal fortune, but he was very, very famous. As a result of that, when he died, because of that celebrity, a lot of rumors swirled about Poe and a lot of misinformation really took hold in the public imagination. So, a misunderstood genius in many ways, but a genius nonetheless.”

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