Lugosi Resurrected in Toon Tale

As Dracula in Universal’s classic horror pic, Bela Lugosi rose from his coffin nightly to stalk his prey. Now the late Hungarian actor is reaching out from beyond the grave to send chills up viewers’ spines in a new Spanish animated short based on Edgar Allan Poe’s classic horror story, The Tell-Tale Heart.

Before he died in 1956, Lugosi recorded an audio rendition of The Tell-Tale Heart, which was thought to be lost. Director Raul Garcia has incorporated the found footage into his computer-animated adaptation of the tale of a murderer who is haunted by the beating of his victim’s heart.

The black-and-white film is inspired by the artwork of Argentinean illustrator Alberto Breccia. "I’m trying to pay homage to all the artists who influenced me when I was growing up," explains Garcia. "Lugosi, Breccia, Hitchcock, the world of Milton Canniff and the horror magazines Creepy and Eerie — in a sense they’re all there, represented in the film."

"It’s a highly personal project I’ve been preparing for more than 20 years," Garcia comments. "Fortunately for me, I was lucky enough to find in Lugosi the perfect voice for the film." In his quest to cast the film’s narrator, Garcia says he originally approached Vincent Price during what would prove to be the late horror icon’s last visit to Spain.

The project was put on the back burner as Garcia went to Hollywood in 1991, working as an animator for Disney on such blockbusters as Aladdin, The Lion King and Pocahontas. He also served as a sequence director on the Paramount pics Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genus, The Rugrats In Paris and The Wild Thornberrys Movie.

In 1995, actor Martin Landau won an Oscar for portraying Lugosi in Tim Burton’s creative biopic, Ed Wood. Garcia hopes his own film will once again renew interest in the silver-screen scream king.

Garcia’s The Tell-Tale Heart premiered at the Int’l Festival of Young Filmmakers in Granada, Spain, on April 17, taking top honors for Best Spanish Short Film and earning Garcia the award for Best Director. The ten-minute short will hit the festival circuit in the coming months.

The Tell-Tale Heart is a co-production of R & R Communications Inc. in the U.S., Melusine Prods. of Luxembourg and Kandor Graphics of Spain. Bela G. Lugosi, son of the legendary actor, served as exec producer. The film serves as a forerunner to Garcia’s upcoming feature projects, which include Sian Ka’an, starring the voices of Salma Hayek, Placido Domingo and Alfred Molina, and the CGI feature, Backyard Heroes.